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What Causes Liver Cancer In Cats

Symptoms Of Liver Disease In Cats

Cat Care & Health : What Causes Liver Problems in Cats?

Signs that suggest liver disease include a yellow tinge or color to the skin or the white part of the eyes. This yellow coloring is also known as jaundice or icterus. Cats may also develop swelling of the abdomen or stomach area called ascites. This happens when fluid builds up in the abdomen.

Cats with liver disease often have other signs not specific to the liver. These include changes in behavior such as hiding or sleeping more than usual, weakness, increased drinking and urination, bleeding, disoriented or drunken appearance, not eating, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and increased drooling/salivation.

Diagnosis Of Liver Tumor In Cats

The veterinarian will need to know the cat’s complete health history, which will include what symptoms are present and when the symptoms first began. The veterinarian will examine the cat, feeling for any enlarged lymph nodes or abdominal enlargement and listening to its breathing and heart. Because liver tumors are often asymptomatic until they grow and spread to other organ systems, the tumor may be found during a routine exam.

Several labs will be taken, which will include a complete blood count, biochemical profile, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. These labs don’t test for liver cancer but can show signs of liver damage or bile duct obstruction, which can lead to further testing. An abdominal ultrasound and chest x-ray will be performed to look for evidence of a tumor or metastasis to the lungs and to eliminate other conditions. To make a definitive diagnosis, the veterinarian will need to do a liver biopsy. This will be done via a needle that is inserted into the liver to remove a sample of tissue, or during surgery to remove a small portion of the liver tissue. These samples will then be tested for cancer cells.

Different Cancers Have Different Symptoms

Depending on the type of cancer a cat has, you might see vomiting, diarrhea, changes in appetite and weight loss. If you dont weigh your cat regularly at home on a small scale, it can be hard to tell when your cat is losing weight especially if your cat is very fluffy.

This is why its important to bring your cat to the vet at least on an annual basis so you can check her weight and compare it to her weight on previous visits. There are other things that can cause vomiting and changes in appetite, whether its kidney disease or thyroid disease, which is not uncommon in kitties, so its just a good trigger for you to bring your cat to the vet, Dr. Ettinger explains. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, seeking a diagnosis and pursing treatment before your cats body condition has significantly deteriorated might positively impact her outcome.

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Functions Of The Liver

  • Metabolizes fats, carbohydrates, and proteins

  • Metabolizes drugs

  • Stores and metabolizes vitamins

  • Stores minerals, glycogen, and triglycerides

  • Manufactures proteins needed for various body functions, such as blood clotting

  • Produces bile acids needed for digestion

  • Detoxifies harmful products manufactured within the body or consumed by the animal

Signs that a cat has liver disease can vary and include loss of appetite, vomiting, stomach ulceration, diarrhea, fever, blood clotting problems, jaundice, abdominal swelling, excessive urination and thirst, changes in liver size, weight loss, and occasionally gastrointestinal bleeding.

A variety of blood tests can help detect and diagnose liver disease. X-rays and ultrasonography can help your veterinarian determine liver size and find irregularities, gallstones, and diseases of the gallbladder. Aspiration or biopsy procedures can be used to obtain samples for bacterial culture, cell and tissue analysis, and, when appropriate, toxicologic analysis. Other, less common tests, such as nuclear scintigraphy, may be used in some cases to identify portosystemic shunts and other blood vessel abnormalities.

Symptoms Of Liver Cancer In Cats

Abdominal Tumors

What then are the Signs of Liver Cancer in Cats?You must know that the signs of Liver Cancer in Cats Symptoms vary depending on if the malignant tumor has metastasized from another primary cancer in the cats body. Visible symptoms of the disease include but are not limited to

  • Vomiting.
  • Stumbling among other signs that may be evident.

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Treatment Of Feline Liver Cancer

Although most tumors are surgically removed, tumors closely attachedto the liver may not be ideal for surgery. Chemotherapy is the mostcommonly used treatment option to treat the cancer. However, theprognosis of treatment varies according to severity of cancer presentand accompanying health concerns. Commonly used chemotherapy drugs forcats include doxorubicin, prednisone and cyclophosphamide. Since thefunction of the liver is to detoxify the body of medication andchemicals, the cat will require periodic monitoring duringtreatment. Most treatment options aim to reduce discomfort and paincaused by the disease. Although the prognosis is not very favorable,most cats survive longer with adequate treatment and home care.

What Is The Outlook For Cats With Liver Disease

If the liver disease is diagnosed and treated early, cats tend to make a full recovery. But untreated liver disease can lead to more serious conditions like biliary cirrhosis รข in which the bile duct is replaced by connective tissue. Acute liver failure can also occur. More than two-thirds of the liver must be severely damaged for liver failure to occur, and any intervention before this point can help prevent it.

Other complications of untreated liver disease include hepatic encephalopathy and fibrosis. Early treatment of potential liver disease in cats can lead to a healthier, longer life for your pet.

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What Signs And Symptoms Will You Notice In A Cat With Liver Disease

Some signs are strongly suggestive of liver disease – most notably jaundice, which appears as yellow discoloration of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, and ascites, which appears as swelling of the abdomen due to build-up of fluid.

