We often don’t associate cats with hepatitis. However, while more dogs than cats are diagnosed with the condition, cats with liver disease are not uncommon.
Best Friends Veterinary Hospital, cited below, states, "Hepatitis in cats is a liver disorder that may be caused by parasitic diseases, viral and bacterial infections, or metabolic conditions (such as hyperthyroidism). When your cat develops hepatitis, its liver becomes inflamed, and its function becomes impaired."
Cats can develop two types of hepatitis, Cholangiohepatitis and Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis, each with specific symptoms. Inflammation in the bile ducts and liver cause Cholangiohepatitis in cats. Symptoms include vomiting, a high fever, jaundice (yellowing) in the eye, and a poor appetite.
Veterinarians aren't sure what causes Lymphocytic Portal Hepatitis. Still, Veterinary Medical Services Group (VMSG), cited below, proposes, "It may be linked in older cats with a case history of hyperthyroidism and can be related to the function of your cat's immune symptoms." Symptoms include lethargy, weight loss, fever, diarrhea, poor appetite, and tenderness around the liver.
To diagnose hepatitis in cats, vets rely on your observations of your kitty at home. They will examine your cat and order diagnostic tests, including blood work, urinalysis, kidney testing, and an electrolyte panel. Best Friends Veterinary Hospital states, "Ultrasound imaging and x-rays will also be used to examine the liver, and a sample of tissue potentially taken for biopsy."
Treatment of feline hepatitis will depend on the severity of your cat’s case. Some cats may need to be hospitalized and given fluids and supplements to stabilize their condition. After that, your vet will decide if your cat should have cage rest and be kept warm once he goes home.
VMSG reports that although treatable, further issues can still arise in a cat after treatment, as "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."
A cat battling hepatitis should be fed several small meals daily with low-sodium food. This feeding regimen will help diminish the amount of stress on his liver. Once your cat is back home, keep an eye on his appetite. If he is losing more weight, that means that he is also losing muscle. Your vet may have to insert an intravenous feeding tube as a precaution.
VMSG says, "Follow up appointments with the vet will be necessary, especially if the cat is losing weight, becomes listless, or is losing bodily functions."
Fortunately, cats with hepatitis are not contagious for their humans. Don't worry about catching hepatitis from your sick cat. Best Friends Veterinary Hospital says, "Viral hepatitis in cats is usually spread through the blood of infected animals. However, there have been no confirmed cases of hepatitis via a cat scratch. So, rest assured that hepatitis in cats should not be contagious to you or other pets."
Quote to remember: "A kitten is in the animal world what a rosebud is in the garden." - Robert Southey
Veterinary Medical Services Group (VMSG)
"Hepatitis in Cats: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment"
Best Friends Veterinary Hospital
"Hepatitis in Cats: Treatment & Life Expectancy"