Transient hyperlipidemia in a litter of kittens


  • Presented in part at the 16th IVECCS, San Antonio, TX, September 2010.

  • The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to

Dr. Gretchen Schoeffler, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, CPC 2-504 Box 25, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.




To describe an entire litter of kittens with severe hyperlipidemia and subsequent successful, low-cost treatment that included high protein enteral support and parasite control. Previous case studies of similarly affected kittens have focused on a genetic etiology and on advanced interventions. The role of negative energy balance and additional factors influencing hyperlipidemia, as well as treatment and prognosis are discussed.

Case Summary

Three of 6 kittens died or were euthanized due to severe clinical signs attributable to multiorgan failure associated with subacute hyperlipidemia. The remaining 3 kittens, although subclinical, were found to have similar biochemical abnormalities, including severe anemia and hypertriglyceridemia. Flea treatment and weaning with assisted enteral support prevented the worsening of clinical signs and returned biochemical parameters to within reference intervals.

Unique Information Provided

Transient hyperlipidemia in kittens has been previously reported and successfully treated with administration of oxygen, blood transfusion, and diet change; these treatment recommendations may not always be financially feasible, resulting in euthanasia of affected kittens. In contrast, this report describes a successful, low-cost, outpatient approach of flea control, weaning, and introduction of a high protein enteral diet. It also highlights the importance of screening and treating seemingly unaffected littermates, provides new, previously unreported biochemical and histopathology findings, and proposes that negative energy balance is a significant factor in the development of transient hyperlipidemia in kittens.