Steatitis or Yellow fat disease.

Yellow fat disease in cats is a very painful condition that if not addressed immediately could result in the death of your cat. It will become so painful for your pet that you may not be able to touch them. If you have turned your cat into a pure tuna junkie you may actually be killing them.

Tuna flavoured cat foods are not the cause of this condition, feeding your cat human tuna is the cause.
Yellow fat disease is most commonly referred to as Steatitis or Pansteatitis in cats and it is caused from a diet that is way too high in unsaturated fatty acids, and as a result is causing a Vitamin E deficiency in your pet.

Oily fish, especially red tuna, is extremely high in unsaturated fatty acids, and actually harms your cat in two different ways. The first is that Vitamin E is an essential and very important antioxidant that your cat needs and tuna is very low in this vitamin; and high levels of unsaturated fats also work to destroy and de-oxidize Vitamin E.

As a result, your cat is not getting enough of the vitamin, what it is getting is literally being destroyed by these high levels of unsaturated fats. Tuna flavoured cat food does not harm your cat as it is not pure tuna. It is a combination of other meats and additives that are formulated especially for cats.

Vitamin E Deficiency:

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin and foods rich in this vitamin are plant oils that are found in safflower and wheat germ. This vitamin plays a critical role in your cat in the formation of cell membranes, cell respiration, but more importantly in the metabolism of fat. It also acts as an antioxidant and protects various hormones in your cat's body from oxidation.

When your cat develops a deficiency of this vitamin, it is believed that it results in lipid peroxidation as well as a deposition of ceroid pigment in the adipose tissue. The adipose tissue is a type of a connective tissue in your cat that is made especially for the storage of neutral fats, or lipids.

They have names that are reflective of their actual physical appearance such as white fat, which can be yellowish in tint, or brown fat. A deficiency of Vitamin E also can cause cellular damage in skeletal muscle, as well as the heart, testes, liver and nerves. It is a very deadly situation for your cat.

Brown Bowel Syndrome is also a deficiency of Vitamin E and is found in both cats as well as dogs. With this disease, your pets bowels will be severely affected which could cause them to ulcerate, haemorrhage, or degenerate very rapidly. It also can affect the cells of your cat's eyes and the testes.

However, in cats the primary form of a vitamin E deficiency is Yellow fat disease where the fat in your cat does not metabolize properly.


The first symptoms you will see will be your cats coat turning both very greasy and dull; and both seem to happen almost overnight as it can hit that rapidly. They will also be anorexic just as fast but the reason is not that they are suddenly picky or have no appetite; it will most likely caused by the severe pain that they are in.

They will also develop a very high fever and it will be very difficult for you to even touch them or take their temperature. They will by now be in severe pain and will have an extreme reluctance to be touched or even to move as this disease is causing them a great deal of pain. Yellow fat disease is most common in young, overweight cats, and affects either sex the same.


Treatments for Yellow fat disease will be fairly straight-forward. You will need to immediately eliminate canned tuna from your cat's diet; it is killing them. Then you will need to supplement them immediately with vitamin E.
Dr. Wendell Belfield, DVM, in several of his publications has recommended 1200 IU per day of vitamin E supplements until this disease is cured.

You may also have to force fed your cat until they regain their strength back. However, there are also other treatments as several veterinarians may recommend using corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are some of the most beneficial medications in medicine today, but they are also very controversial.

Some people will go to their veterinarian on a regular basis for this type of treatment while other may become extremely angry at the mere mention of using this type of treatment. However, they are alternatives and can assist in almost any type of condition.

Cortisol plays an important part in controlling the salt and water balance in your cat's body, as well as regulating carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. When your cat's body becomes stressed, it releases a compound known as ACTH from your pet's pituitary gland in their brain. This compound than stimulates adrenals that produce cortisol

As a result, they help the immune system by blocking the substances that trigger allergic and inflammatory reaction. However, there is a drawback to these drugs, as they impede the basic functions of your cat's white blood cells which are designed to attack and destroy these foreign bodies and keep the immune system functioning properly.

This interference of the white blood cells puts your cat at an increased risk of being subject to several types of infections.


Yellow fat disease is the result of a Vitamin E deficiency in your cat. Although there are alternative methods of treatment, the safest, quickest, and purest way is to stop feeding your cat pure tuna and simply build their levels of Vitamin E back as quickly as possible.

Also known as Yellow Fat Disease or Pansteatitis, Steatitis is caused by feeding a diet high in unsaturated fatty acids and deficient in vitamin E. Oily fish, especially red tuna are the cause of this condition.

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant & unfortunately tuna is an inadequate source of Vitamin E. Therefore the overabundance of unsaturated fatty acids (which also oxidize & destroy Vitamin E), combined with the deficiency of Vitamin E causes damage to body fat, which results in a painful inflammatory response.

What are the symptoms of steatitis?

  • Greasy, dull coat & flaky skin
  • Severe pain when touched
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite)
  • Fever
  • Reluctance to move.

How is steatitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually based on the feeding history of the cat & a biopsy of the fat.

How is steatitis treated?

If left untreated steatitis can result in death. So it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately so they can begin the cat on the following treatments:

  • Elimination of fish from the diet immediately
  • Supplementation with Vitamin E
  • Force feeding if necessary
  • Some veterinarians recommend the use of corticosteroids

Can I feed my cat human grade tuna?

Yes, but feeding tuna should be restricted to special treats only and only fed extremely infrequently. Tuna is quite addictive to cats & they can quickly develop a taste for tuna & refuse any other foods.

Raw fish also contains the enzyme thiaminase which destroys thiamine (Vitamin B1), resulting in thiamine deficiency. Cooking destroys thiaminase, thus protecting thiamine.

What's the difference between human grade tuna & tuna flavoured cat food?

Human grade tuna is just that, tuna whereas tuna flavoured cat food is not 100% tuna, and usually contains other meats & nutrients which are necessary in the cat's diet.


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