What is fatty liver disease in cats

Liver disease in cats - causes, symptoms, and treatment

Liver disease in cats can have a number of causes. Since the liver is responsible for ridding the organism of toxins and ensuring that all nutrients contained in the food can be used properly. Liver disease is extremely critical and needs to be treated quickly. Find out what liver diseases there are, how liver disease can develop in cats, how to tell if your cat has liver problems, and what you can do to help your cat with liver disease, in this article

Function of the liver in cats

The liver is the largest internal organ in cats. It produces bile, which in turn is needed to break down the fats ingested with food so that they can pass through the intestinal wall and enter the organism via the bloodstream. In this way, cats can also process the essential fat-soluble vitamins. The liver also produces the enzymes needed for digestion.

In order to be able to process the ingested feed correctly, you have to all of the nutrients contained in food are carried to the liver via the bloodstreamwhere they are processed in such a way that they can be processed by the various body cells. In this way, the liver "sends" carbohydrates, proteins, copper, iron, fats, hormones and vitamins to where the body needs them.

The liver also produces blood clotting factors that are urgently needed to protect the cat from excessive blood loss as a result of a wound.
In addition, the liver has an indirect influence on the cat's body temperature, the fluid balance, the immune system and the circulation by producing appropriate hormones and messenger substances that regulate the respective processes. A Another job of the liver is the storage of sugar and the regulation of the blood sugar level.

The most important function, however, is the detoxification of the blood. The liver not only filters waste products from the bloodstream that arise during metabolism, but also ensures that absorbed toxins are excreted again. These include drug residues, preservatives and unhealthy components of cat food

Causes and forms of liver disease in cats

Fatty liver, a common problem in cats

Probably the most common form of Liver disease in cats is the so-called Fatty liver. In specialist circles, this is also referred to as hepatic lipidosis. This is essentially a disorder of the fat metabolism.

The causes of this form of the disease are varied. In most cases, however, it is Obesity or diabetes is the cause of fatty liver disease in cats.
However, an overactive thyroid can also lead to obesity in the liver, as the number of liver enzymes increases to an unhealthy extent as a result of the disease.
But even longer periods of hunger can lead to fatty liver under certain circumstances. If a cat does not get enough to eat for a long time, the fat metabolism can quickly get mixed up. This is because in such phases the cat's fat deposits are attacked in order to be able to guarantee the continued supply of energy. The broken down fat is then sent to the liver for further processing, but cannot be converted there due to a lack of enzymes. If too much fat is broken down in too short a period of time, the metabolism can no longer keep up, so that the liver cells absorb the excess fat and destroy it.

Over time, the liver becomes fat in this way and can no longer function properly. In the worst case, an untreated fatty liver can fail completely and drastically shorten a cat's life.

Symptoms of whether your cat has fatty liver:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Listlessness
  • Yellowish eyes and mucous membranes
  • Weight loss

This is how you can prevent your cat from developing fatty liver

So that your cat's liver does not become greasy, your main focus should be on your pet's diet. Make sure that your cat is fed regularly. However, you should not overfeed your cat to avoid the formation of love handles. On the one hand, you prevent your cat from becoming overweight and, on the other hand, you prevent the organism from attacking any fat reserves that may be present and thus harming itself.

Cats that are already too fat should never be rashly put on a radical diet. If your cat is overweight, contact an animal nutrition expert or your veterinarian to develop a strategy for a sustainable and healthy diet for your house tiger.
If you have the feeling that your cat is still gaining weight, it is advisable to think about a change in diet. Some cats have a tendency to become overweight and need special foods to keep them from gaining too much weight. Getting enough exercise is also a crucial factor when it comes to your house tiger's body weight.

In the case of fatty liver, go to the vet immediately

If you have reasonable suspicions that your cat may have fatty liver, you must act as soon as possible. In the worst case, cats that refuse to eat have to be force-fed with a nasogastric tube in order to restore the normal function of the liver and to avert impending liver insufficiency.

Infections and inflammatory liver disease in cats

Fatty liver is not the only risk to your cat's health. Infectious or inflammatory liver diseases can also harm your four-legged friend. Bacteria, for example, which can get into the liver via the bile duct, are possible causes of an infection in the liver. FIP or leukosis viruses can also cause serious damage to your cat's liver.

If the liver becomes inflamed as a result of the infection, it can quickly develop into a chronic condition without timely treatment. In particularly extreme cases, cirrhosis of the liver can develop. The liver can also become inflamed as part of inflammation of the pancreas or gallbladder.

Other causes of liver disease in cats

Tumors or cancer can also lead to liver disease. The same applies to ingested toxins or an unhealthy diet.

Liver failure in cats - what is it?

In the case of hepatic insufficiency, the liver is no longer able to perform its task of filtering toxins from the blood and utilizing nutrients. There is acute liver failure potentially life threatening and must be dealt with as soon as possible.

How does liver failure occur in cats?

Liver insufficiency is usually a side effect of other diseases that can occur in cats. For example, cats with diabetes have an increased risk of developing liver failure over time. But even in overweight four-legged friends, the liver cells can become fatty.
In addition, bacterial infections or inflammation of the liver can result in massive liver damage and even liver failure.

Symptoms of liver failure

Some symptoms associated with liver failure are not necessarily associated with liver failure. Others, on the other hand, are extremely clear and can also be clearly recognized by laypeople.

The following symptoms suggest liver failure in cats:

  • lack of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • increased fluid requirements
  • Apathetic behavior
  • increased salivation
  • Jaundice
  • aggressiveness
  • anxiety
  • Lack of orientation

Liver disease in cats - diagnostics

To be able to determine if your cat actually has liver disease, most veterinarians will first and foremost become one blood sample take from your cat. If this contains a particularly high number of the enzyme ALT - which occurs exclusively in the liver - this indicates that the cell membrane of the liver is already permeable and the first liver cells are dying off.

Also an unnatural one lower levels of urea, albumin and cholesterol indicates liver disease as these substances are made by the liver. If the suspicion of liver disease is confirmed, a Ultrasound examination determine whether the liver is abnormally enlarged or reduced and whether the organ is sufficiently supplied with blood.

Alternatively, the liver can also be opened using a biopsy check for any illnesses. A small piece of the liver will be removed from your cat under anesthesia so that it can be examined more closely. The above information is not suitable for self-diagnosis. If your animal shows signs of illness, we strongly recommend that you consult a veterinarian.


Image sources

Vet examining a cat © Depositphotos.com/Amaviael

Categories health