Hepatitis in Cats: What it Is & Causes
As the largest and most important organ in your cat’s body, the liver has an essential role to play in your cat’s body as it converts food into nutrients. It also synthesizes proteins and enzymes, produces bile and hand detoxifies and filters impurities, poisons and drugs from the blood.
Hepatitis is a liver disorder caused by a viral or bacterial infection, metabolic conditions or parasitic diseases. It can result in your cat’s liver becoming inflamed and its function being impaired.
There are two common types of hepatitis in cats: Cholangiohepatitis and Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis.
Types of Hepatitis in Cats
With the common disorder cholangiohepatitis, your cat’s bile ducts and liver are inflamed, potentially due to a fungal or bacterial infection. Cats with this issues may also experience digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis.
The chronic version of the disease may be caused by an immune-mediated infection or disease such as liver flukes, toxoplasmosis, feline leukeumia or feline infectious peritonitis. The liver retains bile as the flow of bile is restricted to do inflammation and swelling. Caustic bile fluids can damage the liver and biliary ducts.
Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis
This inflammatory liver disease may be related to function of the immune symptoms. It is more often seen in older cats that may also have hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of Hepatitis in Cats
The following are symptoms of cholangiohepatitis and Lympthocytic Portal Hepatitis in cats:
- High fever
- Jaundice (yellowing in the eye)
- Poor appetite
Lymphoctic Portal Hepatitis
- Weight loss
- Enlarged liver
- Poor appetite
Diagnosis of Hepatitis in Cats
The more thorough history of your cat’s health that you can provide your vet, the better. Recall what lead up to the onset of symptoms. Your vet will complete a physical examination and take a complete blood count, blood chemical profile, a urinalysis and electrolyte panel. Your veterinarian can then look into whether the kidneys are impaired.
Ultrasound imaging and x-rays will also be used to examine the liver, and a sample of tissue potentially taken for biopsy.
At Providence Animal Hospital, our veterinarians take a comprehensive approach to internal medicine. We use advanced diagnostic, testing and imaging tools to accurately and efficiently diagnose conditions and illnesses in pets, then plan effective treatments.
Treatment of Hepatitis in Cats
Treatment for your cat’s hepatitis will depend on how ill he or she is - hospitalization and fluid therapy may be necessary, along with supplements in the form of dextrose, vitamin B and potassium.
While in treatment and recovery, your cat’s activity will be restricted. Ask your vet whether cage rest is an option, and prioritize keeping your cat warm.
Fluid buildup in the abdomen can be alleviated by medications, which may also be prescribed to treat infection in the abdomen, decrease brain swelling , decrease ammonia production and absorption, and control other serious symptoms such as seizures.
The colon may need to be emptied with an enema. Your cat will then be switched to a diet of several small meals a day. This diet will also be light on sodium and supplemented with vitamins and thiamine.
If your cat is experiencing a loss of appetite, talk to your vet about using an intravenous feeding tube to ensure they do not lose any more muscle.
How can hepatitis in cats be managed?
Depending on the underlying cause of hepatitis in your cat, your veterinarian will schedule followup appointments for treatment and monitoring.
Do your best to keep your cat comfortable and reduce any discomfort or pain they may be experiencing. Keep a close eye on symptoms and contact your vet immediately if your cat loses weight, their symptoms worsen or their bodily functions start to deteriorate.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.