Liver Disease in Cats

The liver’s main functions are to filter blood from the GI tract before it goes into the rest of the bloodstream, produce bile to aid in fat digestion and to store glycogen as a source of energy. Because the liver plays a big role in fat metabolism, sudden weight loss can have a big impact on its function. If a cat stops eating because it is sick or if pet parents put their cats on too drastic of a diet, fat accumulates in the liver making the liver enlarged and greasy which inhibits liver function. This condition is called Hepatic Lipidosis and is unique to cats. If you notice a sudden decrease in appetite in your cat accompanied by drooling, you should take them to the veterinarian to make sure their liver is functioning properly. The vet can feel if the cat’s liver is enlarged and run bloodwork to make sure the liver is healthy. Fluid & nutritional support can often put the liver back into balance when treated early.


Cats can also experience liver disease for other reasons such as infection or as a side-effect of medications. Liver disease and liver failure can be recognized by decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and weight loss. Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) is a major tell-tale sign of liver problems, but is difficult to recognize on furry cats. Take a look at the area around your cat’s ears where the fur in thin to see their skin color. Bacterial infections can be treated by your vet with antibiotics and the liver can be supported with supplements like milk thistle extract and SAMe.




Peculiarities of one-carbon metabolism in the strict carnivorous cat and the role in feline hepatic lipidosis.


Dietary L-carnitine supplementation in obese cats alters carnitine metabolism and decreases ketosis during fasting and induced hepatic lipidosis.


Characterization of serum lipoprotein profiles of healthy, adult cats and idiopathic feline hepatic lipidosis patients.


Dietary management of idiopathic feline hepatic lipidosis with a liquid diet supplemented with citrulline and choline.


Long-term voluntary fasting in adult obese cats: nitrogen balance, plasma amino acid concentrations and urinary orotic acid excretion.


Hepatic progenitor cells in canine and feline medicine: potential for regenerative strategies.


A retrospective histopathological survey on canine and feline liver diseases at the university of Tokyo between 2006 and 2012.


Animal models of fulminant hepatic failure: a critical evaluation.