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Feeding a cat with fatty liver.

Species: Cat
Breed: domestic long hair m
Age: More than 15 ye
Hi Dr. Marie,
I am in a bit of a muddy situation. My client changed vets for ONE of her cats, leaving the old vet after having a messy blowout. She hasn't had the new vet see the other cat yet and that is the cat i have a question about. REALLY uncomfortable to call the old vet now, since there is really bad blood between him and the client. Oy vey.

Tobie the cat is elderly with fatty liver disease. He has never eaten really well for the mom because she insists on giving him a brand that he doesn't care for as well as dry food. (I think I finally convinced her to stop with the dry.)

When i pet sit for him i mush up his canned food and warm it for him, which makes him eat it really really well. Also, i put the dry kibble away. He is on Ursodiol and daily antibiotic. She has flagyl if necessary for him.

Right now he is eating great, is very playful and purry. I am trying to do small meals several times a day but i am worried he ate a bit too much at breakfast, as his tummy is very noisy right now....doing the growly, pingy noises that gas or acid tummy makes.

His stool has been soft but formed and maybe his tummy is working on diarrhea right now. But i just wondered about HOW MUCH food I should be giving him each meal (he is the size of an average Birman)so that i don't over tax his liver and also if pepcid ac is allowable for him and if you think that might help keep his tummy calmer so that he can continue to eat well.

With his mom he never reaches an anorexic state, he always eats at least all the gravy and some dry food. He just doesn't like the slabs in the canned...but DOES like them when they are mushed up and warmed...which for some reason she is philosophically against doing for him.(Although she is coming around to buying a food with NO slabs, one that is all puree'd!)

He is not vomiting as long as he has no access to dry food. I have printed out info on fatty liver so she can read about dehydration, etc. I just want to keep his tummy comfortable but well fed...not sure if 3 heaping tablespoons of wet food per meal, 4 times a day might be too much....or ???
Any advice?
Thank you!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Lisa...this is a tough question to answer! I can give you some general ideas. But, ultimately, it really sounds like this kitty needs to be under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. There are an awful lot of variables when it comes to liver disease.

Has he actually been diagnosed with fatty liver? Because there are a great number of other conditions that can affect the liver of cats.

In any case, in cats with liver disease, feeding small amounts several times throughout the day is definitely a good idea. For cats that have fatty liver, the way I determine how much to feed is really by how much the cat tolerates. If I feed too much at one feeding then we tend to see vomiting. In that case, I back off a little bit. If he's eating canned food and not vomiting then I really would let him have as much as he wants. The food is not doing harm on his liver. Rather, if the liver is sick, it can only take so much food before the cat gets nauseous. So, if he is able to eat larger amounts and tolerate it, then go for it!

Unfortunately I can't advise you on which medications he can have. The medications really depend on his exact diagnosis and legally those types of recommendations can only be made by his vet.

It must be frustrating that your friend has had some difficult times with the vet. I would greatly urge them to see the new vet with this cat. The problem is though that in order to properly treat a cat with liver disease there is likely some ongoing stuff that needs to be done such as bloodwork to asses how things are going. It's possible there is some other issue such as chronic pancreatitis or IBD and he could benefit from other drugs such as steroids.

I hope this has helped somewhat,

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Hi Dr. Marie!
Thank you for your reply. I agree that Tobie should be checked by the new vet as soon as my friend gets back into town. Tobie's tummy is not noisy now, so maybe we are at a good balance food-wise.

Mom will be back in two days and hopefully i can convince her to have him fully checked out.

Thank you again.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.