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Average Cost

$2,000

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What is Yellow Skin?

If your cat is exhibiting signs of yellow skin, which is also referred to as icterus, it is imperative that they visit a veterinary clinic. Jaundice can happen to cats of any age, breed, or sex and whether they are an indoor cat or an outdoor cat.

Yellow skin in cats is a direct result of jaundice, which is a sign of liver issues just as it is in humans. Since cats are usually covered in fur it is often in the whites of the eyes, in the cat's gums, or in the flaps of their ears that you will notice the yellow skin discoloration.

Symptoms of Yellow Skin in Cats

A yellowing of the skin is only one of the symptoms of liver disease or failure in a cat. If your cat is exhibiting yellow skin it is likely to display some of the following symptoms as well:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Frequent urination
  • Orange-colored urine
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in eating habits

Causes of Yellow Skin in Cats

The main causes of yellow skin in cats are liver issues. These can include:

  • Fatty liver 
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Inflammatory issues in the bowels and the liver
  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Some drugs and toxins, such as heavy metals
  • Cancer

There are also non-liver related problems that can lead to yellow skin in cats.

  • Parasites in the blood
  • Heartworm disease
  • Anemia 
  • Immune deficiency
  • Reactions to blood transfusions

Diagnosis of Yellow Skin in Cats

It is an increased amount of bilirubin in the system that causes jaundice and the yellowing of the skin, both in animals and in humans. Your veterinarian will do a blood test on your cat that will tell them if the bilirubin count is abnormal.

Your vet will also do urinary tests to identify possible causes of yellowing of the skin. Since it could be anything from a viral infection to cancer or a failing liver, it is important that they run as many tests as possible to plan the most effective course of treatment.

Your veterinarian may also ask you some questions to help with the diagnosis. They will want to know when you first noticed the yellowing of the skin, if there have been recent changes in urination habits or bowel movements, and what those changes have been. You should monitor your cat's bathroom habits prior to the visit, as well as after.

Treatment of Yellow Skin in Cats

Once your veterinarian knows the cause of the skin yellowing, they can make a treatment plan for your cat. Jaundice is something you simply cannot treat at home since there are so many underlying factors that could be leading to the skin discoloration. 

Fatty Liver

There are underlying diseases that can lead to fatty liver, or hepatic lipidosis, in cats, including cancer and diabetes. Once the underlying cause is determined, treatment can be started. However, if the illness has progressed to cirrhosis, it may be too late for successful treatment. At this point the best bet is to help the cat remain comfortable for its final days.

The best treatment for a fatty liver is changing the cat’s diet to a healthy one that promotes healing the liver. Because cats with this condition may not be able to eat, a feeding tube could be required, which is not painful but may be needed for many weeks.

Liver Cancer

If your cat’s jaundice is being caused by liver cancer there is potential for a successful recovery. Up to 75 percent of your cat's liver can be removed and still have proper function. Your vet will determine if your cat needs something a drastic procedure depending on the findings of tumors or nodules. 

Oftentimes, liver cancer can be treated with chemotherapy on an outpatient basis without surgery. 

Recovery of Yellow Skin in Cats

Once your cat has received the treatment they need for whichever ailment has caused their yellow skin you will want to keep an eye on them during recovery. Cats that have undergone surgery will need time for lots of rest and should be confined to a small area to promote healing and prevent injury.

It is important to monitor the color and condition of the cat’s skin, eating and drinking habits, urinary and bowel movements, as well as its energy level. Your veterinarian will also recommend you bring your cat in for regular checkups periodically following any treatment.

Yellow Skin Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Waffle
stray
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Yellow Gums
Yellow Skin

My cat has been losing weight very quickly, not only that but he also vomiting quite often, he also has yellowish skin , the only reason I can think of is because my mom couldn't afford a vet so she medicated the cat with meloxicam after an injury he suffered in one of his legs, he's been quite thirsty, but hasn't lost appetite, the skin in his nose, ears and gums are all quite yellow

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin etc…) may be caused by a few different causes which may include liver failure, blocked bile duct, haemolytic anaemia among other causes; without examining Waffle and running a blood test I cannot say what the specific cause is, but would recommend you visit your Veterinarian to determine the specific cause so that the right treatment may be given. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Mufasa
Himalayan
12 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Yellow Eyes and yellow skin

Hello
I have noticed that my cat stopped moving completely and only wants to sleep he has yellow eyes and skin he rarely even goes to the bathroom and always wants to hide what does this mean?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Yelllowing of the skin, or jaundice, happens with liver disease, or anemia. Both conditions are very serious, and Mufasa needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible for assessment and treatment.

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Buddy
Dimestic
6 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

My cats nose is starting to turn yellow but we don’t notice it anywhere else. We had bloodwork done last night because of vomiting and it showed the liver in high levels now he is throwing up again. What do you think is wrong with him?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
There are many different causes for an increase in liver enzymes and bilirubin which may include infections, tumours, poisoning, bile duct obstruction among other causes. Without examining him and seeing test results it is difficult to narrow in on a diagnosis. For the short term, fluid therapy and Denamarin (silybin and SAMe) may be beneficial but you should discuss with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Isabella
Calico
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Rarely drinks water
Weight Loss
Yellow Gums
Loss of Appetite
Yellow toe pad

I may not be able to take her into the vet for a while and I’m hoping to help her as much
as possible. Is there anything out of a vet visit that I can do to help her?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
The problem with yellow skin (jaundice) is that it is a symptom and not a disease or condition; to have the correct treatment it is important to understand why the skin has turned yellow so that the specific cause may be treated. Typical causes for jaundice may include liver failure, blocked bile ducts, haemolytic anaemia among other causes; it is important to visit a Veterinarian immediately as any delay will result in a poorer prognosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Stormi
long hair
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Weakness

My cat skin gums and ears are yellow he is starting to loose weight we tried to wash it off because we didn't know if it was something he got into he lives outside but we are looking for a place to get him fixed so we can bring him back inside he is seeming to act weak lately and not eat as much and his skin has been yellow for the past few days if you could help give us suggestions or solutions that would be great

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Yelllowing of the skin is usually a sign of serious liver disease, and Stormi's decreased appetite and weakness are worrisome. It would be best for him to see a veterinarian right away, as he may need medical treatment.

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Paige
Mancoon/Siamese
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Yellow Gums
Yellow Skin
Yellow Eyes

She has yellow skin and gums she has normal appitite, urniation,and BMs but is vomiting and has very noticeable weight loss. Could it be something other the jaundice?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
Jaundice is a symptom and not a disease, the yellowing of skin is a sign that there is something else wrong which may be due to liver disease, bile duct obstruction, haemolytic anaemia (infectious, parasites, poisoning, tumours) among other causes. You need to visit your Veterinarian for an examination and blood tests. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Milo
Cat
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Frequent Urination
Not Moving

My cat was urinating outside his litter box, he sleeps in the litter box and he’s not eating his food and he barely drink his water this been going on for 2 weeks and his nose is white, what should i do?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
There may be problems happening with Milo's urinary system, and he should be examined by a veterinarian right away, today. They'll be able to look at him, see what is going on, and get him treatment if possible.

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Snowly
short hair
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Yellow Skin

My cat has been loosing weight, the vet tested him but only said that could be his liver but was unable to be accurately since most results were normal, our cat has continued to lose weight and looks weaker today.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Snowly isn't doing well. Two possible causes for jaundice in cats are liver disease and immune mediated anemia. Both of those conditions require aggressive therapy, so if he is not doing well and continuing to deteriorate, he needs to be seen again for more intensive care. If your veterinarian wasn't sure what was going on, you can either have them reassess him and suggest treatment, or you can seek a second opinion with another clinic who may be able to offer more testing and treatment options. I hope that he is okay.

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Princess
American Wirehair
9 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Looks weak
Yellow Skin
Losing weight
Loss of Appetite

She has weight loss, moved from hard to soft food, real meat, and she licks the juice but not eating much. Her ears are turning yellow, but teeth and gums look good.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Princess should be seen as soon as possible by your veterinarian. Those are all signs of liver disease or immune mediated disease, and your veterinarian will be able to examine her, perform any testing that needs to be done, and give you an idea as to what the next best step for her is. I hope that everything goes well for her.

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