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Liver disease in cats: diagnosis by the veterinarian


The diagnosis of liver disease in cats can only be made by the veterinarian. Because of the abundance of possible forms and causes and the inaccuracy of the symptoms, the clinical picture is often hardly recognizable for laypersons. The veterinarian can identify liver diseases using various means - Shutterstock / Mr. Nikon

If you have the impression that something is wrong with your darling, you should immediately consult a veterinarian. Certain behavioral disorders in cats can be caused by liver diseases that are not always clearly noticeable. The faster the veterinarian makes the correct diagnosis, the sooner he can help the sick kitty.

Liver diseases are difficult to identify

Loss of appetite or rapid weight loss are possible symptoms that may indicate liver disease. However, other symptoms are also possible with such signs. No matter what is ultimately behind it: If your velvet paw suddenly stops eating, has great thirst or indigestion, this is a case for the veterinarian. You should also seek medical advice if the kitty looks remarkably tired, listless, or aggressive. The veterinarian then has several options to find out what's missing from your fur nose and whether one of the many liver diseases is really the trigger.

Blood test: first indications

If the cat makes a sick impression, the veterinarian can get a first glimpse of the cause behind a blood test. Certain enzymes play a role in the diagnosis of possible liver diseases. If these enzymes are present in an increased concentration in the blood plasma, this means that the cell membrane of the liver may gradually become permeable. This in turn shows that the liver cells are about to die or have been damaged. The enzyme ALT (GPT) is particularly important in the diagnosis of liver diseases in cats, since the other enzymes also occur outside the liver and therefore cannot provide any clear indications.

An initial suspicion of deteriorating liver performance can be further checked by tests for liver dysfunction. The liver produces certain substances such as urea, cholesterol and albumin - if the concentration of these substances is low, liver diseases can be the cause.

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Ultrasound, X-rays and Co. for diagnosis

However, the veterinarian can only make the most reliable diagnosis possible by carrying out further tests. An ultrasound examination can be used to determine whether the internal structure of the liver is in order and whether it is properly supplied with blood. You can also have your room tiger X-rayed, so that you can see a greatly enlarged or a smaller liver. The latter can indicate a shunt or cirrhosis of the liver. An enlarged liver is caused by a tumor, fatty liver (hepatic lipidosis) or cholangiohepatitis.

In addition, the veterinarian can use a fine needle to take a small sample of tissue from the liver to examine it for possible diseases. Your kitty does not need to be anesthetized for this, as the needle only pricks a little, but otherwise does not cause pain. For a biopsy, however, the cat is put under anesthesia. In this way, a larger piece of the liver can be removed and a more precise diagnosis can be made.