Clotting Deficiency (Liver Related) in Cats

By PetMD Editorial on May 26, 2010

Coagulopathy of Liver Disease in Cats

The liver is vital for the synthesis of anticoagulant, coagulation, and fibrinolytic proteins. In fact, only five blood clotting factors are not produced there. Therefore, liver diseases that cause clotting issues in cats can be very serious and sometimes life-threatening.

Symptoms and Types

  • Black feces due to digested blood (melena)
  • Bright red blood in the feces (hematochezia)
  • Vomiting or spitting up blood (hematemesis)
  • Prolonged bleeding after drawing blood, urine, or from recent surgical wounds
  • Spontaneous bruising (rare)


The causes of coagulopathy of liver disease are abundant, including:

  • Severe liver failure
  • Acute viral liver disease
  • Cirrhosis (hardening and shrinking of the liver with loss of functional tissue)
  • Extrahepatic bile duct obstruction (EHBDO)
  • Vitamin K deficiency linked to severe intra- or extrahepatic cholestasis (blockage of the bile ducts) or steatorrhea (fat in the feces due to trouble digesting fat since enzymes the liver makes are lacking).
  • Portosystemic Vascular Anomaly (PSVA), causing insufficient blood flow to the liver


You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to the veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination as well a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, complete blood count (CBC), and electrolyte panel.

Hemostatic tests like prolonged activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT), activated clotting time (ACT), prothrombin time (PT), thrombin clotting time (TCT), and Proteins invoked by Vitamin K Absence (PIVKA) are useful for measuring the severity of the cat’s inability to clot normally. Tests can also be performed to detect low coagulation/anticoagulant factor (antithrombin (AT) and protein (C) activity. X-rays, meanwhile, are used to identify liver abnormalities, fluid in the abdomen, abnormal intestinal motility and thickening in affected areas.




In many cases, invasive procedures are unnecessary unless there is severe hemorrhaging. Fresh whole blood, fresh frozen plasma, cryoprecipitate or platelet-rich plasma are viable options to treat hemostatic disorders.

However, If the cat has fluid buildup in the abdomen, a sample should be taken to determine if it is due to a hemorrhage or ascites. This must be done with extreme care to avoid exacerbating the problem.

Living and Management

A vitamin-rich, well-balanced diet is vital for a quick recovery. Deworming your pet of parasites can also help prevent future intestinal bleeding.

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health