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Need info on kitty's liver...

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
My kitty is a part Maine Coon, part something else furry, & I've had her for about a year. She's almost 4 though....with the sweetest disposition and a cuddle-bunny (my nickname for her). She's always had hairballs, being a realllllllly long-haired cat (and beautiful, I might add), but about 4 days ago she was hacking & coughing, but no hairball. I was expecting it to show up beside my bed, like they usually do when I'm half asleep and barefoot, but nothing except the foamy spit and no appetite at all...no water, no food. So I assumed that she had a hairball stuck, and proceeded to buy hairball medication (sticky darn goop that it is) and tried feeding her butter, still nothing. The past day or two, she's been hiding under the bed and really not herself....won't come out for cuddles or anything. So tonight I brought her to the vet, thinking nothing serious, just an extra-huge hairball that had nowhere to go. She's still there tonight, on IV for dehydration and the vet thinks it's her liver shutting down...I checked her eyes yesterday, they're still white today, but the inside of her ears are yellowed a bit. She's the first cat I've had, so I'm not all that familiar with cat diseases, and I need help with this one, if anybody can, please. What are her chances of having her normal life...is it painful for them, will she still be a happy cat, what do I expect? I can't bear the thought of ever putting her down, but I also can't bear it if she's not going to enjoy life the way she always has. And she's only 4....what happens next? I want to help her any way I can, she depends on me for that, and I feel to blame for not bringing her in sooner than I did. If anyone has been through this, I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or suggestions, good or bad...I need to know what will happen to us. The blood tests come back tomorrow, she's coming home with me tomorrow night for a night of cuddles like she has never had before.
post #2 of 18
I am so sorry to hear this. It really depends on what stage of failure she is in. Some cats can live fairly comfortable with special diets, regular vet visits to monitor chem and blood panels. The fact that her ears are yellowing, shows the jaundice is pretty pervasive, and the vomiting is another sign that it has advanced. But, with good veterinary care, antibotics and good nutritious food, the liver can regenerate in time. Blood tests and ultrasound would be the way to go so your vet can determine how advanced this is. The earlier they catch it, the better it is for the cat, but really only your vet can tell you her prognosis because she/he is the one who is caring for your cat.
post #3 of 18
Laura, I don't have any helpful information for you. I just wanted you to know I'm keeping your kitty in my thoughts.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the thoughts...we both really appreciate it!

So I went to talk to the vet last night, Tabitha has Hepatic Lipidosis. So far, he has optimistic thoughts about, the main thing is getting her to eat. See, I moved from Nova Scotia to Vancouver, 6000 kms, in November, and she flew out in December. When she got here, she was introduced to 2 other cats who live with us now, and they did NOT get along for about a month (she was up on top of the kitchen cupboard and would not come down, even to eat). I was putting her food up on the counter, and when I came home from work, it was usually gone, and I was assuming she had eaten it, but with 3 cats, I may have been assuming wrong. The cats have since become friends, and although I have observed her eating, I'm not really sure how much at each time. She didn't seem to be losing weight, so I wasn't concerned until she got sick last week. So she's there until she eats on her own...they're force feeding her until then. When she can eat on her own, I'm bringing her home to her own room with her own dishes & litter box so I can gauge her progress. Until then, I'm going to visit my baby every day in her little hospital bed and try to get her to eat.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!
post #5 of 18
My fingers are crossed! Keep us posted!
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks Jenn

I went to visit her tonight (they're gonna get real tired of me there)!! She's looking much better, a whole lot more alert than she was yesterday, and the vet assistant says that she's taken to the force feeding rather well, considering. She's a pretty mild-mannered kitty anyways, but to have her force-fed and not seem to mind it a whole lot seems rather strange. She's pretty pathetic-looking, with her neck and left leg shaved, but we took her out of her little "ward" for a little playtime during our visit, and she's still getting into things, so I think she's on the mend. Slowly. But I won't give up on her....the vet says we have 6 weeks to get her eating on her own again, and I'm sure we can do it. I'm not sure how it works in other places, but my vet here won't let her go until she does eat on her own, so the bill could be really pricey at $8/night. But you know what? Like all of you, I'm sure, I would gladly pay any price to have her back to herself again. Not saying it's going to be easy, but it's going to be, period. I now know, though, that the old saying "She'll eat when she gets hungry enough" isn't always true, I just wish I had know that weeks ago... we wouldn't be going through all this now. True what they say about hindsight, isn't it?
post #7 of 18

I am not trying to scare you, you said you wanted information about the liver, but hepatic lipidosis is very serious. Dr. Mike has a great webpage about it, you can read some of the stories here. Not all the stories have happy endings, but there is a ton of information here for you to pick through.

