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Fatty Liver Syndrome (Hepatic Lipidosis) In Cats

Has your cat been diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis (also known as fatty liver disease in cats)? Feline fatty liver disease is a liver condition that is unique to cats. When a cat goes without eating (in as little as 24 hours), fat can become stored in the liver, affecting the cat's liver function. Along with treatments from your veterinarian, natural supplements for hepatic lipidosis can help support liver function and promote a healthy appetite.

What Is Feline Fatty Liver Syndrome?

Hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver disease, is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that is unique to cats. Unlike other animals that can go for prolonged periods of not eating, a cat's metabolism requires frequent small meals. When a cat goes without eating, fat is broken down by the liver to supply energy and nutrients. If this occurs too rapidly, due to a period of not eating (longer than 24 hours), fat accumulates in the liver cells, and can lead to liver failure. (source: VCA Animal Hospitals)

Hepatic lipidosis occurs most commonly in middle-aged overweight cats. It develops when cats stop eating and they start to lose weight rapidly. There can be many reasons why a cat is not eating:

  • Illness
  • Stress
  • Diet change - due to a cat owner making some type of food change assuming the cat will eat "when the cat gets hungry"

It is important to know that hepatic lipidosis can occur quickly. If the kitty is not getting enough calories, the body will try to send fat cells to the liver to be converted to energy.

Unlike dogs and people that can go days without eating, a cat's liver is not designed to metabolize fat so rapidly and the fat becomes stored in the liver, affecting the cat's liver function.

Symptoms Of Hepatic Lipidosis

The symptoms of hepatic lipidosis in cats may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Depression
If left untreated, the condition can progress to liver failure, which can be fatal.

Prevention & Treatment for Hepatic Lipidosis

The best way to prevent hepatic lipidosis is to closely monitor your cat's food intake and make sure your kitty is eating regularly. If your cat is overweight, then slowly reduce food intake and/or make diet changes, but be sure your cat continues to eat.

Treatment for hepatic lipidosis in cats typically involves hospitalization and supportive care. The primary goal is to provide adequate nutrition and hydration while addressing any underlying medical issues. As unpleasant as it may be, this may mean you need to force feed your kitty or use a feeding tubes to provide high-calorie, nutrient-dense food directly to the cat's stomach or intestines, along with medication to manage symptoms and support liver function.

It is important to catch and treat hepatic lipidosis in cats early, as the longer the condition goes untreated, the harder it becomes to reverse the damage to the liver. If you suspect your cat may be suffering from this condition, it is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Can You Help a Cat with Fatty Liver Disease at Home?

Hepatic lipidosis in cats is a serious medical condition that requires prompt veterinary treatment. Holistic treatment for hepatic lipidosis should not be used as a substitute for conventional veterinary care.

However, natural supplements can help promote healthy liver function in your cat and contribute to prevention of hepatic lipidosis. Here are some ways you can help care for and prevent fatty liver syndrome in cats at home.

  • Liver Support Supplements - Milk thistle, dandelion, Hemp CBD Oil, digestive enzymes and probiotics are some examples of natural supplements for hepatic lipidosis in cats. These may help support your cat's liver function, improve digestion and appetite.

  • Diet Changes - Many cats with hepatic lipidosis will experience inappetence or become anorexic. Veterinary hospitals will slowly reintroduce food while a cat is in their care, but when you return home you may struggle with how to get a cat with hepatic lipidosis to eat. It is best to start with multiple small meals until your kitty starts to feel better. A diet that is high in protein, hypoallergenic and grain-free is helpful for most cats with hepatic lipidosis. A raw frozen diet provides highly digestible fresh food that can work well for carnivorous cats. It's important to be especially vigilant to ensure your cat is eating.

  • Stress Reduction - Stress can negatively impact a cat's immune system and exacerbate symptoms of fatty liver syndrome. Cats are very sensitive to their environment and something as trivial as moving a food bowl or their cat tree can create so much stress that it can cause a physical illness. CBD oil can help promote relaxation and a sense of calmness, reducing a cat's stress.

  • Acupuncture - Acupuncture may be used to help reduce pain and inflammation and improve liver function. Consider treatments available through some holistic veterinarians.

Liver Supplements to Help Fatty Liver Disease
(Hepatic Lipidosis) in Cats

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Liver Support Kit provides comprehensive liver support for cats. Contains three supplements that work synergistically: Power Probiotic, LypoZyme and Liver & Gallbladder Support to improve digestion, support liver and gallbladder health and reduce gastric distress. Probiotics and enzymes for cats with hepatic lipidosis support digestion and nutrient absorption which may be especially important for cats that are not eating enough to meet their nutritional needs. These liver supplements for cats can also help liver function and reduce inflammation in the intestinal tract.

Happy Paws Organic Hemp Extract For Cats - Happy Paws is the best CBD oil for feline hepatic lipidosis. These easy-to-use drops promote calming and may help to stimulate your cat's appetite. Animal studies have suggested that hemp extract exhibits pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Professional veterinary strength. Happy Paws contains simple ingredients: each bottle contains 550mg of full spectrum hemp extract in an unflavored all-natural coconut oil base. 100% organic. It’s rigorously tested for potency and purity. Made in the USA.

LypoZyme For Pets is a tasteless enzyme supplement that improves the digestion of fats and proteins. It’s gentle enough for a tiny pet and effective for larger pets. Hepatic lipidosis in cats is often accompanied by digestive problems. LypoZyme can help relieve digestive symptoms associated with liver disease in cats. LypoZyme For Pets can be purchased separately or as part of the Liver Support Kit.

Power Probiotic - Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to support gut health and digestion. They may be helpful for cats with hepatic lipidosis as they can repopulate friendly bacteria, prebiotics and reduce inflammation in the gut. Power Probiotic is easy to administer, very effective and well tolerated by cats. The product has been third-party tested and guaranteed to contain the amounts of friendly bacteria indicated on the label. Pure and natural, Power Probiotic is the best probiotic for cats with hepatic lipidosis.

Originally published Nov 11, 2023
Updated Feb 16, 2024
Written by: Susan Davis, Pet Health Nutritionist, CCN
All pet treatment protocols and pet treatment supplements have been reviewed and approved by a veterinarian