Symptoms of Enlarged Liver in Cats

An enlarged liver in cats is oftentimes the sign of potentially very serious and harmful health effects. Termed hepatomegaly, the condition in which the liver becomes enlarged may be caused by a number of different things. It can also arise idiopathically, which can puzzle veterinarians and veterinary surgeons to no end. Read on for a brief overview of some of the symptoms of this serious and potentially even fatal condition.

Enlarged Abdomen

Although it may be easier or harder to tell by visual inspection depending upon the exact animal and the case, one of the clearest symptoms of an enlarged liver in a cat is a noticeably larger abdominal area. Kittens tend to have conditions in which parts of their livers expand while other parts remain at a constant and healthy level. These are more difficult to determine by visual analysis than other conditions.

Older cats, on the other hand, are more likely to have their entire liver expand for one reason or another. If this is the case, you may be able to see a noticeable change in the size of your pet's abdomen while he is walking or lying down.

If you notice a lump or an unusual space in your pet's liver, it's a good idea to test it out by feel to confirm your suspicion. While your pet is resting, carefully and gently feel around his abdomen for any signs of distension.


Oftentimes accompanying an enlarged liver are symptoms of liver failure and other liver damage. Enlarged livers may be able to function properly, but they are more likely to be disturbed by different types of chemical imbalances. It may not be possible for your cat's liver to adequately produce as much of the various liver enzymes that it normally needs in order to function as it should. When this happens, your cat can become jaundiced.

This results in a yellowing of the:

  • eyes
  • nose
  • mouth
  • lips
  • gums

You may also notice some unusual discoloration on the pads of your cat's feet or on his abdomen.


Cats with enlarged livers are oftentimes very lethargic and lacking in energy. It's not unusual to see your pet begin to be unresponsive. You may notice that he takes a much longer time to get to his food or his water, or that he simply won't respond to your calls in the same way as he normally would. When he does move, it might be slower and more deliberate, and his gait may have changed due to discomfort at the enlarging of his liver. Watch especially for when he attempts to move up or down stairs, as this can be a great sign of potential discomfort and pain.

For more information about the potential causes and treatments of enlarged liver in your cat, be sure to speak with your vet with any other questions that you may have. Prompt treatment is key to protecting your cat's health.