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Also Known As: Yellow Fat Disease


Steatitis is also known as 'yellow fat disease'. It occurs in many species including cats, reptiles and mink. It is not seen in ruminants.

The condition occurs in animals fed on a fat-laden diet, high in polyunsaturated fat and low in tocopherols. This causes an inflammatory response of adipose tissue due to oxidative damage. Vitamin E deficiency is thought to contribute to the condition.

Clinical Signs

The animal normally presents with firm nodules in subcutaneous tissue that are yellow or orange in colour. Mink may also present with abnormal locomotion and sudden death.

Treatment & Prevention

The condition is vitamin E responsive, therefore affected animals should be treated with oral or injectable vitamin E supplementation and fed on a low fat diet.

The condition is prevented by feeding an appropriate diet (low in polyunsaturated fat) and supplementing the diet with vitamin E.


If the condition is recognised when the signs are mild, then prognosis is good - with complete reversal of signs. More chronic lesions are harder to treat as they may be walled off by a dense capsule of fibrocollagenous connective tissue.

Steatitis Learning Resources
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Canis, Felis, Lapis or Equis
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Reptiles and Amphibians Q&A 05

External Links


Frye, FL & Williams, DL (1995) Self-Assessment Colour Review - Reptiles & Amphibians Manson

Merck & Co (2009) The Merck Veterinary Manual (Ninth Edition), Merial

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