FELINE LIVER DISEASE WELLNESS AND SUPPORT PLAN
It is important to know that liver disease is not always fatal. In fact numerous cats have responded well to conventional and alternative treatments, often to the surprise of their caregivers and veterinarians.
|Step 1: Get the Correct Diagnosis|
Knowing the exact type of liver disease affecting your cat may allow you to eliminate the underlying problem, as in the case of bacteriological infection. At a minimum, a correct diagnosis will give you a prognosis and the best method of treatment.
The two most prevalent forms of liver disease in cats are Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome) and Cholangitis. The latter is usually treated with corticosteriods, which can be detrimental for cats with Hepatic Lipidosis, emphasizing the importance of a correct diagnosis.
There are numerous blood and urine tests that will give clues to the cause of the problem, but a liver biopsy may be the best or only option to knowing the specific type and cause. The biopsy can be performed either with a needle guided by ultrasound through the body wall or with a full surgical procedure where the surgeon actually looks at the liver and removes a small piece.
Hepatic Lipidosis is by far the most common form of liver disease in cats. Although it is considered idiopathic (of an unknown cause), it occurs most frequently in overweight cats and is usually preceded by a period of fasting. An obese cat may suddenly stop eating due to stress or as a result of another disease.
Usually force-feeding is necessary with fatty liver disease. This is typically accomplished by your veterinarian inserting a feeding tube, but it may also be possible to force feed with a syringe. A special diet and nutritional supplementation are the best options for this type of liver disease.
|Step 2: Dietary Adjustments|
Although it is possible to produce a homemade diet for cats suffering from fatty liver disease, it can be a bit tricky. Because of this most veterinarians recommend one of the commercial liver diets. This is also more convenient when having to feed through a tube. In addition, these diets are normally fortified with supportive supplements like vitamin K, arginine and zinc. A beneficial liver diet should:
There is no one-size-fits-all diet for liver disease and often finding the best diet for your cat will require trial and error. It is important to work closely with your veterinarian to find a diet that your cat can tolerate and benefit from.
- Be free of chemicals and preservatives that over tax the liver.
- Be high in protein and calories. The protein should be from a quality source that is highly digestible.
- Be low in fat. Compromised livers have a particularly difficult time processing fats so they should be limited.
- Contain soluble and insoluble fiber to help absorb ammonia in the digestive tract.
- Be fed in small meals throughout the day so not to overtax the liver.
|Step 3: Essential Supplements to Support Liver Function and Regeneration|
Liver disease is one condition where holistic and conventional practitioners concur - nutritional supplementation is the superior approach.
One of the most extensively researched supplements with documented benefits for liver support is Milk Thistle. It has been shown to help detoxify the liver, block the uptake of toxins and have many liver protective qualities. Milk Thistle is a must for any cat dealing with liver problems.
Dandelion extract is believed to enhance bile flow and help with hepatitis and jaundice. Dandelion/Milk Thistle puts these two powerful ingredients together to obtain maximum results.
Recent research points to the substance, SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) as being very beneficial to the liver in several ways. SAMe raises glutathione levels, necessary for liver cell regeneration. It is also suggested that SAMe helps with detoxification and reduces inflammation. This supplement is prescribed for liver disease through out much of Europe.
SAMe is still a relatively pricey supplement, but its benefits appear to be worth it.
Digestive enzymes are important for cats with liver issues. Adding digestive enzymes can help reduce the load on the liver by breaking down fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Dr. Goodpet's Feline Digestive Enzymes are formulated especially to be effective on a cat's high protein diet. Learn more about Dr. Goodpet's Feline Digestive Enzymes - click here.
To prevent deficiencies, a good multi-vitamin supplement is essential for cats with compromised liver function. It is particularly important that the supplement be rich in B-vitamins (specifically B1 and B12), which add additional liver support.
Nupro Cat Nuggets is a whole food supplement made from fresh, raw ingredients for the highest digestibility and absorption. The scientifically balanced formula is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and essential fatty acids. In addition to a full spectrum of B vitamins, Nupro also contains vitamins C, E and K, which are recommended for liver support. Cats love the taste too!
|Step 4: Lifestyle and Environmental Considerations|
When your cat is dealing with liver disease, it is important to make sure their environment supports the healing process. With the help of your ministrations, your cat's liver will be detoxifying and trying to regenerate, so it is important to keep the liver's load as light as possible. One way to help is by removing toxins from their environment. Here are some things to watch for:
Opt for natural solutions whenever possible. A good replacement for many household cleansers is white vinegar. It makes a good all purpose cleaner that can be used to mop floors or clean glass and other surfaces. Read the ingredients on shampoos and other products that will come into contact with your cat's body and choose products that are truly natural. Your cat will appreciate your efforts.
- Pesticides in flea and tick repellents
- Chemicals in cat (or human) shampoos
- Chemicals in household deodorizing spays
- Lawn and garden chemicals and fertilizers
- Household pest chemicals
- Household cleaners
- Preservatives and additives in pet foods and treats
It is very important that your cat get lots of rest when dealing with this disease. If you have a particularly hectic household or if you have other pets, be sure to establish a sanctuary where your cat can go to be out of the noise and hustle.
Cats have a unique capacity for finding their "space". You may notice that you often find your sick pet sleeping in some out of the way place like a closet or seldom used guest room. It is just up to you to make it more comfortable and inviting.
Put bedding in the area along with other articles they find reassuring like a toy or a blanket. Try to restrict access to the area by letting family members know their friend needs to rest when she goes to her place. You may also want to try placing a pheromone diffuser in the area. Many cats find this reassuring and quieting.
Get the vital supplements plus the Liver Companion Guide in the Essential Liver Function Kit.