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Liver disease in a cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: part maine coon
Age: 5-8 years
Ruby is 8 years old, and was diagnosed with liver disease last Thursday. I could not afford to leave her with the vet, therefore I took her home and administered Normosol-R, 150 cc per day for the past week. She has also been on Adenosyl - which she is now throwing up, Metronidazole, Metoclopramide, and Cefa Drops (Cefadroxil)- the Cefa drops and Metoclopramide are now finished. We finished administering the Normosol on Sunday. I bought Milk Thistle, and was considering taking her off the Adenosyl because it's making her sick and just giving her the MT drops. I just can't afford anymore vet visits and I feel so bad for her, I just want to know if I can help her at home.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that Ruby is not doing well.

Liver disease is so tricky with cats because there are so many different kinds of things that can affect the liver and unfortunately it is often hard to get an exact diagnosis without doing a lot of expensive tests.

I have a few questions for you before I type out a more complete answer:

1. Did your vet give you an idea of what kind of liver disease this is likely to be? i.e. did he or she give you a name like fatty liver, cholangiohepatitis or anything like that?

2. Is she jaundiced? (i.e. do you see any yellow tinge in the whites of her eyes or anywhere else?)

3. Is she eating anything at all?


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

He did mention both hepatitis and liver failure. I was getting soooo much information that was difficult to comprehend. Yes, she is jaundiced, yellow in the whites of her eye, and I noticed yesterday, when I was giving her the pills, she was kinda yellow in her gums. She was eating a little, and eating some cat treats - I'm giving her anything she'll eat, but won't eat anything today........I don't know if she is not eating because she is sick, or because the meds are making her sick. I know the Adenosyl has milk thistle in it, that is why I bought the MT. She is still urinating and I thnk she had a small bowel movement last night.........we have two cats. She was extremely overweight and we had her on a diet, therefore, when she was losing weight last month, we thought it was because we were cutting back her food.

I am a firm believer in natural healing, and would definitely give her the milk thistle if I thought the meds weren't helping her.

Thanks so much!!!

p.s one other thing..........we use a lot of essential oils and incense, and I was told THAT could cause liver problems in birds and animals.....almost killed my friend's bird. Ruby is always in the house, won't go out. Could that be contributing to her problems? I have her on the porch with me today.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is a really tough situation. When a cat is this sick and jaundiced their best chance of survival is with intensive intravenous fluid therapy at the hospital. The fluids given directly into the vein will help to flush any toxins out of the liver. They will also flush toxins out of the bloodstream that are there because the liver is not detoxifying them. Intravenous fluids are way better than the subcutaneous normasol that you are giving.

The vomiting is likely because the liver is sick and not because of the medication.

If you can't afford having Ruby hospitalized, perhaps you could talk to your vet about having a feeding tube put in her? Often, in cats with liver disease, if we can get some liquid food (such as clinicare) into the stomach in really small amounts via a feeding tube they can recover. Liver disease is frustrating because in order for the liver to repair, a cat needs to eat. But, the cats don't want to eat because the liver makes them feel sick. So, sometimes a feeding tube will help.

You may also want to talk to your vet about continuing with the metaclopramide. This is an anti-nausea medication and may help her to be able to keep her food down.

I totally understand how you feel about having too much information and not being able to take it all in. You should be able to call your vet's office and ask if you can get a little bit more clarification on what could be going on with your cat. You can also mention that she is not doing well and ask if there is anything they can suggest to help.

Regarding milk thistle...this is a good supplement to help to support the liver. But, milk thistle and other liver supporting drugs are not miracle drugs. They may help slightly, but they're unlikely to cure liver disease on their own.

The essential oils burning in the house are not likely to be harmful to Ruby. Birds can have issues with anything that puts scents or chemicals into the air, but it's unlikely that this has caused Ruby's problem.

If it is at all possible to have Ruby admitted to the hospital this is her best chance at surviving this. This list of resources may possibly help, if finances are tight.

I really hope things look up soon!

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.