If my cat skips a meal, will he be ok?
Skipping one meal generally shouldn’t pose a problem, but cats really shouldn’t go for more than two days without eating.
When the lacks food, it starts sending fat cells to the liver to process into lipoproteins for fuel. All liver cells (hepatocytes) contain a bit of fat from the cat’s diet in the form of fatty acids, triglycerides and cholesterol and the liver processes these into the bloodstream as energy. A healthy liver doesn’t need to store fat. Cats’ livers, however, are not terribly efficient at processing fat, and much of the fat is stored in the liver cells.
Hyperthyroidism contributes to hepatic lipidosis, where more fat than the liver can process gets stored, causing triglyceride buildup. No one knows exactly what causes unbalanced liver function in cats, but it’s often secondary to hyperthyroidism, particularly if they are obese. The result is a chain reaction affecting insulin and glucose levels that can lead to diabetes mellitus. But it doesn’t lead to complete liver failure.
Fortunately, liver cells are among few in the body with the ability to regenerate. Once the hyperthyroidism is under control, the liver heals itself and regains its balance.
Symptoms of hepatic lipidosis include:
In the early stages there may be no signs of hepatic lipidosis other than anorexia. This is why it is so important that cat owners are aware of their cat’s eating habits and seek medical advice urgently.
• Weight loss
• Muscle wasting
• Excess salivation
• Jaundice (yellow colour to the skin & mucous membranes)
If caught in time, approximately 70 percent of cases can be reversed. Untreated, hepatic lipidosis will lead to death.
Always be aware of your cat’s eating habits. If you notice your cat eating less or nothing at all, seek veterinary advice immediately and never put your cat on a diet without close veterinary supervision.