What is Liver Disease in Cats?

What is Liver Disease in Cats?

What is it?

Liver disease in cats refers to a range of conditions that affect the liver’s normal function. These can include infections, metabolic disorders, cancer, and other underlying health problems. The liver plays a vital role in many aspects of a cat’s health, and proper diagnosis and management of the liver disease are critical for their overall well-being.

How is it Treated?

The treatment of liver disease in cats will depend on the condition’s underlying cause. Depending on the specific diagnosis, this may involve medications, dietary management, or surgery. In some cases, supportive care such as fluid therapy and nutritional support may also be necessary to help manage symptoms and improve the cat’s overall health.

Breed Predispositions

Liver disease can affect any cat, regardless of breed, age, or gender.


When Karen observed her usually vibrant Maine Coon, Jasper, becoming lethargic, losing weight, and vomiting, she knew something was wrong. Alarmed by these symptoms, she took Jasper to her veterinarian for a detailed evaluation. After conducting blood tests and imaging, the vet diagnosed Jasper with liver disease, a condition that can affect cats of various breeds and ages.

Feline liver disease (FLD) is a condition affecting cats caused by fatty deposits in the liver. These deposits form due to excessive amounts of fat in the diet. Fatty deposits can cause inflammation, bleeding, scarring, and eventually cirrhosis. Other causes include genetic disorders, toxins, parasites, and infections.

What Does the Liver Do?

The liver is one of the most vital organs in a cat’s body. It performs over 500 functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, storing vitamins and minerals, synthesizing glucose, blood clotting, bile production, digestion, regulating hormones, and metabolism. In addition, the liver produces bile, which helps break down fats and fat-soluble vitamins.

Bile is stored in the gall bladder until needed. For example, when your cat eats food, its stomach signals to the brain what it ate. This signal tells the brain how much energy to release into the bloodstream to use to perform activities like walking, playing, etc.

If too little energy is released from the food, the brain will send another signal to the liver asking for more bile to help digest the food. On the other hand, if too much energy is released from the food (like eating a large meal), the brain will tell the liver to stop releasing bile because the body doesn’t need any extra energy right now.

What Causes Liver Disease in Cats?

In cats, liver disease can take several forms. Some are caused by bacteria or viruses, while others are related to several diseases and conditions, including infections, toxins, genetic disorders, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and chronic inflammation.

The bacteria that cause feline liver diseases include those that affect cats’ intestines (colon) and those that affect their livers. The most common bacterial infections affecting cats’ livers include Pasteurella multocida, E. coli, Staphylococcus spp., Streptococcus equi subsp: zooepidemicus, and Leptospira interrogans serovar icterohaemorrhagiae.

What Causes Liver Disease in Cats?

What are the Common Liver Diseases in Cats?

  • Cholangiohepatitis Fibrosis

Cholangiohepatic fibrosis (CHF) is a common type of chronic hepatitis in cats. CHF occurs when bile ducts become damaged and scarred over time, causing them to narrow and block the bile flow.

This causes inflammation and damage to the liver cells. The most common cause of CHF is cholangiopathy, which results from infection, injury, or obstruction of the biliary tract.

Other factors may include dietary indiscretion, genetic predisposition, toxins, trauma, and neoplasia.

  • Lymphocytic cholangitis

Lymphocytic cholangitis (LC) is a rare liver disease affecting only cats. LC causes inflammation of the bile ducts and gallbladder, which leads to jaundice. The condition usually occurs in older cats.

LC usually occurs between 2 and 5 years of age, and most cats recover entirely within 1 to 4 months. However, it can be fatal if left untreated.

  • Hepatic lipidosis

Feline hepatic lipidosis occurs when too much fat is stored in the liver cells. This causes the cat’s body to produce excessive amounts of ketones which cause weakness and lethargy. Hepatic lipidosis symptoms vary, but some signs may include dramatic weight loss (over 25 percent of body weight), anorexia, vomiting, sedentary behavior, and diarrhea.

The condition usually affects older cats and those fed diets containing large quantities of meat products. However, it is treatable if caught early.

  • Infectious Peritonitis

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), caused by a virus, is one of the most severe infectious diseases affecting domestic cats. It is a common cause of death in cats with liver disease. It is fatal in up to 90% of cases. There is no known cure.

The most common symptom of infectious peritonitis is abdominal pain. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, weight loss, and dehydration.

  • Chronic Hepatitis

Cats with chronic hepatitis will usually have a history of obesity and will sometimes be overweight. In addition, it is often associated with old age, obesity, diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, and certain types of cancer.

Cats with chronic hepatitis often suffer from liver failure. This condition causes cats to become weak and lethargic. They may vomit blood and lose weight. Their coats may be dull and lifeless.

