Signs & Symptoms of Liver Disease in Cats

Signs & Symptoms of Liver Disease in Cats

If you have already read about different types of liver diseases in cats and are concerned that your cat is suffering from one of them, this article will help you in your discernment.

Below are some of the signs and symptoms one would find associated with liver disease in cats. The seriousness and stages of these symptoms will vary from animal to animal, and they are only meant to help you make an initial discovery before consulting your veterinarian.

Signs and Symptoms of Feline Liver Disease

Listed below are a few signs and symptoms of liver disease in cats. There are other, more common symptoms such as diarrhea, dehydration, nausea, muscle atrophy, and lethargy that are not solely indicative of liver disease and may point toward a multiplicity of medical issues.

Loss of Appetite

Appetite loss in cats can result from an added stressor in the home environment (i.e. a new animal is brought home; a [human] baby is born; houseguests), from a sudden change in diet, or from other underlying conditions. Monitoring your cat’s diet is important when assessing their liver health. Note that cats do not like sudden changes in their environment or in their diet, so if you are deciding to start giving them new food, wean it in slowly over the period of a few weeks.


This is a yellowish substance found in the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. It is caused by an excess buildup of bilirubin in the blood, which is a component of the breakdown of red blood cells and carries an orange-yellow hue. Jaundice is one of the more obvious signs of liver problems and can be indicative of excessive fat buildup in the liver, otherwise known as fatty liver disease.


Vomiting in cats can be a symptom that he is suffering from issues in the biliary system. The biliary system is what carries bile – the greenish-brown fluid which aids in the digestion of food – to different organs in the stomach. Commonly, the bile backfills and becomes stuck in the liver, causing irritation, pain, and sometimes vomiting.

Signs & Symptoms of Liver Disease in Cats


Dark and tarry black stools, called melena, are a serious symptom of liver problems and/or failure at its worst. Fecal matter can sometimes also have partially digested blood that results from internal bleeding because the liver has lost its ability to properly form healthy clots as per usual.

Abdominal Discomfort or Difficulty Breathing

These are symptoms that your cat is suffering from abdominal effusion, which is the buildup of fluid in the stomach. The fluid can cause pressure to build and eventually make it hard for your cat to breathe.

Treatments for Liver Disease in Cats

Medicine is one of the many things that the liver works to break down. So, if the liver is not functioning properly, certain medication might need to be altered or reduced in order for it to be processed efficiently and effectively by the liver, for the liver.

Here are a few brief, common treatments for liver disease in cats.

Medical Prescriptions

  • Antibiotics: treat bacterial infections such as Cholangiohepatitis
  • Corticosteroids: help reduce scarring of tissue in the liver; manages inflammation in cats
  • Diuretics: diminish swelling in the stomach/abdomens
  • IV or SQ fluids administered by vet/doctor to help dehydration

Over the Counter/At Home

  • Vitamins
    • K: helps control bleeding in the body
    • B12: allows other vitamins to be digested in the liver
    • E: antioxidant; defends liver against other damage
  • Supplements
    • SAMe: modified amino acid is taken to help liver regenerate and fortify against disease and inflammation; helps flow of bile
    • Natural supplements
  • Natural Herbs
    • Milk Thistle: helps maintain liver health
    • Dandelion Root: supports liver and digestion
  • Diet Plan
    • Easily digestible diet will put the least amount of stress on the liver
    • Keep consistent food schedule/type and allow transition time to wean onto new food if need be

Signs & Symptoms of Liver Disease in Cats


In serious cases of liver disease, surgery might be necessary to remove/repair the infected area.

Keep a close eye on the aforementioned signs and symptoms of liver disease by checking your cat regularly, paying close attention to his habits, and by taking him routinely to the vet. Like all other medical issues, liver disease is serious, and even the smallest symptoms should not be overlooked.


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