Feline Fatty Liver Disease Symptoms

Also known as feline hepatic lipidosis, feline fatty liver disease is a relatively common affliction. Without prompt treatment it may become serious and even fatal. The condition is caused by an excess of fat in the liver. Some cases are idiopathic, while others are associated with heart or kidney disease, cancer or diabetes. Most cases occur because of old age, obesity and stress.

Causes and Symptoms of Feline Fatty Liver Disease

Old and overweight animals are primary victims of this disease. A lifetime of improper diet and minimal exercise often result in unhealthy accumulation of fat in your cat's liver. Additionally, stress is one of the prime contributing factors, and cats that have recently changed home environments in some way are further susceptible. The most common symptoms of feline fatty liver disease include the following:
  • Increased water consumption and urination
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss or anorexia
  • Jaundice
  • Loss of interest in play or affection
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Distention of the lower abdomen

Many of these symptoms often occur in cats with other diseases. In order to properly diagnose fatty liver disease, your veterinarian will run a series of blood tests and x-rays. In certain cases, a biopsy may be necessary in order to completely confirm the source of your pet's symptoms. If your pet begins to seize or becomes unresponsive, he may be experiencing a late-stage fatty liver disease reaction. These cases require immediate medical attention.

Preventing and Treating Feline Fatty Liver Disease

Feline fatty liver disease progresses and worsens over time if left untreated. Unlike many other conditions, however, you can help your pet to regain his health even after a diagnosis of fatty liver disease. Work with your veterinarian to determine an appropriate change of diet, exercise and lifestyle to gradually improve your pet's health. Depending upon the case, your veterinarian may also recommend the use of drug treatments and other methods to help moderate your cat's symptoms. One of the best ways to control feline fatty liver disease is through conscientious prevention. Monitor your pet's diet carefully and ensure that he doesn't eat more than is recommended. If you have multiple cats, be careful that one animal does not eat the other's food. Play with your cat daily in order to help maintain his fitness level. Furthermore, a high-protein diet and vitamin supplements can be helpful in preventing buildup of fat in your pet's liver.

Feline fatty liver is a treatable and preventable condition, but the process of keeping a cat healthy requires the help of a careful and informed owner. If your pet is a likely candidate for feline fatty liver disease, or if he has already been diagnosed with the condition, work closely with your veterinarian to make the changes necessary to promote continued good health.