Hepatitis is a liver disorder that can result in serious symptoms and health complications for your cat. Today, our Charlotte vets and team explain the types of hepatitis seen in cats, causes, symptoms, and treatments.
The Function of Your Cat's Liver
Your cat's liver plays a fundamental role in their body's ability to convert food into nutrients. Your cat's liver also works hard 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.
Causes & Types of Hepatitis in Cats
Hepatitis is a liver disorder seen in cats that may be caused by parasitic diseases, viral and bacterial infections, or metabolic conditions (such as hyperthyroidism). If your feline friend 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 its 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 Associated With Cholangiohepatitis (Cholangitis) in Cats
Cats suffering from Cholangiohepatitis (also called Cholangitis) may show one or more of the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Jaundice (yellowing in the eye)
- Loss of appetite
Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis
The cause of Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis in cats is still largely unknown although 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 Associated with Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis in Cats
If your cat is suffering from Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis they may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Enlarged liver
- Decreased appetite
Diagnosing Hepatitis in Cat's Liver
Your vet will take a full medical history for your cat, asking a series of questions regarding your cat's health prior to the appearance of symptoms.
Following a thorough examination, if your vet suspects that your cat may be suffering from hepatitis, they could 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.
X-rays and/or ultrasound imaging may also be recommended to allow the vet to examine the liver, and a liver biopsy may be performed to provide a definitive diagnosis.
Hepatitis in Cats - Treatment
The treatment prescribed for your cat’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.
During your cat's recovery, you will need to make an extra effort to keep your kitty warm and comfortable and restrict their activity level.
Fluid buildup in your kitty'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 reduce the burden on your cat's liver, switching your kitty to a prescription food and feeding several small meals a day may be recommended. This therapeutic diet will be low sodium and supplemented with thiamine and other vitamins.
Cats that are rapidly losing weight due to lack of appetite may require an intravenous feeding tube to ensure they do not continue to lose muscle.
Managing Your Cat's Hepatitis Symptoms
The underlying cause of your cat's hepatitis will determine the treatment that your veterinarian recommends, however follow-up appointments for ongoing treatments, checkups, and the ongoing monitoring of symptoms will be essential.
You will need to monitor your cat's health at home, keeping a close eye on your kitty's symptoms. It is essential to 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.