(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you, and I appreciate any support. You can read more about affiliate links here)
What Causes Feline Liver Failure?
Firstly, there is a difference between liver disease and liver failure. Liver disease is a general term applied to any disorder that is affecting the liver. The blood tests in this case will show higher levels of liver enzymes.
Apart from fatty liver disease, which is a more common in cats, other types of feline liver diseases are caused by toxins from food and drugs, trauma, heatstroke and infections.
A liver shunt, where the blood bypasses the liver instead of going through it, is a genetic defect in the portal vein but may be acquired in certain cases.
Diagnosing Liver Disease in Cats
Liver disease is usually quite difficult to diagnose. The symptoms of feline liver disease normally have to be observed very carefully, because they often duplicate the symptoms of other diseases.
Until there are definitive results from blood tests, imaging procedures or histology, even veterinarians are wary of confirming a diagnosis of liver disease. Before a definite diagnosis, the typical sequence of events occurs as follows.
- Cat owners observe certain symptoms like diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite and other symptoms known to be associated with liver health
- Blood tests show that liver enzymes like ALT and AST, which normally remain within the liver, show up freely in the blood
- Bilirubin and bile acid levels in the blood are elevated
- Ultrasound tests show an abnormal activity in the liver and an aspirate or a liver tissue is sent for further examination
Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for liver disease in cats. If a particular toxin is identified, efforts should be made to remove it from the diet. If it is being caused by a drug, an alternative medicine should be sought.
Any change in type of stool passed by the cat, or inappropriate behavior in urination and defecation routines should be enough for cat owners to raise the alarm and consult a veterinarian. Jaundice observed as pale gums and yellowish mucous membrane, however, is a definite sign that something may be seriously wrong with the liver.
One of the major causes of feline liver disease is the inefficiency of the feline liver to process fats. This leads to accumulation of fats and ultimately to obesity. A cat’s body should be shaped like an hourglass, with the chest wider than the abdomen.
Cats over 6.4 kilograms are considered to be obese. Professional advice should be obtained for a weight loss program for the cat, which should be started as soon as possible.
Liver disease in cats is dangerous. Certain types of liver diseases are fatal and can only be managed, not cured. Despite the capacity of the organ function even in face of serious assaults, untreated liver disease almost always leads to liver failure and death.
Early treatment and preventive measures like diet modification, keen observation and timely action often are able to halt further damage to one of the most important organs in the cat’s body.
Changing A Cat’s Diet May Help
With many health issues in cats as well as in people, an improvement in the diet can sometimes work wonders. If your cat is NOT already eating a raw diet, please consider changing to one. You can read more about this here: Best Food For Cats
Here is a video on what to look out for – the signs of liver problems in cats: