This pretty face belongs to Miss Talladaga. She had a rough start in life as an abandoned kitten at the dump. She was a tiny underweight baby with a poor hair coat and diminutive meow. Fast forward 3 years and she was one big, healthy, overweight, loved cat! One day, “Dega’s” appetite suddenly decreased. Over just a few days her family noticed she had not only completely quit eating, but had lost an impressive amount of weight.
They brought her in to Best Friends Animal Health Center very concerned about this sweet gal. Dr. Brady started with a physical exam. She appeared dehydrated and at a good weight. We had never seen Talladaga before, but her family insisted she used to be quite the plump little lady.
Significant weight loss, dehydration, and loss of appetite were reason enough for Dr. Brady to want to investigate further. He ordered blood testing for Talladaga. Tests for feline viruses (Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) were negative. However, her Complete Blood Count and Blood Chemistry confirmed the dehydration and gave Dr. Brady his diagnosis. Hepatic lipidosis is a condition common in cats that are obese and suddenly stop eating or have a sudden decrease in food consumption. A cat’s liver is unable to process fat into usable energy. When a fat cat suddenly loses weight the liver “clogs” up with fat and is unable to function. Talladega’s family saw a fat cat that had a sudden decrease in appetite, lost a bunch of weight, started acting like it didn’t feel well, and quite eating altogether. This is a pretty classic progression of hepatic lipidosis.
Dega spent a few days in the hospital on IV fluids. A feeding tube was placed so we could control how much/when she was eating. Her bloodwork improved while she was with us, but she had not started eating. Dega’s family took her home with her feeding tube still in. They had careful instructions on how/when to feed her. They managed her at home for a full week before Dega felt good enough to eat on her own. She then came in, had the tube removed, and has been home since!
We suspect Dega’s loss of appetite was related to a bad bag of food. Her family had recently started a new bag of food. It was the same brand as they had always eaten, but none of the cats were eating as much as they usually did. We frequently see this condition in cats that accidentally get locked away from a normal food source. (Examples: A door blows shut while the family is gone for the weekend. Cat is exploring the neighbor’s shed and is accidentally locked in.) These situations need to be taken very seriously and acted upon quickly as this disease will progress rapidly.