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What is Liver Disease?

Since the symptoms of liver disease are not specific, owners may have difficulty recognizing a potential problem. Any cat who has stopped eating for two to three days or is exhibiting other concerning symptoms should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Liver disease is serious and can be life-threatening. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to the likelihood of recovery.

The liver is responsible for many important functions including filtering toxic substances from the blood, digesting nutrients, and storing vitamins and minerals. Its many functions make the liver susceptible to damage, while its ability to regenerate decreases the likelihood that damage will be permanent. Cats with liver disease may experience a neurological syndrome known as hepatic encephalopathy which is indicated by behaviors such as aimless wandering, circling, and head pressing. Loss of appetite and extreme weight loss are also potential signs of the condition. 

Liver Disease Average Cost

From 405 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,800

Symptoms of Liver Disease in Cats

Symptoms of liver disease will depend on the underlying cause. Affected cats may experience one or more of the following:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice
  • Pale gums
  • Excessive thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Excessive drooling
  • Muscle Wasting
  • Distended abdomen 
  • Buildup of abdominal fluid
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Changes in liver size
  • Behavior changes
  • Lethargy
  • Depression 
  • Collapse

Types

Common types of liver diseases include:

  • Hepatic lipidosis
  • Cholangiohepatitis (acute or chronic)
  • Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis
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Causes of Liver Disease in Cats

Hepatic Lipidosis

Hepatic lipidosis, or “fatty liver disease”, is the most common severe liver disease found it cats. It is more likely to occur middle-aged cats and those that are extremely overweight. The condition is connected to malnutrition which may be caused by any of the following factors:

  • Lack of protein or inability to process protein
  • Prolonged Anorexia
  • Stress 
  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Changes in Diet
  • Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer

Cholangiohepatitis 

Cholangiohepatitis has been linked to the following conditions:

  • Bacterial, fungal, or protozoal infection
  • Feline infectious peritonitis
  • Feline leukemia
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Liver flukes

Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis

Lymphocytic portal hepatitis is thought to be related to an immune or thyroid disorder, though no specific cause has been definitively determined.

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Diagnosis of Liver Disease in Cats

The treating veterinarian will begin by reviewing the cat’s medical records and discussing with owners the severity and onset of symptoms. The vet should also be made aware of any preceding events that may have brought about the condition. A standard set of lab tests will be ordered including complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, electrolyte panel, and urinalysis. X-rays or ultrasound may be ordered and a liver biopsy or needle aspiration will be needed to make a definitive diagnosis.

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Treatment of Liver Disease in Cats

Treatment recommendations will depend on the underlying cause of the liver disease and the severity of symptoms. 

Stabilization

If the cat is suffering from advanced disease or displaying acute symptoms, intensive in-patient care and treatment will likely be necessary to stabilize it before other treatment methods are considered. Electrolytes imbalances will need to be addressed promptly. The cat is likely to receive fluid therapy and supplements of B-complex vitamins, thiamine, and cobalamin. Abdominal swelling will likely be treated with a needle aspiration or prescribed diuretic. 

Nutritional Support

If the cat is malnourished, the vet may prescribe an appetite stimulant. It is often more likely that the cat will require food to be administered through a syringe or feeding tube. This many need to continue for as long as several weeks until the cat is able to consume sufficient calories on its own.

Prescription Drugs

Depending on the underlying cause, the veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics and/or corticosteroids to address any underlying infection and reduce inflammation. In the case of lymphocytic portal hepatitis, immunosuppressant drugs may also be recommended.

Dietary Changes

Once the cat has been released from the hospital, the focus will be on minimizing stress on the liver by reducing the amount of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and drugs that must be processed. This can be accomplished in part by feeding a high-quality diet that is high in protein, calorie-dense, easy to swallow, easily digested, and low in sodium. The cat will need to frequently be fed small meals to minimize stress on the system. Ongoing dietary supplements may also be prescribed.

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Recovery of Liver Disease in Cats

If an affected cat is able to survive the first few days of treatment, prognosis is generally good and recovery can be expected within three to six weeks. It is important that veterinary recommendations are followed and that dietary restrictions are adhered to closely. Follow-up visits will be necessary to ensure proper recovery.

Efforts should be made to ensure that the cat is not stressed, and it should be given a quiet place to rest and recover away from children and other animals. Owners will need to keep a close eye on the cat’s weight, hydration, and overall health and inform the veterinarian promptly of any changes.

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Liver Disease Average Cost

From 405 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,800

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Liver Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Don't know,found in a street.

