MIA – Blame the Cat

Over the last month or so I haven’t been around.  Why?  My cat, Loki, was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis.  The last month has been intense but Loki is doing well now and I should have time to knit again!  It seems that a lot of cat owners have no idea what this disease is so for those of you experiencing the same thing here’s how our month with the disease went.

Week 1 – The Diagnosis & Surgery

September 14th I brought Loki to the vet because he wasn’t eating.  I thought he was down maybe 2 pounds and suspected he probably had a tooth injury that was making eating uncomfortable.  I was thinking to myself, great here’s a few hundred bucks about to go down the drain.  I wish that had been all it was.  It turns out he’d lost 4 pounds. He went from 10 pounds down to 6 pounds.  That’s dangerous, very dangerous, for a cat. We had blood tests done and my job was to make him eat that night.  Whatever he wanted, just so long as he ate something.  He didn’t.

The next morning I had the results of the blood test.  Everything was good except the liver. The numbers were bad and nowhere close to the healthy range. There was the diagnosis, fatty liver or hepatic lipidosis.  There were three options from here: a feeding tube surgically inserted, manual force feeding, or let nature take its course (or speed it along).  For me that really only left the feeding tube option.  I might have tried manual force feeding Loki but I know myself better than that.  I can barely get a pill down his month I wasn’t likely to be all that successful if history was any indication.

The feeding tube was inserted on Wednesday and I brought him home on Friday.  That weekend was hard.  Loki slept the entire time.  I’d have to wake him up and then help him stand.  Then he’d fall over. After a few steps he’d get his balance and could walk very slowly on his own.  That was the scariest part for me.  He fell down.  My cat, who jumps and runs and is so frustrating to catch, just fell down.

Sunday was the first time I really thought that maybe I’d made the wrong choice.  It’d been 3 days and I wasn’t seeing any improvement.  The only thing Loki wanted was to curl up on my lap and sleep. I don’t believe in extending a pet’s life unless the pet can continue with a good quality of life.  I wasn’t sure that was going to happen for Loki.

Week 2 – The Food Allergy

Luckily for me I didn’t have long to worry about my choice.  Sunday night Loki ate food on his own. It was less than half an ounce but it was a start.  The next couple of days Loki keep eating a little on his own along with the feedings I was giving him but never more than an ounce.  He was still sleeping most of the day but about 6-8 hours after a feeding he’d start walking around the house on his own.  Once he had food in his stomach again he’d pass out for at least a solid 6 hours.

Near the end of the week Loki’s personality changed.  He didn’t want to sleep near me anymore, didn’t like being pet, and meowed sadly every time I picked him up.  Once again we had a bad Sunday.  He started hiding from me when it was time for feedings.  Then Sunday night he went crazy with his grooming.  It started with regular licking but then he started to scratch himself.  He scratched above his eye until he was bleeding.  I got him to stop for the night but by Monday morning he had scratched himself raw above his other eye.

I was worried  an infection with the feeding tube might be causing irritation so I made an appointment that day.  Turns out it was his old food allergy.  A couple years back he’d had digestive issues with his food so we’d switched him to a hypoallergenic diet.  This time the food allergy caused skin sensitivity.  No more eating whatever he wanted.  The goal was now to get his weight up a bit more, he’d already gained a pound back, then start finding food he could eat. We went back to only tube feedings.

Week 3 – Recovering

The next week was pretty tame.  Loki still didn’t want to be pet or picked up, but he would willingly jump up on the coffee table to get his feedings.  The cat was getting lazy.  Immediate full tummy without any work?  Good deal.  He was sleeping only for a few hours after each feeding instead of most of the day and in general was doing good.

Friday night I decided to see if he would eat on his own.  I went and bought some of the limited ingredient foods available and offered it to Loki.  He ran right to it and started eating.  He ate three ounces on his own, but it took him almost two hours to do it.  Over the rest of the weekend he’d eat the food anytime I offered.  The biggest problem was he’d fall asleep before finishing the food because has so slow eating it and then he’d wake up looking for it again!

Week 4 – Eating

Over the next week Loki continued eating on his own. I talked to his vet to get a better feel of how much food he should be eating and how much to supplement with the tube feedings.  By that weekend I was using the tube only for his medicine.  Loki was eating full meals on his own.  He was able to eat three ounces in 20 minutes instead of two hours which was a relief. He also had his energy back.  Honestly, he had more energy then he’d had in years.  He started running in circles around the entire house, jumping on furniture, and basically acting like a kitten again.

Week 5 – Loki Was Done

Loki was doing everything he needed and it was time to schedule the tube removal.  The vet wanted him to have a full week of eating before we took out the tube just to be safe and I picked up a food allergy kit to try different foods for his allergies.

Everything was great until Tuesday, October 13th.  Loki took matters into his own hands and decided he was done with that feeding tube.  He threw it up.  To be fair, he had a hairball and the feeding tube came with it.  Personally, I think he was done with it and too impatient for this silly safety thing.

So now we had three hours at the emergency animal hospital.  We had to get x-rays to make sure all of the tube was  out then get re-bandaged and sent home. All that was left was a final check-up to get his bandage removed and a blood test to check his liver.  I scheduled an appointment the following Monday morning and everything was great.  He was up to eight pounds, his incision was healed, and the blood test showed his liver was normal.

How We’re Doing Now

Since then we’ve found the food Loki likes best and he’s still eating.  He’s excited every time there’s food and he’s still running around the house like a crazy cat.  His fur is growing back nicely where he was shaved but he still looks goofy. Unfortunately, he is more aggressive than he was.  I’ve gotten sneak attacks and a couple of nips.  For some reason I’m not allowed to lay down on the couch but we’re figuring it out.  His energy is so high that I’ve had to increase play times and Loki has to relearn that aggressive play is not okay. Also, my hair is not for eating!

The one thing I wish I had known at the beginning was just how much Loki would sleep.  That worried me the most for the longest amount of time. The vet told me he would sleep but I didn’t understand how much and how deeply.  The key is to watch for that improvement to see more and more time awake.   For me this was the best sign to track his progress even more than the eating.

I was very lucky with this experience.  I had an amazing support group with family, friends, and my vet who kept in touch with me through the entire process.  Loki recovered pretty quickly and he’s made a full recovery. I wish the best of luck to anyone else going through this process and don’t give up!


  1. […] to finish off my next WIP, the Meisi gloves!  Before Loki got sick I had the first glove almost done.  I needed to finish the pinkie and thumb.  I finished that […]

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