Feline Liver Tumors

Feline liver tumors can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Liver tumors may be primary, meaning they originate in the liver, or secondary, meaning they have spread to the liver from another organ. Primary liver tumors are more rare than secondary liver tumors, but also easier to treat.

Causes of Feline Liver Tumors

The liver is responsible for removing many of the toxins from your cat's body. If your cat is exposed to carcinogens, toxic chemicals, spoiled food, food additives, pesticides, dyes or certain plants, these toxic substances could accumulate in the liver, raising his risk of developing liver tumors later in life. Liver tumors typically appear in cats older than ten years of age. Males have a slightly higher risk than females of developing liver tumors.

Types of Feline Liver Tumors

Some primary liver tumors in cats are benign, or non-cancerous. These tumors don't necessarily need to be removed, unless they grow so large that they affect the function of other organs in the cat's body. Sometimes, benign liver tumors can lead to lowered blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia, in cats.

Malignant, or cancerous, liver tumors should be removed if possible, because they can spread to other parts of the body. Primary liver tumors are easier to treat than secondary liver tumors which have already spread to the liver from some other organ. Primary liver tumors can be removed if they have not yet spread. However, by the time symptoms become evident and a diagnosis is made, liver cancer has usually spread to other organs.

Symptoms of Liver Tumors in Cats

Symptoms of feline liver tumors include:

  • Weight loss
  • Pale gums
  • Jaundice
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal distension
  • Vomiting
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Difficulty breathing

Diagnosing Feline Liver Tumors

Your vet will need a complete medical history and physical exam to diagnose feline liver tumors. He'll want to run a number of tests, including a complete blood count, a biochemical profile and a coagulation profile. He may want to take X-rays and ultrasounds of the abdomen and chest. He'll want a biopsy of the abnormal tissue so that he can determine whether or not the tumor is cancerous.

Treating Feline Liver Tumors

If your cat is very unwell, he'll require immediate stabilization therapy before a biopsy can be performed. Your cat may require IV fluids and even a blood transfusion.