Hepatitis in Cats: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Hepatitis is a liver disorder which can cause a wide range of serious health issues in cats. Here, our Ventura vets define the two different types of hepatitis in cats, their causes, their symptoms and their treatments. 

Hepatitis in Cats: What it Is & Causes 

Your cat's liver is their largest and most important organ in their body. Their liver plays an enormous role in converting food into nutrients as well as synthesizing enzymes and proteins, filtering impurities such as drugs or poison from your blood and produces bile.

Hepatitis is a disorder of the liver which is caused by bacterial or viral infections, parasites, or metabolic diseases. The disorder can cause your cat's liver to become inflamed and to stop functioning altogether. 

There are two common types of hepatitis in cats: Cholangiohepatitis and Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis. 

Types of Hepatitis in Cats


With the common disorder cholangiohepatitis, your cat’s bile ducts and liver are inflamed, potentially due to a fungal or bacterial infection. Cats with this issues may also experience digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis.

This diseases' chronic version can be caused by an immune-mediated infection or a disease such as toxiplasmosis, feline leukemia, liver flukes or feline infectious peritonitis. Your cat's liver retains bile, and as the flow of their bile is restricted, there is inflammation and swelling. Caustic bile fluids can also damage the liver and biliary ducts.

Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis

This inflammatory liver disease can be related to the function of your cat's immune symptoms. It is more commonly found in older cats who may also have hyperthyroidism. 

Symptoms of Hepatitis in Cats

The following are symptoms of cholangiohepatitis and Lympthocytic Portal Hepatitis in cats:


  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • High fever
  • Jaundice (yellowing in the eye)

Lymphoctic Portal Hepatitis

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Enlarged liver
  • Poor appetite

Diagnosis of Hepatitis in Cats

The more thoroughly your are able to recall your cat's medical history, the better your vet will be able to produce a diagnosis for their hepatitis. Try to remember what events led to the the onset of your kitty's symptoms. Your vet will conduct a physical exam of your cat and take a number of different diagnostic tests including a complete blood count, urinalysis, an electrolyte panel and a complete blood count. They will then check to make sure your cat's kidneys are impaired at all.

Ultrasound imaging and x-rays will also be used to examine the liver, and a sample of tissue potentially taken for biopsy.

At Providence Animal Hospital, our veterinarians take a comprehensive approach to internal medicine. We use advanced diagnostic, testing and imaging tools to accurately and efficiently diagnose conditions and illnesses in pets, then plan effective treatments.

Treatment of Hepatitis in Cats

Treatment for your cat’s hepatitis will depend on how ill he or she is - hospitalization and fluid therapy may be necessary, along with supplements in the form of dextrose, vitamin B and potassium.

While being treated and in recovery, your cat's activity will have to be kept restricted. Ask your veterinarians about whether or not cage rest is an option for your kitty and make sure they key keep warm and comfortable.

Fluid buildup in the abdomen can be alleviated by medications, which may also be prescribed to treat infection in the abdomen, decrease brain swelling , decrease ammonia production and absorption, and control other serious symptoms such as seizures.

Your cat's colon may need to be emptied with an enema. Your cat will also have to be switched to a diet of several small meals a day. This nutritional change will also be light on sodium content and supplemented with thiamine and vitamins. 

If your cat is experiencing a loss of appetite, talk to your vet about using an intravenous feeding tube to ensure they do not lose any more muscle.

How can hepatitis in cats be managed?

Depending on the underlying cause of hepatitis in your cat, your veterinarian will schedule followup appointments for treatment and monitoring.

Give your best effort to reducing your cat's pain and discomfort as much as possible. Make sure to keep a close eye on their symptoms and contact your veterinarians as soon as possible if your cat begins to lose weight, their symptoms worsen, or their body's functions start to noticeably deteriorate. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect that your cat is showing signs of hepatitis? Contact your vet as soon as possible to ask them about treatments and referrals. Contact Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) today to learn more about this condition and your treatment options.

Hepatitis in Cats: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment | Ventura Animal Hospital

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