These are often accompanied by less specific signs that can be quite variable including lethargy, changes in appetite, excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, bleeding disorders, vomiting, and diarrhea. These may be the only signs noted in some early or mild cases of liver disease. Unfortunately, jaundice and ascites can be signs of diseases in other body systems.

What Is Liver Tumor

Pet Tips Liver Disease in Cats

Cancer of the liver most often occurs in older cats who are 10 years of age or older male cats have a slightly greater risk of developing liver tumors than females. Treatment depends on whether the liver tumor is benign or malignant and what other organs are involved.

Liver tumors in cats, also known as hepatic neoplasia, occur when a primary tumor develops in the liver, when cancer develops in the blood cells or lymphoid tissue that involve the liver, or when a different type of cancer metastasizes and spreads to the liver. Primary liver cancer is rare in cats and accounts for less than two percent of all cases. The majority of liver cancer occurs when cancer of the spleen, pancreas, or intestinal tract becomes metastatic.

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Hemolymphatic Tumors Metastatic Tumors And Primary Tumors

Metastatic liver tumors spread to the liver from another area of the body. Hemolymphatic tumors spread from blood cells or lymph tissue. Primary liver tumors form and remain in the liver. Primary tumors are extremely rare in cats. Approximately one out of every fifty cats with cancer have primary liver tumors.

Primary liver tumors usually trace to an environmental cause such as exposure to toxins like spoiled pet food, pesticides, dyes and food additives. In most cases, cats diagnosed with primary liver cancer are older than ten years of age and a larger percentage of male cats develop this form of cancer in cats.

The most common primary liver cancer form is hepatocellular carcinoma, benign tumors growing in the liver tissue. Surgery is often the best option for primary liver cancer and most cats recover quickly and show no ill effects.

Metastatic liver cancer and Hemolymphatic tumors require a little more testing. Scans of the body and blood tests will be necessary to find the source of the original tumor.

What Is It And How Is It Diagnosed

Cancer is a term used to describe disease that is caused by a tumour a collection of abnormal cells within the body that continue to grow and divide without control. This usually results in the development of masses , which are mainly composed of the abnormal dividing cells.

Some tumours do not spread to other parts of the body and tend not to invade other surrounding tissues these are termed benign tumours.

In contrast to this, the term cancer is generally used to describe malignant tumours, which often do invade surrounding normal healthy tissue, and may spread to other sites in the body , typically spreading via the blood stream or lymphatic system.

Because of their more aggressive and invasive nature, malignant tumours are generally more serious than benign tumours, often causing more serious and extensive disease, and are generally more difficult to treat.

Overall, cats suffer with neoplasia less frequently than dogs. Neoplasms may perhaps be seen less than half as frequently in cats compared with dogs. However, when cats do develop tumours they are much more likely to be malignant and therefore much more likely to cause serious disease.

The most common sites of cancer in cats include the skin, the white blood cells , the mouth, the stomach and intestines and the mammary glands.

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Hepatic Lipidosis: Dangers Diagnosis And Treatment

Hepatic lipidosis is characterized by the excess accumulation of fat in the liver and is a common cause of potentially reversible liver failure in cats.

The liver is responsible for a variety of important functions, including the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, the synthesis of proteins and vitamins, the storage of vitamins and iron, the production of substances necessary for blood clotting, and the removal or breakdown of toxins.

What Causes These Tumors

Abdominal Tumors

The reason why a particular pet may develop this, or any other tumor or cancer, is not straightforward. Very few tumors and cancers have a single known cause. Most seem to be caused by a complex mix of risk factors, some environmental and some genetic or hereditary. In the case of primary liver tumors, there are no known causes. They tend to arise in older pets .

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Symptoms Of Cancer In Cats

As a cat owner, you should always be observant of any changes in your cats physical appearance and behavior. Not all cancer warning signs are apparent right away, with some changes developing over time.

If you notice any of these symptoms of cancer in your cat, contact your veterinarian to check things out as soon as possible. Depending on the cancer type and stage, your cats health can deteriorate very quickly, so its always best to get an exam. When in doubt, get it checked out.

  • Enlarged or changing lumps and bumps
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Chronic weight loss or weight gain
  • Change in appetite
  • Unpleasant odor from the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing, eating or swallowing
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating

Common Liver Diseases In Cats

Cats can suffer from a wide range of liver diseases which is why a liver biopsy can be so important in determining the underlying cause and finding the most appropriate treatment. Some important conditions include:

Neutrophilic cholangitis

This is a bacterial infection within the liver causing inflammation. It is usually a result of bacteria migrating up the bile duct and into the liver from the small intestine. It can sometimes be seen with concurrent pancreatic and intestinal disease. Diagnosis requires a liver biopsy as well as culture of the liver biopsy .

Treatment with appropriate antibiotics is required, but the prognosis is usually good if treatment is started promptly.

Lymphocytic cholangitis

This is a non-infectious inflammatory liver disease. The cause is unknown, but may be due to an abnormality with the immune system . Lymphocytic cholangitis often causes enlargement of the liver and may also cause fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Diagnosis is made through examination of a biopsy of the liver.

Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs usually corticosteroids. The prognosis varies depending on the severity, and although it can be good, some cases require prolonged or life-long treatment, and relapses can occur.

Hepatic lipidosis

Toxic liver damage

Liver tumours

Amyloidosis and hepatic peliosis

Other liver diseases

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Cat Liver Failure And When To Euthanize

Liver disease is a challenging diagnosis in our feline friends. Not only can liver disease have a drastic impact on your cats life, but it will often progress to complete liver failure. Once this happens, many cat owners are left with the question of when its time to let go.

In this article we will discuss the details of liver failure in cats, and help you understand when it may be time to euthanize your beloved companion.

Summary Of Liver Disease In Cats

Feline Liver Disease | Causes & Symptoms | Dr. Bill’s Pet Nutrition

While liver disease can be fatal, if caught early enough within the disease process, your cat could make a full recovery. Treatment and supportive care to allow the liver to rest and heal will give your cat the best chance of recovery. Exercising preventative measures under the guidance of your veterinarian and being aware of the signs and symptoms of liver disease can help keep your cat happy and healthy.

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Treatment Of Liver Disease In Cats

Like any illness, having an accurate diagnosis for the specific liver disease helps determine the best treatment options. In addition, there are supportive treatments that help cats to recover, including nutritional support. Always talk to your vet before changing your cats diet if she has liver disease.

Treatment varies depending on your cats symptoms. Cats with mild signs of liver disease often dont need to be hospitalized. They may go home with medications to help with nausea, vomiting and to encourage eating.

Cats with signs of dehydration, weight loss, and not eating often need to be hospitalized. Treatment in the hospital is geared toward keeping your cat hydrated, providing nutrition, appropriate medications, and close monitoring. Cats with severe liver disease are at risk for developing problems with other organs, such as the kidneys, and must be monitored closely by medical staff.

A Complication Of Disease Elsewhere

The liver has many functions, one of which is policing the blood to remove toxins or bacteria. This means that a problem elsewhere in the body often has a knock-on effect on the liver. Thus elevated liver enzymes dont always mean its the liver thats sick, it could be a sign the liver is responding to damage elsewhere.

From dental disease to high blood pressure there are any number of problems that give the appearance of liver disease but happily remove the infected teeth or correct high blood pressure and the liver can return to normal.

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Rupture Of The Gallbladder Or Bile Duct

Rupture of the gallbladder or bile duct is most often due to gallstones, inflammation of the gallbladder, or blunt trauma. Rupture of the bile duct may also occur as a result of cancer or certain parasites. Rupture leads to leakage of bile into the abdomen, causing a serious condition called bile peritonitis, which may be fatal if the rupture is not repaired. Signs include decreased appetite, abdominal discomfort, abdominal distension, and jaundice. Treatment includes surgery, which consists of tying off the bile duct, removing the gallbladder, or connecting the gallbladder with the small intestine. Antibiotics and other medications are also typically used before and after surgery.

Signs And Symptoms Of Liver Failure In Cats

Abdominal Tumors

So what does liver failure look like in cats? Since the liver has so many important functions, each cats symptoms can vary. Some of the most common symptoms of liver failure in cats include:

  • Jaundice
  • Ascites

If your cat is showing any of the above symptoms, be sure to contact your vet right away. Though these symptoms are not always indicative of liver failure, they can point to other serious illnesses as well.

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How Long Can Cats Live With Lung Cancer

Unfortunately, average lung cancer survival time is less than six months, although it can be over a year if the tumour is detected before it metastasizes. The prognosis is worse with lung-digit syndrome, with survival time averaging just a couple of months. Cats are usually euthanized due to their metastatic disease.

Preventive Measures Of Liver Cancer In Cats

Truthfully, there are no known preventive measures yet as of this time. However, there are preventative lifestyle measures pet owners should imbibe to prevent their cats from becoming a victim of this disease.

One of the suspected primary factors that influence this disease is environmental factors. As such, pet owners should maintain a clean, low-toxin lifestyle.

Also, Pet foods should be fresh and should not contain chemical additives. Likewise, the use of chemical cleaners should be eliminated within your home to lower the chances of your cat inhaling these toxins into its system.

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Surgery For Cancer Patients

Surgery is the single most common form of therapy for cancer and is the treatment most likely to result in a cure. However, complete removal of the tumour by surgery is not always possible . This is one of the reasons why an early diagnosis and early treatment can significantly improve the long-term prognosis.

In addition to curative surgery , surgery can also be used sometimes to remove some of the tumour to help improve quality of life or to help with other treatments . You can discuss with your vet the risks and benefits anticipated with any surgery to help make a decision in the best interest of your cat. You can also discuss with your vet any pain relief that can be given for the surgery and afterwards, and what sort of postoperative care would be required.

When cancer patients are treated surgically, it is common to remove normal tissue around the tumour as well as the tumour itself . The reason for this is that many tumours spread microscopically so although it may not be possible to see or feel any abnormalities, even normal tissues around a tumour may contain abnormal cells that would cause future problems if not removed.


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