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Fatty Liver Disease, saliva, & depression

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My 7 year old Bob has all the classic symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease. It's been 3 weeks since he's had anything to eat or drink; I'm force-feeding & IV-ing him. He's had xrays, which showed nothing unusual, a liver biopsy (the results aren't in yet), & blood work that showed elevated liver enzymes. He's also jaundiced. He's producing a lot of saliva; it gets worse when I pick him up to feed him. Sometimes it actually bubbles out the sides of his mouth! Once I let him calm down, it decreases. I firmly believe this condition is a result of depression--we got a new kitten 6 months ago, and lost Bob's "best friend" to renal failure 2 months ago. The vet keeps putting me off when I request an anti-depressant for him, saying most of them are filtered thru the liver & we don't want to make matters worse. How much worse can it get than not eating for 3 weeks?! I've looked around on the net, and have begun giving him tiny doses of St. John's Wort (for depression) & milk thistle (which is supposed to encourage liver function). Am wondering if anyone else have used herbs to treat these problems? Does anyone have experience with giving their cat anti-depressants? Any advice on fatty liver disease would also be very much appreciated.
post #2 of 14
Went through this a few years ago with a beloved cat. My experience with it was so frustrating that I started reseaching it on my own. My result of my research can be found here

FHL It all depends on the cat, their will to live, their strength. It is not uncommon for felines to grieve and stop eating. Once they get caught up in the cycle of anorexia, they cannot break it easily on their own. Their body is sending messages that they are "full" because it is essentially creating its own buffet.

Good luck- we ended up putting Kabota down, his ears, gums, and pads of his feet were yellow. There was little hope for him. He had run off and been gone for weeks. We figure he got locked in someone's shed or barn and couldn't find food to stay alive.
post #3 of 14
[quote=hissy]Went through this a few years ago with a beloved cat. My experience with it was so frustrating that I started reseaching it on my own. My result of my research can be found here

FHL It all depends on the cat, their will to live, their strength. It is not uncommon for felines to grieve and stop eating. Once they get caught up in the cycle of anorexia, they cannot break it easily on their own. Their body is sending messages that they are "full" because it is essentially creating its own buffet. [quote]
I agree with Hissy
I have been down the FHL road myself, and my Bud did pull through after months of force feeding and IV but it was nip and tuck for a while. It is a rough cycle to break but it is possible to do if you catch it soon enough and the will and strength are still there.I do not think I would go down the anti depressent road until your baby is eating on his own.
Hang in there, they can sense if you are tense as well. Healing vibes your way!
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. I think I'm just frustrated with Bob's total disregard for food. Every so often he'll sniff at something & I literally hold my breath, thinking, "This is it, he's going to start eating!" Then he just looks at me & walks away I've had several people tell me that it could take months before he eats on his own. Since I've started force-feeding him (the past 3 weeks) he's only lost 1/10 of a pound; at least that's something. He also still has a beautiful coat, which totally surprises me. He stopped grooming himself recently, so I'd better get some baby-wipes to help him out. Especially since half of what I try to feed him gets on him (and me). Looks like I'm in for quite a bit of nursing.
post #5 of 14
This is a very frustrating problem for sure, and it can take months of intensive care to get him eating again but it can be done. When you say IVing - do you mean giving him fluids under the skin at home? Has your vet tried any appetite stimulants? Cyproheptidine? The drooling is probably nausea- as you can imagine force feeding probably isn't pleasant for him. You could have your vet insert a tube in his neck that would allow you to put food into his stomach and bypass his mouth. That might be more pleasant but it requires an anaesthetic and has its disadvantages too. Good luck!
post #6 of 14
By the way if he is losing weight still you should increase the amount you are feeding him. He should be gaining weight- it is the only way to get his body to stop eating up his fat stores.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
My husband & I have considered the pros & cons of a feeding tube, and have decided against it. We have 3 other cats, & just don't think we could keep a feeding tube clean or in place (of course, by "we" I mean me). At this point, I'm still waiting for the biopsy results; we're assuming fatty liver disease until we know for sure. The vet has Bob on Baytril & Cefa, just in case we're dealing with some sort of infection, but hasn't wanted to start any other meds until we have the biopsy results. I guess she feels we need to know what's going on before we introduce something new into Bob's system, but I think appetite stimulants & something for nausea are a good idea. And yes, I'm IVing him at home, 200cc daily. I've read different idea, & I know what the vet has told me, but how much food daily would you recommend? I feed Bob 4/5 times daily, 10-15 cc each time (depending on much lands on me). I'm not restricting him to a special diet; I figure anything I can get into him is a gift. I'd really appreciate your input.
post #8 of 14
I will have to look into how many calories he needs per day. How much does he weigh now? You should find a high calorie diet (we usually use hills a/d because it is easy to make into a paste and fits in a syringe), and find out how many cans he needs to eat per day. I would day that Bob could easily eat 30cc at each feeding and that 4-5 times per day sounds reasonable. If you increase to 30cc you would be doubling his calories and he may start gaining weight.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
At the moment Bob weighs in at just over 9 lbs. I'm feeding him anything I can get into him---a/d, l/d, baby food, & regular canned cat food. The canned cat food goes into him just like it comes out of the can-I don't try to put it into a syringe, just put it in his mouth with my fingers. It's really hard to feed him sometimes; he's still pretty fiesty, and the saliva issue doesn't help matters at all. Once we have the liver biopsy results, I will ask the vet for something for nausea for Bob.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
I just spoke with the vet about the lab results, & they were not good. Bob doesn't have fatty liver disease; apparently, he has an idiopathic liver disease. Simply put, that means they don't really know what's causing the liver problems. They did notice "abnormal" cells in the sample; to me, abnormal means cancer. There are, apparently, still half a dozen different things that could be causing the problems.
Our choices seem to be keep on doing what we're doing until it's just not enough anymore, or take Bob on a car trip of several hours to a vet school. There, they could perform exploratory surgery on him & MAYBE find out what's wrong with him, & MAYBE do something about it. My husband & I have discussed it, and it appears that we'll do what we can to make Bob comfortable until we can't do anymore. Please keep my poor boy in your prayers.
post #11 of 14
I wish you luck. I would have made the trip. The vet school near me helped me when my horse was so bad the vet had given up on him. They can do amazing things and learn so much along the way.
post #12 of 14
While you are really the only one who can best assess what decisions you make, I have to echo what Hissy said about going to the vet school if you possibly can. The closest one to me is in Blacksburg, Virginia, about 3 to 4 hours drive away. I made the trip with one of my past cats and they were simply invaluable to me with her.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm afraid I have no faith in the vet school. When Bob's liver biopsy was done 2 weeks ago, that's where the samples were sent. After 11 days of hearing nothing, our vet called them; they just hadn't gotten to it yet. After an additional 2 days, their results were "inconclusive". Apparently, the problem could be anything from depression to cancer to pancreatis, and half a dozen things in between. All they could say for sure was that it isn't FHL. The facts are that his liver is enlarged, there's abnormal cell growth, and he's been jaundiced (including his internal organs) for a month. To me, exploratory surgery (again) just isn't an option. If the vet school had been able to give us even a guess as to what was causing the problem, I'd be there in a heartbeat. Saying, "Gee, we don't have any idea" does not instill confidence in their abilities.
post #14 of 14
That's unfortunate, most vet schools are top-of-the-line in diagnostic procedures
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