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3_4months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating Anything From Last 2-3 Days

Not eating from 2-3 days.became very weak & not performing activities.all the day stay seated at only one place.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Puppies are very prone to parasites and infectious diseases like parvovirus. From your description, this puppy sounds quite sick and it would be best to have it seen by a veterinarian right away. I hope that all goes well for the puppy.

Aug. 7, 2020

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Lathithi

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British Shorthair

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12 Months

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Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Loss Of Appetite
Yellow Skin

The Vet said it is a Liver Disease and we treated him with one weak duration IV therapy with the Supplements and one day he stopped eating and I gave him assistant feeding I’m sad and broken heart I tried everything his status is getting worse and worse

Aug. 25, 2018

Lathithi's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

2 Recommendations

There are various causes for liver disease and it is important to determine the underlying cause of the liver disease so that it can be treated along with the supportive and symptomatic care given. Without examining Lathithi I cannot say what the specific cause of the liver disease is, but you should be feeding a hepatic diet and continue with the milk thistle and general support. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 25, 2018

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Chittu

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Persian and siamese cross breed

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14 Months

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Fair severity

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3 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Pain When Lifted
Abdominal Swelling
Limbs And Arms Swelling

My cat is 14months old. He wasnt eating for 2 3 days. He has been over medicated because of several reasons. Fungal infection and many other injuries .My vet said he's been diagnosed with liver disorder but he's eating properly and water intake is also satisfactory. What should I do now?

Aug. 24, 2018

Chittu's Owner

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3 Recommendations

Without examining Chittu and looking at the blood results, it is difficult to say what the best specific cause of action would be; there are difficult issues which may affect the liver and have different underlying causes, so it is important to narrow in on a specific diagnosis so that treatment may be effectively directed. Supportive and symptomatic care should be given along with an hepatic diet and Denamarin (silybin and SAMe) until an underlying cause is determined. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 25, 2018

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Luna

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I’m not sure

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Four Months

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Mild severity

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2 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

my cat has been acting weird and vomiting. i recently changed her cat food so i was thinking that could have been it. but then a few weeks ago i believe she got into some of my medication or possibly ate a caterpillar (they get into my house when it rains) i will probably take her to the vet one day this week when i get a chance. i was just wondering if maybe there are some good medicines to soothe her stomach and get her to keep food down. thanks!

Aug. 21, 2018

Luna's Owner

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2 Recommendations

If you suspect that Luna got into your medications you should visit your Veterinarian immediately since many medications for humans (especially over the counter NSAIDs) are toxic for cats; also some caterpillars (Monarch Butterfly) are toxic to cats due to their diet of milkweed. You should visit a Veterinarian to be on the safe side since I cannot be sure of the cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 21, 2018

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Gracie

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tabby

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eating And Drinking Less

Gracie has been nibbling at her food and limited water .... I noticed her stool was tan in color .... have not seen that before .... is it liver failure out of the blue ..... she was boarded for the first time for a couple days .... I thought her change in eating and drinking when she came home was stress .... she is also sneezing but no running nose or watery eyes .... I don’t want to traumatize her more by catching her and taking her to the vet .... of not needed

Aug. 8, 2018

Gracie's Owner

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2 Recommendations

A change in faecal colour may be attributable to a few different causes including gastrointestinal upset, infections, parasites, stress, change in diet among other causes; you should keep an eye on Gracie for signs of improvement and visit your Veterinarian if there is no improvement or symptoms get worse. Without examining her or running a test (or two) I cannot say what the specific cause is. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 8, 2018

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Nemo

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short hair

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Fever
Weakness
Vomiting
Poor Appetite
Not Moving
Liver Infection

My cat, Nemo, about a week ago stopped eating. He wasn't eating for a day or two. Couple days leading up to it, he had vomited few times. He was looking really weak as well. Just sitting around and not doing much. My parents took him to the vet straight away. The vet said he had liver infection and some fever (mentioned something about him didn't like being touched on his back). He gave some antibiotics and said if his condition doesn't get better in a week, then to come back. After giving antibiotics, he started eating again. He was moving about but not much. He was eating less than before but was still eating. Two days ago, again he was barely eating. My mum had to force feed a bit. Yesterday, they decided to go back to to the vet. He said Nemo was doing better than before. It will take time for him to get better. He gave some injection and another set of antibiotics. Once we brought him home, he was ok. Ate a bit I think. At night, my sister noticed he was looking weak. He couldn't really walk. He passed urine/poo outside of his litter which he has never done before. They gave him some water/fluids and tried to give him food. And put him in his bed to sleep. In the morning, when they woke up he had passed away. He was (almost) only 2 years old, his birthday was in May. We didn't notice any earlier signs. He was much thinner than normal cats but we thought that's just how he is. I am not sure if he had some underlying condition for a while and that's why he never put on much weight. Or the vet didn't realise how serious of his condition was. We had got him when he was 3 months old. It is so sad to see him go. He was just a baby, the house feels so empty without him. We are all devastated this happened so suddenly. I don't understand how he can just pass away so suddenly and quickly with just a liver infection.

