PetMD Seal

Liver Inflammation in Cats



Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat, taking into account the background history of health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents or illnesses that might have led to this condition. Some of the factors that place a cat at risk for developing CCHS are inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, or obstruction of the bile ducts outside of the liver.


A chemical blood profile, complete blood count and urinalysis will be taken. These may reflect anemia, high liver enzymes, bilirubinuria (bilirubin in the urine), and/or lymphocytosis. They might also reflect cancer if it is causing the swelling of the liver and/or gallbladder. Often, sludged bile is found, which may be the cause of blocked bile ducts.


If your veterinarian suspects swelling of the pancreas, a TLI blood test (trypsin-like immunoreactivity – a pancreatic digestive enzyme) can be taken to test for pancreatic sufficiency. Vitamin B12 levels will be tested; low values indicate absorption problems in the small intestine, or pancreatic problems. Coagulation tests will also be performed to verify whether the blood is clotting normally. And thyroxine, a thyroid gland, may be tested to rule out a thyroid tumor. 


If your cat is a Himalayan or Persian your veterinarian may perform genotyping to check for hereditary kidney disease.


Chest X-rays, abdominal X-rays and an abdominal ultrasound can be used to check for cancer and to visualize the liver, pancreas and kidneys. For a closer visual exam, a laparotomy may also be performed. This method uses a diagnostic tool called a laparoscope, a small, flexible instrument that is passed into the body through a small incision. The laparoscope is equipped with a small camera and biopsy forceps, so that you doctor can visually inspect the walls and ducts of the liver and pancreas, and take a sample for biopsy. For further laboratory analysis, abdominal fluid and cell samples may sometimes be taken.




If your cat has suppurative CCHS, antibiotics will be given. For nonsuppurative CCHS, immune-modulating drugs and antibiotics may be given. If your pet has lymphoma (cancer of the lymphocyte white blood cells), chemotherapy may be considered. Antioxidants may be prescribed along with other drugs to protect the liver. Vitamin B and E supplements are recommended, as well as vitamin K, which may be used if blood clotting times are not normal.


In some cases, surgery may be indicated, such as when an obstruction in the bile ducts is preventing bile from flowing normally. For milder cases, your cat may be treated on an outpatient basis, but if dehydration or malnutrition is found to be affecting your cat, or if your cat is unable to eat or drink, it will need to be placed on a feeding tube and intravenous line until its condition stabilizes.


Treatment will take about three to four months, with liver enzymes checked every two weeks. If the treatment does not appear to be working after four weeks, your veterinarian will need to repeat a bile culture and take a biopsy of liver tissue and fluid for analysis.


Living and Management


You will need to return for regular check-ups with your veterinarian, especially if signs suddenly occur again or if signs worsen.


For nonsuppurative CCHS, lifelong immunomodulatory, antioxidan,t and hepatoprotective therapy is often recommended. You should restrict your cat's activity during the recovery period, and your veterinarian will help you to create an easily digestible, high protein meal plan for the cat. Your veterinarian may also suggest that you supplement your cat's diet with water-soluble vitamins. 


If your cat has inflammatory bowel disease as well, it may need to be fed a more specialized diet. If your cat is found to have a massive lack of liver ducts (severe ductopenia), problems with small intestinal absorption, or a long-term or cyclical swelling of the pancreas, a special low-fat diet may be tailored to fit your cat's needs.



Related Articles

Liver Failure (Acute) in Cats

Acute liver failure is a condition characterized by the sudden loss of 70 percent or more of the liver's function. Learn more about the causes,...

Inflammation of the Pancreas in Cats

Inflammation of the pancreas (or pancreatitis) often progresses rapidly in cats, but can often be treated without any permanent damage to the...

Cirrhosis and Fibrosis of the Liver in Cats

Put simply, cirrhosis of the liver is the generalized (diffuse) formation of scar tissue. It is associated with regenerative nodules, or masses,...

Kidney Disease Caused by Multiple Cysts in Cats

When large portions of a cat's renal parenchyma are displaced by multiple cysts, the medical condition is referred to as polycystic kidney disease....