Protein Deposits in the Body in Cats

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Jun. 5, 2009

Amyloidosis in Cats

Amyloidosis is a condition in which a waxy translucent substance – consisting primarily of protein – deposits in a cat’s organs and tissues. Prolonged excess of this condition may lead to organ failure. The kidney and liver are the most commonly affected, but amyloid deposition can also take place in other organs as well. No genetic involvement has been found, but familial liver amyloidosis is seen in Siamese and Oriental shorthair cat breeds. Though generally rare in cats, amyloidosis is seen more in some breeds of cat, such as the Abyssinian, Oriental shorthair, and Siamese. In Abyssinian cats, females are at a slightly higher risk than male cats. The disease is usually diagnosed in cats older than seven years.


As amyloid can deposit into various organs, the symptoms may vary, depending upon which organ is being affected. Symptoms also vary with the amount of amyloid that is deposited, and the reaction of the organ to the amyloid deposition. In cats, amyloid deposition both in the kidney and the liver has been reported. Following are some of the symptoms seen in cats affected with amyloidosis:

  • Poor appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (uncommon)
  • Ascites (Abnormal accumulation of fluid in abdomen)
  • Edema at various body sites, especially in limbs
  • Fever
  • Joint swelling
  • Dehydration
  • Jaundice (in cases of liver involvement)


  • Chronic infections
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Parasitic infections
  • Immune-mediated diseases
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Neoplasia (i.e., tumor)
  • Familial (e.g., in Abyssinian, Siamese and Oriental shorthair cats)


You will need to give a thorough history of your cat's health, including a background history and onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will conduct a detailed physical examination, including a blood profile, chemical blood profile, complete blood count, and a urinalysis. These tests may provide information about organ function and give important information about complications that are occurring due to this disease. Urine tests are important if kidneys are being affected by amyloid deposition. Your veterinarian will also take X-ray images and use ultrasound to determine the structural features of the kidneys and where any abnormalities lay. In most cases a diagnosis is confirmed by examining tissue that has been collected during a kidney biopsy.


If your cat has a chronic problem and is experiencing kidney failure, your veterinarian will advise admission to the hospital to resolve the dehydration and stabilize the cat. If some underlying cause is diagnosed as responsible for the amyloid deposition, it will be treated accordingly. Patients in kidney failure required extensive medical treatment and management for a long period of time. Your veterinarian will devise a treatment plan for your cat and will prescribe medications according to the severity of the disease and the presence of other diseases or complications.

Living and Management

This disease is progressive in nature and treatment may be required for a long period of time. Most animals will return to normal activity but may need to be kept on a specific food diet that has been recommended by your veterinarian. Do not give any medications to your cat on your own because most drugs need normal kidney functions in order to be excreted from body. And because it is suspected of having a familial predisposition, do not breed the affected animals because it will pass the trait on to further generations.

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