The liver plays an important role in metabolism and taking toxins and other unneeded compounds out of the blood. Liver damage or disease can be the result of a birth defect, infections, poisoning, or other conditions such as heart disease.
Because liver problems are often part of other illnesses, they usually don't have unique symptoms of their own. The notable exception is jaundice, which is a yellowish cast to the white of the cat's eye and possibly even her skin and under her tongue. Usually, abnormal liver function is only discovered or verified through blood tests.
What to Do
Keep a sharp eye out. Liver problems due to infection and poisoning can often be stopped and much of the damage reversed if caught early enough. Watch for symptoms, and don't wait too long to call the vet if your cat is sick (especially if she's not getting better). Never assume any illness will get better by itself.
Since the clinical signs of a cat with liver problems are the same as several other illnesses it can be difficult to determine what's wrong with your cat. These signs include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, weight loss, dehydration, seizures, and increased urination (thus increased water consumption). Once you notice these symptoms, check for any signs of jaundice to determine if the problem is liver-related.
Follow directions. Once a cat has been diagnosed with liver disease, her recovery depends on you. Carefully follow all diet and medication instructions your vet gives you. Resist the temptation to cheat in order to make your cat "feel better"; in the long run, you may be shortening her life.
When to Call the Vet
Jaundice is a sure sign that something is not normal in the liver, so call the vet immediately.
DANGER LEVEL: Liver disease is usually fatal if not treated, and some forms are fatal no matter what. Therefore, liver disease is extremely dangerous.
Your cat does not brush her teeth every night before bed, and, as a result, tooth and gum disease can be a problem. We'll cover how to care for your cat's choppers in the next section.