Liver failure in cats: causes, symptoms and treatment

Liver failure in cats: causes, symptoms and treatment

Liver failure in cats

Just like with all mammals, the liver is essential for the proper functioning of your cat’s body. It is your cat’s largest internal organ and it is important for the functions of detoxification and metabolism. Liver failure in cats can be caused by several factors.

In its acute form, a hepatic failure happens when 70% of the liver loses its normal function. This state is usually caused by a necrosis in a good portion of the liver.

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Causes of liver failure in cats

The most common agents causing liver failure are toxins or infectious agents. It could also be caused by a scarce flow of fluids to the surrounding tissues. These are some other possible causes of liver failure in cats.

  • Hypoxia (inability to breathe)
  • Chemicals destructive to the liver
  • Excess heat exposure
  • Metabolic disorders in protein synthesis (this causes acute liver failure)
  • Abnormalities in the metabolic detoxification process

Symptoms of liver failure in cats

The most obvious sign you should probably look for is the loss of appetite and anorexia. Some other common signs of liver failure are:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Vomiting in cats
  • Diarrhea in cats
  • Tarry stool
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Depression
  • Juandice (yellowing of the eyes, mucuos membranes, and inner ears)

The above are only some general symptoms. Since the liver is an organ involved in so many bodily functions, when this one gets affected, it affects other organs as well. The acute form of liver failure can affect other systems:

  • Nervous system – brain disease
  • Renal – Tubules of the kidney get injured due to toxins
  • Gastrointestinal – causes vomiting, diarrhea, and blood in the stools
  • Hemic – clotting due to imbalances in the circulatory and lymphatic systems


Your veterinarian will run a series of tests to determin if your cat actually has liver disease. To help with the effects, he might prescribe fluid therapy or a feeding tube. This tube deliver essential nutrients straight to the stomach or intestines.

He will also prescribe medications that include antibiotics, hepatoprotectants, antioxidants, and diuretics among others.

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