What is Acute Liver Failure?

The liver is an important organ with many functions, including the digestion and conversion of nutrients, the removal of toxic substances from the blood, and the storage of vitamins and minerals.

Since the symptoms of liver disease are not specific, owners may have difficulty recognizing a potential problem. Any cat who has stopped eating for two to three days or is exhibiting other concerning symptoms should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Liver disease is serious and can be life-threatening. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to the likelihood of recovery. The liver is responsible for many important functions including filtering toxic substances from the blood, digesting nutrients, and storing vitamins and minerals. Its many functions make the liver susceptible to damage, while its ability to regenerate decreases the likelihood that damage will be permanent. Cats with liver disease may experience a neurological syndrome known as hepatic encephalopathy which is indicated by behaviours such as aimless wandering, circling, and head pressing. Loss of appetite and extreme weight loss are also potential signs of the condition. 

Symptoms of Liver Disease in Cats

Symptoms of liver disease will depend on the underlying cause. Affected cats may experience one or more of the following: 

  • Decreased appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Jaundice Pale gums 
  • Excessive thirst 
  • Vomiting Stomach ulcers 
  • Diarrhea Excessive urination 
  • Dark-colored urine 
  • Excessive drooling
  • Muscle Wasting 
  • Distended abdomen  
  • Buildup of abdominal fluid 
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding 
  • Changes in liver size 
  • Behavior changes 
  • Lethargy Depression Collapse Types

Treatment of Liver Disease in Cats 

Treatment recommendations will depend on the underlying cause of the liver disease and the severity of symptoms.  Please consult a veterinarian for treatment immediately.


The cat is likely to receive fluid therapy and supplements of B-complex vitamins, thiamine, and cobalamin. Abdominal swelling will likely be treated with a needle aspiration or prescribed diuretic.

Nutritional Support 

If the cat is malnourished, the vet may prescribe an appetite stimulant. It is often more likely that the cat will require food to be administered through a syringe or feeding tube. This many need to continue for as long as several weeks until the cat is able to consume sufficient calories on its own. 

Dietary Changes 

It can be provided with a diet that is partially high in protein, calories, and low in sodium. The cat will need to frequently be fed small meals that are easy to swallow and easily digestible. It is crucial for cats to take additional supplements in times like these to help their recovery process.