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Copper storage hepatopathy is a condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of copper in the liver, which can lead to hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver over the long term. This condition is believed to be secondary to a primary disease, usually the result of a genetically-based abnormal copper metabolism.
This disease has been found in cats, but these cases are considered rare and isolated.
Primary copper liver diseases (medically referred to as hepatopathies) generally fall into one of three categories:
Conversely, secondary copper hepatopathies show symptoms of progressive signs of liver disease due to chronic hepatitis or progressive cirrhosis. Liver disease in which the flow of bile is slowed or stopped is known as cholestatic liver disease; the abnormal flow of bile results in secondary copper retention.
Both types may display symptoms in their acute or chronic forms; these forms are as follows:
The cause of copper storage hepatopathy in cats remains largely unknown. However, it is suspected that those cats that are affected do not metabolize or excrete copper properly.
A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. You will need to give a thorough history of your pet's health, including a history of its symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to whether the condition is of primary or secondary origin.
A tissue sample will then be taken from your cat's liver for laboratory analysis, and ultrasound images will be taken of the abdominal area to examine the condition of the liver.
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