Why is it not safe to allow my obese cat to fast in getting her weight down?FamilyPet
Two words: Hepatic Lipidosis, or fatty liver disease,. This condition is an accumulation of fats (lipids) in the liver tissue. It is thought that it might result from the way cats metabolize proteins and fats.
It develps typically in a previously overweight cat who stops eating for whatever reason. Lacking food, the body starts sending fat cells to the liver to process into lipoproteins for fuel. Cats’ livers are not terribly efficient at processing fat, and much of the fat is stored in the liver cells. Left untreated, eventually the liver fails and the cat dies.
When a previously overweight older cat suddenly stops eating, she loses weight, She’ll most likely also salivate excessively or vomit. The cat may become very lethargic and may show jaundice.
The treatment for fatty liver disease is dietary management with the goal of working to stedily reversing the condition — if diagnosed early. The idea is to force feed the cat enough nutrients to reverse the metabolic malfunction that caused the condition in the first place. This is usually done with a feeding tube which is inserted into the esophagus or stomach by a veterinarian. The cat’s caretaker then mixes a formula in a blender and using a syringe, feeds a small amount down the tube several times daily. After a few weeks of the forced diet, the cat can be offered food normally, to test her appetite, although the tubal feeding may need to be continued for up to six or eight weeks, until the cat’s appetite has fully returned to normal.
Some caregivers do prefer the syringe method, but be sure to feed slowly into the side of the mouth, to prevent aspiration of the food. A formula can be blended with a soft palatable food such as Hills A/D, mixed with a little water or juice.
NOTE: Anorexia and weight loss can also be symptoms of other diseases, such as liver cancer or pancreatic disease, and fatty liver syndrome can only be accurately diagnosed conclusively through tests. A complete blood profile may indicate increased liver enzymes, and the diagnosis can be confirmed with a liver biopsy done under light anesthesia, with a large needle through the skin.