You definitely need to know about liver disease in cats if you have a cat and you’re really worried about your cat suffering from said disease. The disease is undeniably very dangerous since it attacks the liver of a cat suffering from it. The liver is, of course, one of the most important parts of a cat’s body.
A cat’s liver is his or her body’s largest internal organ and it’s responsible for various functional, detoxification, and metabolic process. It’s undeniably a very important part of a cat and it’s something that needs to always be in a healthy condition.
A cat’s liver is located in his or her abdomen, under his or her diaphragm. There is something special you might need to know about this specific organ. The liver is considered the only organ in a cat’s body which is able to rejuvenate itself.
The organ is undeniably very interesting on top of playing a very important role in supporting a cat’s life. Consider taking notes of the functions of the liver below if you’re curious about this organ.
The liver has various functions and one of them is cleaning the blood. The liver cleans the blood, removes medications, and removes toxins. It’s an organ that can protect a cat’s body from toxins and medications that may jeopardize the cat’s life.
Aside from cleaning the blood, removing medications, and removing toxin, the liver also regulates chemicals in a cat’s blood. In addition to regulating the chemicals in a cat’s blood, a cat’s liver also produces and secretes bile. Bile aids fat digestion and absorption and thus, it’s something important to a cat’s body.
What is called bile is a fluid that is greenish-yellow in color and consists of waste products and bile acids. Bilirubin is among the things bile consists of. Bile is made by the liver and it’s stored in what’s called the gall bladder.
The liver, aside from producing bile, also breaks down haemoglobin, thus, creating metabolites which are added to bile as bilirubin or pigment. Another thing the liver does is producing specific engines that help in digesting food. The liver also plays a role in food digestion and this shows that it’s without doubt a very important organ.
The liver also converts most of the sugars in a cat’s body into glycerine that is stored up as glycogen until the time comes when it’s needed. Without a doubt, converting sugars into glycerine is something important to do because sugars are things that are very important in mammals.
The liver also stores fat soluble vitamins including Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. These vitamins need bile to be absorbed by a cat’s body and the liver stores these vitamins. Aside from storing these important vitamins, the liver also plays a role in producing blood clotting factors. Of course, this isn’t the last thing the liver plays a role in.
Another thing the liver plays a role in is the manufacture of certain hormones. Aside from playing a role in manufacturing certain hormones, the liver also changes ammonia into urea, which is then excreted in a cat’s urine.
Those are various liver functions you have to add to your notes if you have a cat and you care a lot about your beloved feline friend.
A cat’s liver is something that’s divided into sections which are called lobes. These sections have varied things inside them and each of them consists of thousands of functional structural units. These functional structural units are called hepatic lobules.
Note that there are two blood vessels entering the liver. The first one is the hepatic portal vein, which contains de-oxygenated blood that comes from the digestive system, the pancreas, and the spleen. The second one is the hepatic artery, which contains blood that is rich in oxygen, blood that comes from the lungs.
Liver disease is something that occurs when the liver gets damaged and then the damage results in loss of function. Liver disease can be acute or chronic. When it’s chronic, it’s slow and progressive.
Liver disease in felines can be caused by several things. Here are some of them:
One of the causes of liver disease in felines is Hepatic Lipidosis, which is also called Fatty Liver Disease or Idiopathic Hepatic Lipidosis. It’s a very common liver disease type in felines and it occurs when a cat becomes anorexic.
A cat becomes anorexic when he or she stops eating or reduces the amount of foods he or she’s eating. Because he or she stops eating, his or her body starts using fat stores as fuel.
The fat stores will be sent to the liver and they will be broken down in order to supply nutrients. The bad thing is sometimes the liver becomes overwhelmed and then become unable to process this specific fat as quickly as it has to.
This results in fat building up in the liver. The fat that builds up in the liver then interferes with the liver’s normal function.
If your cat’s exposed to drugs, you have to b worried because if he or she is, he or she will probably be exposed to toxins.
Damage by toxins can cause liver disease and you have to do your best to prevent your cat from getting exposed to drugs. Damage by toxins can be caused by toxins, lack of blood that goes to the liver, or exposures to drugs.
Cholangitis or cholangiohepatitis complex is some related infectious and or inflammatory disorders that attack the liver and or the biliary tract.
Cholangiohepatitis is inflammation of the biliary system, which could also become inflammation of the liver. Cholangitis is something that is related to inflammation or infection of the bile duct.