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Mama

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Noreigon forest cat

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1 Week

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Walking Funny
Walking Funny - Hard Time Also Jump

Hello , My cat was exposed to a toxic mold environment, I’ve recently removed us from this environment and took my cat to the vet for care and her liver numbers were double what they should be. She has been doing well, eating and drinking good and she’s on a good diet . This morning she had a seizure. Is it time to let her go before she has more seizures and she suffers? She is almost 16years old. :(....

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Joyful Sound

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muted calico

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Low Bp, Liver

My cat (10 years old) became a little bit less meowing and wanted to sit and cuddle more. (Thought it was just getting cold outside etc.). She started vomiting every time she ate but I thought it was new food. I noticed she hadn't eaten but had to go out of town. Friend did not notice if she ate or not. I presume she did not eat while I was gone for 4 days. Monday I took her to the vet. Liver billirubin and ALT were very high but all other enzymes and white blood count normal. A few enzymes were a bit high. After two days on fluids and vitamins and force feeding at vet I brought her home. I force fed her Wed, Thurs, and took her back Friday to check levels. Said her billirubin and ALT had skyrocketed but other levels had come down. Saturday she didn't really want to be fed. Seemed weaker. Took her to LSU vet school and they put her on IV. Then called that her blood pressure was only 60 and they could not get it up. Said she was not going to last. Gave her a strong blood pressure med to try and get it up but didn't work. Now they are saying its time to put her down because with a low bP there is now other organ damage. They have not tried to feed her because she is in pretty bad shape. I can't understand my vet saying the white blood count was fine and at LSU they said it was through the roof. I have told them that I cannot do that right now and to continue antibiotics and see if that may bring her bp up but they are saying even if it went up a low BP for that long means other parts of her are damaged. When I went in the room to see her she knew me and my voice and seemed to perk up. I am beside myself in tears. I don't know what to do. They keep pressuring me to put her down.

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Ying

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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

Critical severity

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4 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Weight Loss. Sickness. Jaundice

My cat was given 3 weeks to live in 2011. He was around 6 to 7 years old. Lost all his body weight and muscles. I was preparing to lose him. He had anorexia due to stress of a stray cat. Which caused which either was cholangeol hepatitis or hepatic lipidosis. Whatever its was was killing him. He stopped eating. Was being sick non stop, eventually got jaundice. Vets were filling him full of steroids which I wasnt happy about as it is very toxic. I started tube feeding hills a/d high protein food. Started him on denamarin supplement. Stopped the steroids. Started giving him dandelion tincture to help remove toxins that was in him. I was force feeding him with a syringe 30cc of hills a/d every 2 hours without fail. To get his liver to start using food properly. The milk thistle denamarin supplement saved my cats life. From total liver failure and kidneys heading the same way, a month of denamarin and the high protein food. He started putting on weight, eating on his own and also stopped vomiting. His liver completely regenerated thanks to the milk thistle denamarin. Hes still alive today almost 2020. I recommend denamarin to any cat with liver issues. I cant recommend it enough. It saved my boys life. He had 3weeks left to live according to vet in 2011. He is still going strong today

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Puppy

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Long hair domestic

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Yellow Eyes
Yellow Eyes And Skin. Lethargy

My beloved kitty just passed away last night. He was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis. He was 18 pounds and we didn't notice he wasn't eating. He began hiding and he turned yellow. We took him to the vet and he had been going daily for treatment for over 2 weeks. We bought him home from the vet yesterday and he was acting listless and was having trouble walking. We forcefed him every 2 hours. He layed on his bed and I was loving on and rubbing his back. He meowed one time then he just died... I don't understand he was in treatment and we were force feeding him food and water. He was only 5 years old. He was down to 13 pounds when we first took him to the vet. He was maintaining his weight. I loved him so much and don't know why he died!!!

Liver Disease Average Cost

From 405 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,800

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