Liver Disease In Cats – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Here is everything that you should know about liver disease in cats. This guide will provide you causes, diagnosis, and treatments on liver disease in cats.
The liver is responsible for various functions. It comes with vast storage capacity and functional reserve. Moreover, the liver is capable of regenerating.
However, the liver is also susceptible to injury because of its role in detoxifying, metabolizing, and storing numerous toxic compounds. Just like in humans, any unusual symptom like dot liver can lead to multiple health problems.
Let’s see how liver disease in cats is manifested, and what it is in the first place.
Liver Function In Cats
As you know already, the liver is a vital organ. Also, as an essential organ liver is located in the abdomen behind the diaphragm.
As a vital organ, the liver has a broad role in maintaining normal health and healthy metabolism, through a range of different functions.
Some of those functions are:
- Aiding digestion (especially of fats)
- Synthesis of proteins and hormones
- Regulating energy and protein metabolism
- Metabolism and elimination of toxic and waste products
- Immune regulation
Interestingly, there is also a direct blood supply from the gut to the liver, and partly because of this, the liver is actually vulnerable to toxic injury. Therefore, any positions that are eaten will reach the liver in a short period.
Besides, cats are known for increased susceptibility because they lack some metabolic pathways in the liver that could actually fight off some toxins.
The liver can also be affected by several disorders, and another disease, including lymphoma or hyperthyroidism.
What Is Liver Disease?
The simplest way to explain what the liver is and how it works is like this – the liver is a vital organ, responsible for the removal of toxins from the body.
Moreover, the liver is responsible for the storage of minerals and vitamins. So, when the liver can’t do its job and clean the organism, problems occur.
In that manner, the liver can be exposed to a number of different challenges. Since the liver works to release so many different substances, it is exposed to damage from various sources.
Therefore, liver disease results in inflammation, otherwise known as hepatitis. So, if left untreated, this condition can lead to loss of function. How? Healthy liver cells are being replaced by scar tissue.
Other body issues can lead to liver distress, as well. Luckily, liver disease can be managed if detected on time. Moreover, the progression of liver disease can be limited.
The practice showed that cats, in general, continue to live happily and healthy after their liver disease treatment is done. Before we discuss what the best treatment options are, let’s see what the symptoms are and what causes it.
Liver Disease Symptoms
If you suspect that your feline suffers from liver disease, you might want to search for the following signs:
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Excessive drooling
- Increased thirst
- Changes in behavior
- Yellowing of skin
- Whites of eyes
These symptoms are not fixed, and they may depend on the severity and the cause. So, knowing about additional over disease signs can’t harm. That being said, you should react immediately if you notice fever in your feline, vomiting, or increased thirst.
In some rare cases, liver disease may cause fluid to accumulate in the abdomen (ascites). Furthermore, in more severe infections and advanced levels of liver disease, yellowing of the gums and skin may appear. This condition is also known as jaundice.
In some cases of liver disease, extremely severe ones, you can notice:
- often seizures
- abnormal behavior
- excess salivation
The biggest issue with liver disease symptoms is that they are not unique.
These symptoms can quickly address to another disease as well. For example, a build-up fluid can easily be mistaken for weight gain, which can lead to obesity eventually. So, if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, you should contact your veterinarian.
After specific tests, your veterinarian will be able to tell you if your feline suffers from liver disease or not. Also, as you may guess, appetite loss is a clear indicator that something might be wrong.
This is even more alarming if your feline suffers from obesity.
If your feline miss to eat for three days straight, the complications could be fatal.
If a cat loses interest in food, she may experience Feline Hepatic Lipidosis.
This condition is known as a condition that’s linked with an alarming build-up of fat in the liver. Long story short, if your feline is not eating, consult your veterinarian immediately. Before we see how veterinarians can diagnose liver disease, let’s see what causes liver disease in the first place.
Liver Disease Causes
Liver disease may appear because of various reasons. They may vary from cat to cat because each feline is an individual. However, some mutual factors can increase the chance of your cat getting liver disease.
Some of these factors are:
- Age: senior cats are more prone to various diseases. So, in geriatric cats liver disfunction is a common state.
- Breed: sadly, but some breeds are prone to certain health issues. When it comes to liver disease and cat breeds, this condition can be often seen in Siamese cats. In some cases, Siamese’sare even born with liver disease, or they tend to develop the liver disease later in life.
