liver failure in cats

Our Beloved Rex

This grey tabby was found on 11/14/2014 on the streets of Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, NY, transferred to Staten Island Care Center and eventually ended up at Mary’s Kitty Corner to be cared for until he was adopted. He was a bit obese and missing one of his incisors. He also had gingivitis. He was treated for all ailments and given a clean bill of health.

On December 9th, 2014 my husband and I went to Mary’s Kitty Korner in Granby, Connecticut to pick out a cat. We walked in and there were cats everywhere. So many to chose from! There was a certain, quiet grey tabby in a crate with the door open. All of the other cats were out and about, sitting on the window sills in the sunshine or begging for attention. We walked over to the cat in the crate and he came out to let us pet him. He was very friendly and liked us so we decided to adopt him. We named him Rex.

He’s been a very healthy and friendly cat who loves to eat and sit in the sunshine high atop of his cat tower. He spends most of his days upstairs in the spare bedroom which he considered “HIS” room. He would run and pounce on his toys. From downstairs it sounded like an elephant was up there (LOL) Our Rex was happy to be alone but also loved attention.

Fast forward to March 2022. About 4 weeks ago, I noticed Rex hadn’t eaten the food I put out for him. I thought that was very strange as he LOVED to eat! He always meow’s for food every morning. I tried to feed him a different flavor of cat food but he wouldn’t eat that either. This went on for 2 days. I called my vet and they said to bring him in.

The vet did blood work, a urine sample, fecal sample and an exam to find Rex to had liver disease. The only symptom he had at the time was lack of appetite. How could that be he went from being okay to liver disease. How did I not notice? My vet said cats hide their sickness very well.

They started him on IV fluids, an antibiotic and some anti nausea medicine to see if he would eat some food. Rex spent a full week in the hospital with slight improvement. He was in good spirits but still wouldn’t eat any food. The vet was “force feeding” him which he didn’t like but tolerated.

On the 2nd week, we hired a vet tech to care for him at her home to see if she could get Rex to eat on his own but that was not successful. He was still being force fed but was in very good spirits and following the other 2 cats in the household around.

Week 3, we took him home to rest in his familiar surroundings. He seemed very happy to be home with all his blankets and bed. Again, he was purring and just acting tired. Another week went by and I still had to force feed him. His ears were getting yellow and so was his skin. I cuddled up next to him and talked to him. I explained he was sick and he would have to go back to the vet. He laid very still and quiet and let out a little meow. I stayed with him most of the day and turned the heat up to 72 so he was warm. I ended up falling asleep and when I woke up I put my head to his chest and there was no heart beat. Rex had passed away. Our boy is at peace.

Here are two main types of common liver disease in cats that can lead to liver dysfunction and liver failure. These are classified as primary and secondary:

Primary liver disease

  1. Congenital abnormalities (which animals are born with)
  2. Bacterial infection (e.g. suppurative cholangitis or cholangiohepatitis)
  3. Immune-system-related liver disease, in particular lymphocytic cholangitis, which is often linked to two other related inflammatory conditions, pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), resulting in a condition commonly referred to as “triaditis”.
  4. FIP Feline Infectious Peritonitis
  5. Toxic damage to the liver: a number of toxins may cause liver damage
  6. Hepatic lipidosis, known as fatty liver disease (linked to obesity, when the liver becomes infiltrated with abnormal fatty tissue in obese cats)
  7. Tumors, both benign and malignant, including lymphoma

B. Secondary liver disease can occur with a number of conditionsThe liver can commonly be adversely affected by other diseases, such as:

  1. Pancreatitis
  2. Diabetes Mellitus
  3. Hyperthyroidism
  4. Other conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease etc.

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