Hepatic lipidosis is more commonly known as fatty liver disease. In cats, this disease is often the suspect when a cat that is overweight suddenly stops eating and seems to have no appetite.
Without proper nutrition, the cat's body begins sending stored fat to the liver. The fat cells build up there because they are processed too slowly, and over time, this can cause the liver to fail. Hepatic lipidosis is fatal if not treated promptly. The treatment for fatty liver disease does include dietary changes that you'll need to follow if you want you cat to live a long and healthy life with you. Here's how to feed a cat that has hepatic lipidosis:
- Take your cat to the vet. If you notice the symptoms of this dangerous disease, take your cat to the vet immediately. Your vet will treat the disease and give you care instructions, including a plan for feeding your cat.
- Understand your cat's illness. A cat with fatty liver disease will not eat on his own. Several weeks of a high-protein diet can reverse the condition, and your cat will get his appetite back. Try tempting your cat with his favorite tubes, but if it's gotten so far that you have seen a vet for the illness, it is unlikely that your cat will eat it, and you'll need to begin force feeding through a tube.
- Feeding through a tube. Rather than eating from a bowl, most cats with hepatic lipidosis are fed through a tube inserted into the stomach or esophagus. The type of food is watered down canned food. This is likely your cat's best chance for living a healthy life with fatty liver disease. Your vet may give you pre-mixed food or directions for mixing your own. You'll need to slowly push the soft food through the tube using a syringe. Don't push it too quickly, or your cat may throw it back up. Only feed as much food as your vet recommends, even if it seems like a very small amount. Try to keep them calm as you feed them; having a feeding tube is not a very comfortable experience for your cat.
- Hydrate your cat. Cats with this disease often become dehydrated. If they don't drink enough water on their own, you may need to provide your cat with additional fluids. The vet can show you how to do this.
- Weaning your cat off the tube. Your cat will probably need to be tube-fed for several weeks. This gives enough time for the cat's body to process the fat it had already sent to the liver, and allows the liver to regain its proper function. After that, try to wean your cat off the tube and back on to solid foods. This may take several tries over a period of a few weeks, so be patient. Though tube-feeding a cat can be a chore, don't try to make your cat eat on his own too soon. The tube can come out once your cat is eating enough food on his own again. Tube feeding is very stressful to your cat, but remember that your cat's appetite will still be very low.
Hepatic lipidosis is a serious condition that must be treated immediately. If caught immediately and your cat is cared for properly, including adequate nutrition, your cat will have a very good chance of survival.