Liver Failure in Cats (cont.)

Cholangiohepatitis

Cholangiohepatitis is the second most common liver disease of cats. This disease involves inflammation of the liver and the bile ducts. Bile is the product of the gallbladder and is important in managing fats and collecting toxins to be removed from the blood. When bacteria from the duodenum (small intestine) come up the bile duct (instead of bile going down), they can gain access to the gallbladder and the liver. This liver infection is often associated with inflammatory bowel disease and/or pancreatitis.

Some cats will become acutely ill, but many simply show anorexia and possibly jaundice and an enlarged liver. Some cats will have vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and weight loss.

Treatment: Treatment requires supportive care, including fluids and nutritional support-maybe even a feeding tube placed by your veterinarian. Antibiotics are important, as this is a bacterial infection. Antibiotics may be needed for three to six months. SAMe and vitamin E are useful antioxidants that can help the liver heal, and milk thistle is an herb with liver-protectant qualities. If inflammatory bowel disease is also involved, the cat may need immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisone.

This article is excerpted from “ Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.