I wish you luck with your cat.

Dr. Mike
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much, Hissy. I'll check out that site after this. I do know that it's very serious, one thing I will say is that the vet pulls no punches, he tells it like it is and I appreciate that. I just went through the worst 2 days of my life when I left her there, thinkng it would be the last time I saw her, and I didn't even get to snuggle with her before they whisked her away. But after seeing her alert, I decided that I needed to get back to being my positive (albeit maybe a little naive) self and believe that she'll be alright. Deep down, though, I am prepared for the worst, if that's what happens. Until then, though, she's here, she's feeling a bit better, and my whole purpose now is to get her eating and bring her home where she's comfy. We're not crossing any bridges until they're in our way.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you, Hissy....that site was very helpful in answering many questions I had. Unfortunately, Tab's not doing great tonight. Her fever is gone, that's a good thing, and she seems more alert than she has been, but she is so thin....it's almost as if she's lost more weight in the last 2 days, or maybe I'm just noticing it more because I'm looking for it, I don't know. I'll weigh her tomorrow when I go see her to be sure, but it also may be that she hasn't been grooming herself and her coat is a mess (I don't have the heart to put her through the trauma of a good brushing or bath just yet, she absolutely HATES it). Her eyes don't seem as jaundiced tonight, but her ears are still pretty yellow. She's just so helpless, I wish I could do more for her. She's having more tests tomorrow to see how her levels are, so I guess I'll have to wait & see how she really is instead of guessing by her appearance. I just hope she's not suffering, I mean, I know she's "uncomfortable" now, but as long as she's not in pain, I can't see myself making THAT decision, as long as there's hope. I think what I need is to hear a good story about someone whose baby was at the same stage as Tab and came out of it. Anyone? Please? She's being syringe-fed, and I understand that there's only a 30% chance of cats surviving by this method, whereas tube-fed kitties have a 70-80% chance...how long should I wait before I ask for the tube? And is it realistic for me to think that if she hasn't eaten on her own within a few weeks that she will, one day? I swear, as much as I love my baby, I'm seriously considering never having another pet...the heartbreak when they get sick is so gut-wrenching, and I blame myself, probably more than I should, I know, but she depended on me, and trusted me to take care of her, and I let her down.
Sorry so long, but I guess I'm just down after my visit with her..methinks I expected too much too fast for her today, after a good night with her last night, and not seeing her any better brought me back down to earth too fast.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, I've just come from visiting Tab, bad news. Her fever is back, and now not only is she not eating, she's not touching her water either. They took more blood samples while I was there, and x-rays later today....he seems to think it's a liver tumour now. He said if the results come back tomorrow morning as he expects, he'll do a liver biopsy to make sure, but the fever seems to have him convinced that's the case. If so, my decision is made for me, I suppose...he did tell me that transplants are practically useless, and this would be as definite as it gets. I guess all I can do is wait now. I'm going to do more information searching about it, just to be sure about everything.

Please say a prayer for poor little Tabitha...
post #11 of 18

I am so sorry. I do not have positive feedback about this disease, because the cats that I have had with it, have not survived it. They do go into remission, but it doesn't last very long. I opted to put both of them down when I found out. I honestly do not know anyone who has been able to nurse their baby back from this disease successfully. I am sorry, they may indeed be out there, and if they are, I hope they speak up now. Cats are very stoic when they are in pain, they have to be, it is a survival mode and automatic in their make-up.
post #12 of 18
I want you to know that I'm thinking of you and Tab.

I also want you to know that my 14-year old male was recently diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis. He's recovering nicely. I understand that hepatic lipidosis can occur more than once. I am approaching treatment with my pet like this is a life-long disease. I intend to keep his weight down, and feed him Feline l/d which is a Hill's prescription diet formulated for liver diseases.

I noticed that you mentioned that your Tab has a fever. My cat never had a fever. He was severly dehydrated, jaundice and lethargic. He lost 7 pounds. His liver enzymes were sky-high, but he NEVER had a fever.

