Hepatitis is a liver disorder that can lead to some very serious symptoms and health complications for your feline friend. Today, our Burlington and Bellingham vets outline the two types of hepatitis seen in cats, their symptoms, and how this serious condition can be treated.
The Function of Your Cat's Liver
Your kitty's liver plays a fundamental role in the 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 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.
Two types of hepatitis commonly seen in cats are Cholangiohepatitis and Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis, and each has its list of symptoms associated with it.
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.
This form of hepatitis 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.
Common Signs of Cholangiohepatitis in Cats
- High fever
- Jaundice (yellowing in the eye)
- Loss of appetite
Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis
The cause of Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis in cats is still something of a mystery, although it is largely believed that this inflammatory liver disease might be related to thyroid disease or immune system dysfunction. Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis is more often seen in older cats who have a history of hyperthyroidism.
Common Signs of Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis in Cats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Enlarged liver
- Decreased appetite
Diagnosing Cats With Hepatitis
When you visit the vet they will request a full medical history for your cat and ask a series of questions regarding your kitty's health before symptoms become evident.
After performing 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 several 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 to empty the colon.
To reduce the burden on your cat's liver, switching your kitty to prescription food and feeding them 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 a lack of appetite may require an intravenous feeding tube to ensure they do not continue to lose muscle.
Managing Your Cat's Hepatitis Symptoms
Depending on the underlying cause of your cat's hepatitis your veterinarian 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. 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.