In these conditions, the causes of infection can include pancreatitis, FIP, bacterial infection, IBD or inflammatory bowel disease, and parasitic infection which include toxoplasmosis.
Cancer is also among the things that cause liver disease in felines. There are various different kinds of tumor that can affect a cat’s liver.
Note that primary liver cancer or cancer that begins in the liver is something that’s actually uncommon in cats. Also note that most liver cancers originate from other sites and then spread to the liver.
The next cause of liver disease in felines is toxoplasmosis. It’s caused by dangerous intracellular protozoa which is called toxoplasma gondii.
Note that most infected cats show no infection symptoms but in certain cases damages to various organs may occur and those various organs include the liver.
Portosystemic shunt, which is also called liver shunt, is an abnormal communication between the systemic venous system and the portal system. This abnormal communication allows the intestinal blood in a cat to be delivered to the systemic circulation before hepatic detoxification is done.
Note that a shunt means the blood bypasses the cat’s liver and results in the blood not getting detoxified by the liver. It can also result in a dangerous rise in toxins.
Note that portosystemic shunts might be acquired or congenital and most shunts in felines are congenital. They are known as CPSS. You should know that cats usually demonstrate clinical signs in within the time between the moment they are born and the moment they reach the age of 12 months.
It’s important for you to know that liver disease can actually happen to cats of any age. However, in younger cats, the disease is usually caused by a toxic hepatopathy or portosystemic shunt. If you wonder what toxic hepatopathy is, it’s the ingestion of drugs or toxins.
The symptoms of liver disease in felines can vary since there are various things that can cause the disease. Oftentimes, the symptoms can even be non specific and vague.
Here are two of the early symptoms that cat owners may notice:
Weight loss is among the early signs of liver disease. Thus, you have to consider immediately bring your cat to your veterinarian if he or she starts losing weight and you think there’s something strange with the way he or she loses weight.
Also consider taking your cat to your veterinarian if he or she loses appetite and you think there’s something fishy about it.
When your cat’s liver’s more damaged, there will be further symptoms including:
Polyura is increased urination while polydipsia is increased thirst. Take your cat to your reliable veterinarian if either one of them happens.
Ascites or abdominal effusion is the next symptom to be worried about. It happens when there’s fluid that has built up in the peritoneal cavity. The buildup of fluid is caused by high blood pressure or portal hypertension in the liver’s portal vein.
Jaundice or icterus is the next liver disease symptom of liver disease in felines. The signs of jaundice include yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes, and the eyes.
What causes it is hyperbilirubinema or high levels of bilirubin contained in the blood. What’s called bilirubin is a yellow bile pigment which is made through the breakdown of the cat’s red blood cells.
If your cat lacks energy and enthusiasm, you have to be worried because it can be a sign of liver disease.
What’s called hepatomegaly is enlargement of the liver whereas what’s called microhepatica is small liver. You have to be worried both when your cat’s liver enlarges or become small.
Of course, you should not be relaxed when your cat experiences seizures since seizures can be a sign of something very dangerous.
Note that toxins that build up because the liver cannot function properly anymore can cause a cat to experience seizure.
You also need to be worried when your cat vomits and you know there’s something strange about it.
Also consider bringing your cat to your veterinarian when he or she has diarrhea.
Bad breath can be a sign of various dangerous things including liver disease.
If your cat has dark colored yet clear urine because there’s bilirubin in it, you have to be prepared to accept the fact that your cat might have liver disease.
Of course, you might need help from your veterinarian to find out about the presence of bilirubin.
The diagnosis of liver disease in felines involves a veterinarian performing a physical examination of the cat. The veterinarian will try to run some tests including a biochemical profile.
The treatment for liver disease in felines depends on the causes. If the cause is hepatic lipidosis, the treatment that can be done includes intensive nutritional support. If the cat is dehydrated, the treatment that can be done is a fluid and electrolyte therapy.
If the cause if cholangitis or cholangiohepatitis complex, the treatment that can be done includes supportive care with IV. If this is the cause, the treatment can be done also includes the prescription of antibiotics if the cause is bacterial.
If damage caused by toxins is the cause, the treatment that can be done includes stopping the toxins immediately, removing the toxins from the body using activated charcoal, and supportive care.
If the cause is portosystemic shunt, the treatment that can be done includes surgical ligation if financially and physically possible, supportive care if necessary, and a prescription diet that’s restricted in protein.
Those are some of the treatment options available for cat owners with cat who suffer from liver disease. Write them down if you are in need of knowledge on liver disease in felines.