- Obesity: as you probably know already, obesity is a life-threatening condition. This unhealthy state can create real distress in anyone, pets, and humans. Therefore, obesity in cats can create a more suitable environment for liver disease.
- Chemicals and medications: these compounds often contain acetaminophen which can damage the liver in cats, of any age.
Now once you know what the symptoms are, and you know what can lead to liver disease, let’s see how liver disease in cats can be diagnosed.
Liver Disease Diagnosis
If you notice any of the earlier mentioned liver disease symptoms, you should take your feline to the veterinarian’s office. This is the only way to know for sure if your feline suffers from liver disease or not.
You should go prepared. Write down the symptoms so you can inform the veterinarian about the cat’s condition as accurately as possible.
Also, if you have a cat’s history records, make sure that you bring them with you. So, how will veterinarian decide if your cat suffers from liver disease or not? You can expect blood and urine tests, as the first check.
The veterinarian will check:
- Bilirubin levels
- Liver enzymes
- Bile acids
- Hematology, and
- Proteins in the blood
Blood tests are, in general, sufficient to notice if there are any anomalies within the body. Therefore, blood tests can confirm the presence of liver disease. However, it can be challenging to assess the severity or extent of disease from tests alone, and it may be hard for them to reveal the underlying cause.
Some of the blood changes can also occur with other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus and hyperthyroidism. In some cases, further tests are required. Your veterinarian may also use X-rays to evaluate the liver condition.
An ultrasound may also be included to examine the size and structure of the liver.
Ultrasound method can be used to search for any evidence of obstruction to the flow of bile. All in, both ultrasound and X-rays can be handy in helping to narrow down the causes of liver disease. In some cases, a liver biopsy is mandatory.
Often, to be precise and determine the cause of liver disease, a liver biopsy might be required. A liver sample can be looked at by a pathologist, and this method is usually straightforward.
A liver biopsy is usually performed under an anesthetic and may take the form of a small surgical biopsy. In some cases, it can be only a simple needle biopsy.
Common Liver Diseases In Cats
Liver disease in cats is not one unhealthy issue. There is a wide range of liver disease in cats. This is the main reason why a liver biopsy is so essential.
Only with liver biopsy, an underlying health problem can be diagnosed. Normally, only with the proper diagnosis, the right treatment can be provided. These are the most common, and most important liver conditions in cats:
- Neutrophilic cholangitis: this is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation. It can be seen with intestinal disease and concurrent pancreatic. Diagnose requires a culture of the liver biopsy and a liver biopsy. This type of liver disease is usually treated with antibiotics.
- Lymphocytic cholangitis: this is also inflammatory liver disease, but a non-infectious one. The cause of this condition is still unknown. However, many suspect that it might be linked with the immune system. This type can also be cured with anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs.
- Hepatic lipidosis: this condition occurs when a huge number of fat accumulates within liver cells. By accumulating fat liver become dysfunctional due to wide swelling. Sudden changes can lead to this condition. This type of liver disease can be treated by finding underlying disease first and then using the power of nutrition to regenerate it. As expected, a liver biopsy is a must to confirm this type of health condition. So, intensive nutritional support is mandatory here. The recovery may take months.
- Toxic liver damage: a different set of drugs can lead to toxic liver damage. This can occur due to various drugs and toxins in medications. So before you give your cat any over-the-counter medicine, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian first.
Other Liver Diseases
Many other liver disease types can also occur. Some of them are:
- Amyloidosis and hepatic peliosis
- Liver tumors
- Feline infectious peritonitis
- Portosystemic shunts
Liver Disease Treatment
T6reatmen may vary depending on the cause. This is the main reason why additional tests may be necessary. Still, most common treatment options include proper hydration, proper nutritional support. All in, treatment of liver disease might include:
- Vitamin K
- Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA)
For accurate diagnoses and treatment, always ask your veterinarian for the best option. Also, ask to recommend the best food when your cat suffers from liver disease.
Ask Your Veterinarian About Liver Disease:
1. Should you incorporate specific food in your cat’s diet?
2. Should you change something in the cat’s routine?
3. How quickly can I see sing of improvement in my cat?
4. Can you provide me with written instructions?
5. What is an alarming sign?
6. How can I reach you if I have additional questions?
7. What are the follow-up steps?
8. Will you send me an email or phone me for a checkup?
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