Signs Of Liver Disease In Older Cats

The signs of liver disease in older cats may appear rather quick or more slowly. Symptoms include loss of appetite and weight loss, increased thirst, dark yellow urine, fluid buildup in the abdomen (which may be mistaken for the beginning of obesity), and jaundice (the yellowing of the skin, gums, and the whites of the eyes).

There are five types of liver disease that affect cats:

  • Toxic injury which is caused by bacterial toxins, poisoning, or from lack of blood to the liver.
  • Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), which is often seen as a reaction to another problem and is commonly seen in overweight cats and can be fatal.
  • Liver cancer, even though rare in cats, it may occur when another form of the disease spreads to the liver.
  • Inflammation or infection of the bile ducts and/or liver and is usually seen alongside an infectious disease such as feline leukemia (FeLV) or feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
  • Abnormal communication between blood vessels which causes blood to bypass the liver, usually a congenital condition, and is called portosystemic shunts.

Diagnosis: palpation of abdomen, examination of eyes and gums for signs of jaundice, bloodwork, and possible liver biopsy.

Treatment: will vary on the specific type of disease and may require appetite stimulation or nutritional/dietary changes, drug therapy which typically contains antibiotics, steroids, and immuno-suppressives, and supplements such as milk thistle.

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