  • Acute hepatitis

Acute hepatic failure occurs when the liver loses most of its ability to perform essential functions. This happens suddenly and is characterized by nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, weakness, and dehydration. These symptoms typically occur within three weeks of exposure to a toxin, infection, or another factor that damages the liver.

Symptoms of Liver Failure in Cats

It could be liver disease. If you notice symptoms like losing weight, you should stop vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, abdominal pain, or jaundice. Your cat may even become dehydrated because he isn’t drinking enough water. Sometimes, the cat’s appetite decreases, and its coat becomes dull and matted.

If your cat is losing weight, you should take him to the veterinarian to check his health. You’ll probably find out that there are some things you can do to help keep your cat healthy.

Diagnosis of Liver Disease in Cats

Diagnosis of Liver Disease in Cats

There are many ways to diagnose liver disease in cats. The most common method is through blood tests. Your veterinarian may perform routine blood work, including testing for total protein, albumin, globulin, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and bilirubin.

If your cat has any abnormal values, it may suffer from liver disease. However, not every abnormality indicates liver disease. So, your vet should run additional tests to determine whether there is actual damage to the liver.

Your vet may recommend imaging studies, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or nuclear scintigraphy. These procedures allow your vet to view internal organs, detect tumors, and evaluate organ function.

Finally, your vet may suggest a biopsy. This procedure involves removing tissue samples from the affected area(s). Tissue samples are examined under a microscope to identify abnormalities.

Treatment for Cats with Liver Disease

Treatment options for liver disease in cats depend upon the severity of the problem. Treatment includes dietary management, medication, surgery, and euthanasia.

  • Dietary management involves reducing the amount of fat consumption and fiber intake. It would be best to feed your cat a diet that contains less fat and fewer calories.
  • Medications are often prescribed to treat cats with liver problems. These medications can slow down the progression of the disease. They can also improve the quality of life for your cat. Medication treatments include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anticoagulants, and corticosteroids.
  • Surgery is another option for treating cats with liver disease. It is used to remove diseased livers. Your veterinarian will recommend surgery based on the severity of your cat’s condition.
  • Euthanasia is the last resort treatment for cats with liver disease. This is performed when the cat cannot recover from severe illness. Euthanasia means putting your cat to sleep. It’s done when other treatments aren’t working.

Your vet will give you recommendations for managing your cat’s liver disease. They will also explain the pros and cons of various treatments.

Recovery after Treatment

Liver disease in cats can be treated successfully. But, it requires careful monitoring by veterinarians and owners alike. In addition, recovery depends on how quickly your cat recovers after receiving medical care.

A healthy diet is essential to preventing the recurrence of liver disease in cats. Veterinarian Dr. Sarah Gantenbein recommends feeding dry food exclusively to cats with chronic liver disease. She says that canned foods contain too much fat and protein, which can worsen the problem. Dry food contains less fat and protein and is easier to administer.

Regular follow-ups with the veterinarian are necessary to monitor progress. They need immediate veterinary attention if a cat develops jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or weight loss. You should contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any signs of illness.

In general, recovery takes about two weeks. Your cat must eat a special diet and receive regular veterinary visits during this time. In addition, your veterinarian will monitor your cat’s progress.

The prognosis for cats recovering from liver disease is good. Most cats make a full recovery. However, some cats have mild symptoms that don’t require further treatment. Others develop complications during their recovery period.

Complications of Cat Liver Disease

Complications occur when your cat suffers from more than one type of liver disease. Complications include:

  • Hepatic encephalopathy — A build-up of toxins in the brain caused by liver failure.
  • Ascites — An accumulation of fluid around the lungs.
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma — Cancerous cells form within the liver.
  • Portal hypertension — The pressure build-up in the portal vein carries blood away from the liver.
  • Hepatitis — Inflammation of the liver.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best food for cats with Liver Disease is a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

  1. Purina One Plus – This dry cat food is made from 100% natural ingredients. It contains no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, fillers, or additives. The main ingredient is a chicken meal which provides protein and essential amino acids.
  2. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline – This canned diet is designed for cats with liver problems. It contains only fresh meat and vegetables.
  3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dry Cat Food – This dry kibble cat food includes various fruits and vegetables. It is formulated to give your cat the nutrients it needs to maintain good health.
  4. Iams – This is a wet cat food formulated for cats with liver diseases. It contains vitamins A, D, E, and K, along wit calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and iodine.
  5. Wellness Grain-Free Chicken & Rice Formula – This is a grain-free dog food to help dogs with liver problems. It is made from chicken, rice, peas, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, apple juice concentrate, flaxseed oil, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and probiotics.

