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Felinexpress.com Home > Cat Health > Feline Liver Disease

Feline Liver Disease

The liver is a vital organ for cats. In cats, the liver is responsible for metabolizing carbohydrates, fats and protein. The liver is a toxic waste filtration system. When working in prime condition, the liver can successfully break-down most toxic substances making them less toxic. But, when it is diseased, injured or traumatized, the liver can quickly become a deadly weapon in the life of a cat.

Because of its close proximity to the other organs; pancreas and the intestines, if there is disease in one of those organs it can easily spread into the liver. Cats who are only allowed to eat vegan meals are at risk at developing liver disease. The liver needs the proteins found in most meats in order to maintain a healthy working status for the cat. Deprived of these essential proteins puts the liver into harm’s way. The main problem with cats and liver disease is that cats are so skilled at hiding their pain, that by the time they let on they don’t feel good, the liver is pretty far gone.

Common Liver Diseases in cats

Feline Hepatic Lipidosis:
One of the most common forms of liver disease is Hepatic Lipidosis.  Also known as: Feline Fatty Liver Disease, or Feline Fatty Liver Syndrome, untreated, this disease is extremely dangerous for your cat. FHL needs to be attacked aggressively for it turns your cat into Anorexic Annie. Once she starts turning away from her food bowl for over 48 hours, she is susceptible to Feline Hepatic Lipidosis. Her body, without her consent is virtually feeding on itself as the disease sends signals to the brain to start breaking down the fat stores and sending them inside the liver in order to supply her with energy. This push for energy causes large fat clogs that obstruct the bile duct and throws her into liver failure. Annie begins to lose a lot of weight, she still refuses to eat, and she becomes lethargic and withdrawn. She needs a vet quickly. Her treatment will be force feeding or tube feeding, supportive fluids or even hospitalization. If your cat is overweight and you impose on her a quick crash diet, that drastic change in her diet alone can launch her into FHL. So can any changes in her environment as cats need stable routines in order to feel safe.

Inflammatory Liver Disease
Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) is a very serious issue. The symptoms are subtle and can be misdiagnosed initially. Fever, lack of appetite, weight loss and lethargy  and vomiting. Your cat’s inside of her ears, her mouth and her eye membranes will turn yellow in advanced stages of Inflammatory Liver Disease. Blood and urine tests can tell you at what measure the liver is affected. Her feces will be pale in color (almost a pale gray) and she may be urinating enough cat pee to fill a swimming pool.

Liver Neoplasia (cancer)
This is when tumors in the liver occur. Anemia is present if there is internal bleeding. An ultrasound and a needle aspiration (biopsy) are necessary to determine if the cat has Liver neoplasia. Blood work will also be a determining factor.
In their book Cancer and Your Pet, authors Debra Eldridge DVM and Margaret H. Boham write: “When pets do have primary liver cancer, dogs tend to get malignant cancers while cats most often have benign primary liver cancers.” Surgery is often performed depending on how much of the liver is involved.

Toxic Injury to the liver
When a cat displays symptoms of liver disease that is sudden and aggressive, immediate vet intervention is needed. Outdoor cats can typically come into contact with environmental poisons, man-made toxins, anti-freeze and other dangers. Failure to act promptly when a cat is vomiting, lethargic, sore in the abdomen, showing fluid build-up losing weight and peeing large pools of dark orange urine can result in your cat losing her life.

Although the liver is able to regenerate in most instances, prompt veterinary treatment will provide a necessary safeguard toward further deterioration of the liver. If your cat suddenly stops eating or is vomiting a lot, hiding from you, or acting off in behavior, your best course of action is to get her to the vet. There are professional tricks your vet can employ in order to get your cat to eat again. Fluids and special diets will be prescribed that will help to restore health. The trick is to know your cat enough to understand when she isn’t feeling well. This is your time to act quickly for Her sake.

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