2 Obvious Signs of Liver Failure in a Cat
Signs Your Cat Could Have Liver Failure
Abigail looked sick. She sat hunched over on the stainless steel examination table. She would have blinked at the bright fluorescent light and sniffed the strange disinfectant on the edge of the table, but the 7-year-old short-haired tabby cat just did not care.
“Abby hasn’t wanted to touch anything but the juice on her food for a week,” said Abigail’s worried dad. “She’s never been sick a day in her life. I don’t understand how she could get sick so fast.” Veterinarians hear this every day, by the way.
Doc Truli asked,” Does Abigail vomit?”
“Yes, but she does that anyway about once a week.” That’s not normal.
“Do you see the yellow on her eyelid?” asked Doc Truli.
Abigail’s dad winced and said,”I really don’t like looking at eyeballs.” Lots of people feel the same way.
“Well I can see the normal white color of her eyelid has turned yellow,” said Doc Truli.
“Why is that?” said dad.
“Yellow in the membranes and tissues of the body is called jaundice (pronounced jawn-diss). There’s too much bilirubin (pronounced billy-roo-bin) pigment in the blood. Bilirubin is a waste product of metabolism. Either too much blood is being destroyed by the body and processed through the liver, the liver is not doing its job, or the bilirubin cannot get out of the liver because of a blocked or static bile flow (for instance, gall bladder disease). We need to run some tests to find out the cause of the jaundice.”
The very first place you can see jaundice in a cat is the back arches of the oral cavity (back of the mouth).
Ecchymosis (pronounced eck-ee-mo-sis) are red, flat spotches of blood just under the surface of the skin. Like a bruise, but not pooled blood, and like an abrasion, but not actually bleeding out of the skin. Imagine the tiny capillaries that carry one blood cell after another (not enough room for side-by-side) just leaking the red blood cells under the skin. You end up seeing the accumulation of these tiny bleeds.
If the blood pools in tiny one to five millimeter areas, this is petechia (pronounced peh-tee-key-ah). Bigger areas are ecchymosis.
These red areas are caused by the lack of clotting ability of the blood. In the case of liver failure, since the liver makes many of the clotting factors, if the liver is not working right, then the blood will not clot properly. (There are many other causes of ecchymosis- so see a local veterinarian you trust if you see this pattern on your pet’s skin.)
As soon as we shaved Abigail’s inner thigh in order to see her vein more clearly to obtain a blood sample, we saw the ecchymosis. Other areas we could easily see the ecchymosis were her belly and chest area where her fur was naturally thinner and white. In fact, Abby’s whole body was covered with ecchymosis under her fur. She was one sick kitty, indeed.
Tests revealed the source of Abigail’s jaundice and ecchymosis was liver failure. We identified a blood parasite as the cause *. After a week of intensive care and appropriate antibiotics, Abigail made a full recovery. She was one lucky kitty, indeed!
**There are many possible blood parasites and they vary from country to country, so it is irrelevant to publish here, seek local veterinary help regarding your cat’s situation.