Symptoms of Liver Damage in Cats

The liver is an essential organ in the body and has several tasks including the removal of the toxins from the blood and the regulation of the other chemicals in the body. Liver damage is a serious condition that may be fatal. Recognizing the symptoms of liver damage can save your cat's life.

Liver Functions

Being the largest organ in the cat's body, the liver has numerous functions, including:

  • Toxin removal
  • Chemical regulation
  • Production of bile, which digests and absorbs fat
  • Production of specific enzymes helpful for food digestion
  • Conversion of sugar to glycerine
  • Production of blood clotting substances
  • Production of hormones

Consequently, the liver is a complex organ; if it is damaged, the symptoms will be various, as the liver will not be able to perform its regular tasks.

Symptoms of Liver Damage

The liver damage can be caused by several factors including poisoning, cancer, hepatic lipidosis or various infections that may cause the swelling of the liver.

The symptoms of the liver damage may vary according to the causing factors. Some of the most common symptoms of liver problems include:

  • Jaundice, which will be seen as yellowing of the eyes and the other mucous membranes
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • More frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia), due to the increased amount of toxins in the blood, which are not properly removed; however, the cat may also be dehydrated
  • The enlargement of the abdomen, caused by the enlargement of the liver
  • Lethargy
  • Poor skin and coat condition, may be caused by the lack of hormone production
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting (may be caused by the dysfunctional secretion of bile or the lack of the digestive enzymes that are normally produced by the liver)
  • Seizures
  • Bad breath (halitosis)

Except for jaundice, the other symptoms may also point to other health problems, so the cat needs to be examined.

Diagnosing Liver Damage

The diagnosis of liver damage is essential in establishing the cause and the best course of treatment. The early detection of liver damage can lead to a more promising prognosis.

The typical tests to detect liver damage include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Urinalysis
  • ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and AST (aspartate aminotransferase), which are both enzymes produced by the liver
  • Bilirubin
  • X-rays or ultrasounds to see the size of the liver and detect possible tumors

Treatment Options for Cat Liver Damage

The treatment will depend on the cause of the liver damage and the severity of the damage. The cat may receive intravenous fluids and nutritional support if he is affected by hepatic lipidosis and is dehydrated or is poisoned.

If the liver damage is caused by a tumor, this should be removed if possible.

The vet may also recommend medication to control the vomiting. Corticosteroids may also be helpful.
The cat should be monitored and frequently reevaluated to see if the liver function improves.