The Dietary Management of Cat Liver Disease

Cat liver disease is not uncommon, especially as your cat gets older. A damaged liver can rapidly deteriorate the entire body's functioning.

Watching for symptoms of liver disease can avert a medical emergency for your cat. Usually signs of liver damage appear when the organ is already severely impaired.

Symptoms of Liver Disease

  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • Jaundice
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Convulsions or spasms
  • Frequent urination, and water intake
  • Urine turning orange
  • Discoloured, grey feces
  • Foul breath
  • Pendulous, swollen belly

Causes of Feline Liver Disease

It is important to diagnose the cause of liver disease, as its treatment and precautions vary accordingly.

Hepatic Lipidosis (also known as Fatty Liver Disease)

When your cat reduces her appetite or stops eating completely, her body is fooled into starvation mode. This triggers the body to use its fat stores for nutrition and energy. Fat is then processed by the liver. Sometimes, the liver may get overloaded and is unable to break up this fat as quickly as necessary. The resulting buildup of fat in the liver leads to an impaired liver function.


When the bile duct gets infected or inflamed, the resulting condition is called cholangitis. When the entire bile processing system and the liver tissue gets inflamed, a condition known as cholangiohepatitis is diagnosed.

Toxic attack

Contact with drugs, toxins or lack of blood to the liver can lead to a poisoning of the liver. Sometimes, a liver shunt may occur where the blood circumvents the liver, thus not getting purified, leading to a rise in toxins.


Liver cancer is not very common in cats. Cancer in a different organ can, however, spread to the liver.


The treatment for your cat's liver ailment depends on the cause of the disease. Medication will include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Subcutaneous fluid therapy
  • Corticosteroids
  • Removal of toxic agents
  • Therapy for bleeding and blood coagulation problems
  • Diet
  • Dietary Management

This is a vital aspect of your cat's recovery from a liver disease. Understanding the role of a balanced diet in her recovery can give you a clear idea of what you can do to make a significant difference to her health.

  • Since there is a failure in the proper functioning of the liver, this means your cat is not getting the nutrients she requires.
  • Providing these in a way that they do not overload the liver is the key to an effective recovery. Limited, frequent and easily digestible meals should be the norm.
  • High protein, low ammonia producing food in moderate quantities will be effective. Cottage cheese, eggs and rice can become the mainstay of your cat's diet.
  • Salt and sodium intake will have to be cut down.
  • Your cat will most likely be reluctant to eat. You may need to force feed or use a feeding tube for some time during the recovery period. Nutrical has proven to be effective as an appetite stimulant, and provides calories and energy.
  • You may also choose organic food for your cat as it is natural and preservative free.
  • Stop giving your cat any shellfish, organ meats such as brain, kidneys, tripe or any food containing fish meal. These produce uric acid which your cat's impaired liver cannot process.
  • Remember to make sure that her diet is chemical free, low fat, moderate protein and rich in carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
  • The liver is a hardy organ which has the ability to function even if more than half of it is removed. Monitoring and managing your cat's diet will reduce the burden on the liver and give it a chance to heal.