The life expectancy of a cat suffering from liver disease is three years. This is because cats suffer from liver diseases at a younger age than dogs do. Cats usually live up to 10 years old, while dogs live up to 12 years old.

Cats usually die of kidney failure due to their kidneys being too small. They also get sick from heart problems, diabetes, cancer, and many other illnesses.

The cost of treating liver disease in cats varies from $200-$500 per cat, depending on the severity of the condition. The most common treatment options include medication (e.g., antibiotics), surgery, and dietary changes. In some cases, the only option available is euthanasia due to the severity of the illness.

If your cat has been diagnosed with liver disease, then there are several things that you can do to help them recover. The first thing you should do if your cat suffers from liver disease is to ensure they get plenty of rest.

Cats that are ill often become lethargic and depressed, so keep them active and engaged as much as possible. You should also ensure that they receive regular veterinary checkups. Your vet can tell whether or not your cat’s liver condition is improving, and if it isn’t, they can recommend some treatment options.

A cat with liver disease may have a shortened life expectancy due to the severity of the illness. Some cats survive several years, but many die within six months to a year.

Symptoms of liver failure in cats may include jaundice, loss of appetite, vomiting, progressive yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (cyanosis), clayey or blood-tinged stools, poor respiratory effort, weakness, and trembling.

Liver disease can be fatal in cats, and many factors can worsen a cat’s health condition and eventually lead to death. Some of the most common causes of liver disease in cats include viral hepatitis, allergic inflammation of the liver (hepatitis exanthematous), primary biliary cirrhosis, accidental or intentional abuse by humans, Feline Panleukopenia Virus infection, and nutritional deficiencies.

Can a cat recover from liver failure? A cat may be able to recover from liver failure, provided the condition is treated quickly. If the disease is caught early, most cats will have a good prognosis and can survive. However, a cat may die if the illness progresses rapidly or is not recognized until too late.

The causes of sudden liver failure in cats are poorly understood, but some believe that a combination of environmental toxins and underlying medical problems may cause it. Some common causes of liver disease in cats include feline leukemia virus (FeLV), lifestyle choices such as overeating high-fat food, and chronic hepatitis C infection.

The best way to help your cat with liver problems depends on the situation. However, some tips that may be helpful include:

  1. Ensure your cat has access to fresh water and food. This will help keep them hydrated and healthy overall.
  2. Keeping your cat’s diet clean and well balanced – a high fat or sugar content can lead to liver problems in cats.
  3. Pay attention to your cat’s physical appearance and behavior. It may be time to seek veterinary care if they are noticeably distressed or have any changes in their appetite or energy levels.

Most cats with liver disease do not appear to be in pain, but some may be. For example, if the cat is not eating or drinking, has jaundice, or has other signs of illness or injury, it may be in pain.

The end-stage symptoms of liver disease can vary and depend on the particular type of liver disease. However, some common signs and symptoms that occur in advanced stages of liver disease include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), an increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, and Bright’s Disease (a disorder that causes a gradual decrease in the production of red blood cells).

A cat’s liver can usually regenerate, but surgery may be necessary to remove part of the liver if the shutdown is severe and lasts for more than a week. Without proper care, a severely damaged liver can eventually lead to death.

Liver failure in cats typically manifests as jaundice, ascites (fluid accumulation in the body), and signs of dehydration. Cats with liver failure may also experience lethargy and anorexia (loss of appetite).

There is currently no evidence to suggest that cat liver disease is contagious. However, because liver disease can cause severe health concerns and even death, you must consult a veterinarian if your cat displays any signs of illness or if you notice changes in its behavior or appetite.

There is no one answer to this question, as stress can have many different effects on the body, and liver disease may not be one of them. Some possible causes of liver disease in cats include polycystic kidney disease, hepatitis C, hemochromatosis, neoplasia, and Primary Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Suppose your cat has unexplained changes in appetite or behavior or signs of illness such as jaundice or right upper quadrant pain. In that case, bringing them to a veterinarian for a diagnosis is essential.

Some versions of hepatitis can cause seizures in cats, but it is not always the case, and there isn’t a good way to know for sure.

A tiny percentage of cats have genetic liver disease. However, the likelihood of your cat developing this condition because they have a particular gene is relatively low.

There are several potential reasons why this could be the case. For example, some enzymes that break down proteins can cause inflammation and skin irritation. Additionally, liver diseases may lead to a build-up of toxins in the body which can trigger itchiness and other symptoms.

Finally, since many factors can contribute to itchiness in cats (including age, environment, and overall health), it is difficult to make a definitive statement as to whether liver disease plays a role.

A liver biopsy is a procedure in which a small amount of liver tissue is removed and examined under a microscope. The biopsy aims to determine the liver’s size, shape, and function, triggering.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

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