😻 Meet Shadow 😻

This little sweetie came to see us today for a check over.

He has a portosystemic shunt (also known as a liver shunt), which means that blood bypasses his liver.

This can result in an increase in toxins within the blood stream.

However we are thrilled to report he is doing very well on his current medication and diet, and has gained weight beautifully.

He is looking fantastic and we are so pleased with his progress!
Yay for Shadow!

cat at Ashfield House vets

More Liver Disease Information

The liver is a vital organ, having a wide-ranging role in digestion, energy metabolism, elimination of waste and immune regulation. There is a direct blood supply from the gut to the liver.

Partly because of this, the liver is very vulnerable to injury as any toxins or poisons that are eaten will rapidly reach the liver.

The liver can also be affected by a variety of primary disorders, and disorders of other body systems such as the pancreas will sometimes cause secondary damage to the liver.

The liver has an enormous reserve capacity which means that, by the time the cat starts showing signs of liver failure, more than two thirds of it is usually affected. The liver also regenerates well, which means that recovery is often possible, even after severe liver disease.

Signs of liver disease

Signs of liver disease in cats are usually very vague and include

  • inappetance
  • lethargy
  • weight loss
  • fever
  • increase in water intake
  • vomiting
  • in the advanced stages jaundice may be noticed (yellow gums and skin)
  • with severe liver dysfunction abnormal behaviour and excess salivation may also occur
  • with some liver diseases fluid may build up within the abdomen which may give the cat a very pot-bellied appearance.

Liver diseases include

  • Hepatic lipidosis – This is a condition where fats infiltrate the liver causing widespread damage and dysfunction. It occurs when, for some reason a cat stops eating. This results in a change in the cats metabolism and release of fats from stored fatty tissue into the bloodstream. Obese cats are most at risk of developing this if they stop eating, and often there may be another ‘stress factor’ that initiates the disease, for example a concurrent disease, or a change in the cat’s environment.
  • Lymphocytic Cholangitis – This is where there is inflammation around the bile ducts within the liver. The cause of this is unknown, but may be due to an abnormality with the immune system. Diagnosis is made by taking a biopsy of the liver, and excluding bacterial infection.
  • Suppurative Cholangiohepatitis – This is a bacterial infection within the liver. It often occurs together with disease of the small intestine and sometimes also the pancreas. Diagnosis requires a biopsy to be taken and examined for evidence of inflammation, as well as cultured in a laboratory to identify the bacteria involved and which antibiotics it is sensitive to. Treatment with appropriate antibiotics is required.
  • Drugs or Toxins – Cats are very susceptible to liver damage caused by a wide range of common drugs that may be quite safe in other species. It is therefore essential that you always consult with a veterinary surgeon before giving your cat anything.
  • Amyloidosis – This is a disease where a specific protein (amyloid) is deposited within the liver, causing disruption of the liver, and also predispose the liver to rupture, which results in bleeding from the liver. It occurs most commonly occur in Siamese and Oriental breeds, but potentially could occur in any cat.
  • Tumours or cancer – Many different tumours may occur within the liver, and may be a primary liver tumour arising in from the liver, or may be secondary spread from a tumour elsewhere in the body. Unfortunately most liver tumours carry a poor prognosis.


The treatment of liver disease depends very much on its cause. This is why additional tests such as a liver biopsy are necessary to try and identify the cause of the disease. Intravenous fluid administration may be required in order to keep the cat hydrated.

If the cat is not eating, further nutritional support may be required by placing a special feeding tube.

Depending on the type of liver disease, a special diet may be required, which will be prescribed by your vet.


Brilliant staff! We had the very sad task of having one of our fur babies put to sleep last week.

The reception staff and the vet were very sympathetic.

Highly recommend using this practice.


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