Wednesday, April 14, 2010 8:27 AM

Diagnosis and Treatment of Liver Disease

If you suspect your cat has liver disease, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more liver tissue will be destroyed and the less treatable your cat's condition will be. Your vet will order blood work for a liver function test, which should give you an accurate assessment of the situation.

If the test is positive for disease, time is of the essence. The only real treatment is dietary; the animal must immediately be put on a homemade diet. Dr. Strombeck notes that while commercial cat food does not directly cause hepatic disorders, it can certainly exacerbate the problem once it appears. These foods are full of chemicals and fillers, and, as we all now know, substances like melamine. Continuing on with such a diet will only speed the destruction of liver tissue.

As Strombeck states, there is not really any drug therapy available for this problem. The entire treatment consists of nutritional therapy. Homemade food saves the liver from having to continually screen out ingested toxins from the animal's blood. Since many cats become anorectic (lack of appetite) with this disease, it is imperative that the food that is eaten is nutritionally available.

If lack of appetite is a problem, adding chicken fat to the meal will often get an anorectic cat eating. Although it seems counter-intuitive to add fat to a diet for liver dysfunction, Strombeck writes that this does not seem to cause a problem for these animals. The real problem comes with fasting, whereby fat stores in the liver become metabolized for energy, thus releasing fatty acids into the bloodstream. The presence of these ketones in the blood is very dangerous to cats, which is why cats should never be allowed to fast for more than two days. Sardines are also used to get anorectic cats eating again, and are beneficial because of the high vitamin B12 content.

In addition to several small homemade meals each day, a cat with hepatic disease will also benefit from supplementation. Strombeck warns against too much vitamin A, which can be injurious to the liver. Elevated levels of copper, often present in commercial foods, is also problematic. Vitamins E, K and C are all very useful for cases of liver disease, and Strombeck notes that additional zinc is desirable not only because many animals with liver problems are deficient, but zinc competes with copper for absorption, reducing the latter's presence in the body.

Despite the fact that a low-protein diet would benefit an ailing liver, cats need high levels of protein in their diets. The best source to use is chicken, which is readily available and more easily digested. Supplement with taurine, as well as B vitamins which cats tend to deplete when they have suppressed appetites. Nutritional therapy represents the best method of preserving both the quality and the quantity of your ailing cat's life.
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April 14, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Hi, this is jenicoe2001 from eHow! Where do you think you will be writing for now? Luv your blog! Excellent article! I had 2 cats many years ago who were siblings die suddenly from congenital liver disease. Your article is very informative! I am following your blog now, you have great news! Keep it coming! Please be sure and follow mine also! Btw, it is about pets no matter what the name of the blog says! lol TTYS!!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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