Causes of Hepatitis in Cats
Your cat's liver is the largest and most important organ in their body. The liver plays a fundamental role in the ability of your cat’s body to convert food into nutrients. Your cat's liver also works to filter impurities, poisons and drugs from the blood, synthesize proteins and enzymes, and produce bile which is necessary to carry waste products out of the liver.
Hepatitis in cats is a liver disorder that may be caused by parasitic diseases, viral and bacterial infections, or metabolic conditions (such as hyperthyroidism). When your kitty develops hepatitis their liver becomes inflamed and its function becomes impaired.
There are two common types of hepatitis in cats, Cholangiohepatitis and Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis, and each has it's own list of symptoms associated with the disease.
Cholangiohepatitis in cats is characterized by the bile ducts and liver becoming inflamed, potentially due to a fungal or bacterial infection. In some cases, cats with this condition also experience digestive disorders such as pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disease.
Chronic Cholangiohepatitis is characterized by the restricted flow of bile due to inflammation and swelling, possibly leading to caustic bile fluids damaging the liver and biliary ducts. This form of hepatitis may be caused by an immune-mediated infection or diseases such as liver flukes, toxoplasmosis, feline leukemia or feline infectious peritonitis.
Symptoms of Cholangiohepatitis in Cats
- High fever
- Jaundice (yellowing in the eye)
- Poor appetite
Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis
Although the cause of Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis is still largely unknown it is believed that this inflammatory liver disease may be related to thyroid disease or immune system dysfunction. This form of hepatitis is more often seen in older cats with a history of hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis in Cats
- Weight loss
- Enlarged liver
- Poor appetite
Diagnosis of Hepatitis in Cats
When diagnosing hepatitis, your vet will request a full medical history of your kitty and ask a series of questions regarding your cat's health prior to symptoms becoming evident. The more thorough history of your cat’s health that you can provide your vet, the better. Following a thorough examination, if hepatitis is suspected, your vet may recommend diagnostic testing to confirm the diagnosis. Tests often used to diagnose hepatitis in cats include a CBC complete blood count, blood chemical profile, urinalysis and electrolyte panel.
Ultrasound imaging and x-rays may also be recommended to allow the vet to examine the liver, and a liver biopsy may be performed to provide a definitive diagnosis.
At Sharon Lakes Animal Hospital, our team of 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.
Hepatitis in Cats Treatment
The treatment prescribed for your kitty’s hepatitis will depend on how severe their condition is. For some cats with hepatitis hospitalization and fluid therapy will be required, along with a number of supplements including dextrose, vitamin B and potassium.
While your cat is recovering from hepatitis you will need to make an extra effort to keep them warm and comfortable, and their activity will need to be restricted.
Fluid buildup in your cat's abdomen may be treated with medications, which can also be prescribed to treat an abdominal infection, decrease brain swelling, decrease ammonia production and absorption, and control other serious symptoms such as seizures. In some cases, an enema will be performed in order to empty the colon.
To help ease the burden on your cat's liver, switching your kitty to a diet of several small meals a day may be recommended. This therapeutic diet will also be low sodium and supplemented with thiamine and other vitamins.
Cats that have lost their appetite and are rapidly losing weight may require an intravenous feeding tube to ensure they do not continue to lose muscle.
Managing Hepatitis in Cats
Depending on the underlying cause of your cat's hepatitis your vet may recommend follow-up appointments for ongoing treatments, to check your cat's overall health, and to watch for worsening symptoms.
You will need to monitor your cat's health at home, keeping a close eye on your kitty's symptoms. Contact your vet immediately if your cat loses weight, their symptoms worsen or their bodily functions begin 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.
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