Has your vet done complete blood work? Fever usually indicates infection, so the hepatic lipidosis may be secondary to something else going on. My suggestion is to explore this with your vet more ... make sure he's done a complete blood test on your friend.

I would be happy to answer any practical question you have, so feel free to e-mail me directly.

Best wishes,
post #13 of 18
My cat, Dickens had Cholangiohepatitis (a bacterial liver infection) AND Heaptic Lipidosis. We did have a feeding tube put in. He had been severely jaundiced and was not eating. He did great and had completely recovered (after the peg tube was in for 6 wks.) only to get a "flukey" (and severe) infection (between the stomach and the abdominal wall) AFTER the peg tube was removed. We had to have him euthanized. We were going to a board certified internist. This was not something our regular vet could manage. Dickens was also on about five different supplements. (Taurine and Ursodial which helps with bile acids for example) The treatment was pretty involved. A liver biopsy is something that is a difficult procedure. I hope your cat will be OK, it is heartwrenching to see them sick.
post #14 of 18
I'm so sorry that your seemingly good results with the tube turned out so horribly. I can imagine how devastating it was to loose Dickens after everything you went through to keep him going. I will keep in mind your experience with the tube in case I find myself at that point again.
post #15 of 18
Hi hon,
So sorry to hear about your kitty's troubles. I also went through a very similar experience with Whiskers my (mostly) Russian Blue. He had started to not eat and drink anything and got really bad. His eyes and ears and just skin in general were positively YELLOW! The vet told me that his liver count was off the charts, about 10 times what it should have been. He started giving him cortisone subcu and massive antibiotics as well as regular fluids. I had to force feed him. All this I did at home, but just kept taking him back on a daily basis. He had a hard time walking and his muscles were wasting away. I hated to see him that way and our vet had suggested putting him down. Whiskers is my husbands baby and I knew he would be devastated but finally had almost come to that decision. But the vet said we would try one last massive dose and then he started to improve. It was miraculous to say the least. Up until now, you would never know he had ever been that sick. Then the feral kitties I rescued got feline distemper and he started getting sick then too. I rushed him to the vet and he gave him fluids and antibiotics and he's pretty well over it now. The older cats have a better immune system than the kittens and have a better chance of surviving it.

I will keep your baby in my thoughts and prayers. If it hadn't been for all the prayers and well wishes from everyone on here, when all my kitties were sick, I don't know what I'd have done. Just hang in there and give your baby a kiss for me. I hate to see them sick, it just devastates me. I kept saying prayers over and over when mine got sick, so I know that miracles DO happen!! Best of luck.

post #16 of 18
Thank you, Joyce. It was very hard to lose Dickens because he really WAS better. We were so pleased that we'd "saved" him. He was eating on his own again and all his liver values were back to normal. The internist and the surgeon both told us they had never seen an infection happen after removal of a peg tube. (figures) I hope your cat and Laura's will do well.
post #17 of 18
Hi Cind.

Again, I am so sorry about your cat. I struggled with Bleu's treatment plan; feeding tube, biopsies, etc. I am strapped for cash and the more invasive treatments were out of my financial reach. I was also quite concerned that he wouldn't even live through surgery. His vet could not make any guarantees that he would.

So far, Bleu seems to be doing well. It's been a little over 2 weeks since he started eating on his own again. I do monitor his food and water intake closely. I don't think he's completely out of the woods, and I worry that the least little upset will force a relapse.

I plan to take him to the vet on Wednesday and have his hematology and chemistry done again. I want to see if there are any changes. Also, we did an abdominal x-ray on him 3 weeks ago, and it showed that his stomach was J shaped. A cat's stomach is usually | shaped. The vet thought this was caused by an enlarged liver or pancreas, or both. I am interested to know if his stomach is still shaped that way or if it has relaxed any. I would imagine that having one's stomach out of shape would be nauseating, to say the least. It is any wonder he kept any food down at all. Poor guy.
post #18 of 18
I think it's really good that you were able to help Bleu without any invasive treatments. We ended up spending an enormous amount of money on Dickens. I know people probably thought we were nuts, but he was a really special cat and we wanted to be able to feel like we'd done everything we could. I'm still glad we tried even though it didn't have a good outcome. If your cat is eating on his own, I think that's a big part of the battle-they say the liver has a phenominal abilty to regenerate. Good luck.
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