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What is Enlarged Liver?

If you notice that your cat is acting lethargic, has a loss of appetite, or they are having abdominal distress, they should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. In fact, if proper treatment is not received, it could lead to full liver failure, which could be devastating to you and your cat.

An enlarged liver in a cat indicates that the organ is swollen. A variety of underlying causes can lead to this condition, which is known in the medical community as hepatomegaly. If you notice that your cat has a swollen abdomen, then you should have your cat examined to see what the underlying issue is. A swollen and enlarged liver can cause parts of the organ to fail to function properly.

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Enlarged Liver Average Cost

From 524 quotes ranging from $400 - $2,000

Average Cost

$900

Symptoms of Enlarged Liver in Cats

When your cat is suffering from an enlarged liver, the following symptoms may be present. Some of these symptoms may be more difficult to see, so if you notice any combination of them, take your cat to see a veterinarian. 

  • An enlarged abdomen 
  • Lethargy and inactivity
  • Discomfort and pain when moved
  • A loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice 
  • Increased thirst and urination
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Causes of Enlarged Liver in Cats

An enlarged liver can be caused by a number of underlying causes. Here are a few of the more common ones:

  • Cholangitis or Cholangiohepatitis are inflammatory bacterial infections in the bile ducts that find their way into the liver.
  • Hepatic Lipidosis is when fat accumulates in the liver and slowly deteriorates the liver’s functionality.
  • Portosystemic shunts occur when the blood in your cat’s body bypasses the liver. This miscommunication prevents the blood from being cleansed of the toxins in your cat’s system.
  • Liver cancer and a few other types of cancer can cause an enlarged liver.
  • Toxic liver damage can also result in an enlarged liver, which can be the result of medications that your cat ingested.
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Diagnosis of Enlarged Liver in Cats

When your cat is ill, it is never recommended to diagnose the illness yourself. A misdiagnosis can actually cause more harm to your cat when it comes to an enlarged liver, especially if the underlying cause needs immediate treatments. Here are some of the tests your veterinarian may use to diagnose your cat:

  • Take an x-ray to determine how large the liver is.
  • Take an ultrasound to ensure that there are no obstructions blocking the pathway into the liver.
  • Check for changes in the ALT, ALP, GGT, and AST enzyme levels. Testing these enzymes will require a blood test.
  • Check your cat’s glucose and cholesterol levels.
  • Check your cat’s bilirubin levels by way of a blood sample to see if they are elevated.
  • Perform a urinalysis to check for ammonium biurate crystals.
  • Test your cat’s thyroid to make sure it is functioning as it should.
  • Take a blood count to measure the number of white and red blood cells in the body.
  • If cancer is a concern, a biopsy of the liver may be taken to be tested.
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Treatment of Enlarged Liver in Cats

Treatments will vary based on the findings of the underlying cause of the enlarged liver. Here is a breakdown of the treatments of some of the most common causes:

Cholangitis and Cholangiohepatitis 

Antibiotics and other drugs may be prescribed. Intravenous fluids will most likely be used to keep your cat hydrated, and their nutritional intake will be monitored. If your cat is vomiting, then your veterinarian may suggest antacids to help. Recovery may only take a few days, unless chronic Cholangitis is the issue, then it could require additional therapy and treatment.

Hepatic Lipidosis

When your cat suffers from this disease, they typically refrain from eating, which causes a failure of the fat that is ingested to be broken down. Until the reason for your cat’s anorexia-like behavior is determined, the best way to treat them is to ensure that they are eating. In most situations, this means that a feeding tube is required. The sooner he or she begins eating on their own, the quicker they will recover. 

Liver Cancer

If cancer is found in the liver it is often recommended that the lobe affected be removed. Chemotherapy can be initiated to slow the progress of the cancer. This treatment is often effective, but cancer that is located in more than one lobe often offers a poor outlook.

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Recovery of Enlarged Liver in Cats

To ensure that your cat’s liver is functioning properly, you must monitor their food intake and drinking habits to assure that the liver is working properly. Give them the antibiotics prescribed by your veterinarian as well as any vitamins that they need to replenish in their systems. Treatment and recovery from an enlarged liver is not a difficult process, but if you ignore the symptoms of an enlarged liver when you first notice them, it could be fatal.

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Enlarged Liver Average Cost

From 524 quotes ranging from $400 - $2,000

Average Cost

$900

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Enlarged Liver Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Sock cat

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5 months

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing Moaning And Extreme Fatigue

My cat was diagnosed with liver failure and wasn't given a chance to live but after a night of fluids he responded a little. And after antibiotics he responded a little more. He now eats and uses the box on his on. But he seems bloated or has fluid in his abdomen. Maybe his liver is swollen. Any advice?

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. At 5 months old, liver disease carries a very guarded prognosis, but if he seems to be improving with therapy, nothing is impossible. If you are able to continue his therapy for a few weeks and monitor him for improvement, I think that it would make sense to try, as long as he is feeling okay.

Oct. 10, 2020

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cat

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Inactive, Sleeping Everytime, Loss Of Appetite, Enlarged Abdomen

My cat is sleeping all the day, she doesn't want to eat, and very inactive, she don't want to play with her mom, her chest little bit of enlarged.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 18, 2020

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Enlarged Liver Average Cost

From 524 quotes ranging from $400 - $2,000

Average Cost

$900

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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