The largest organ in the body of a cat is its liver. It serves many important functions. Learn more about the role of the liver in cats and potential health issues in the article Liver Disease in Cats. These issues can include liver cancer, gallbladder inflammation, and poisoning.
A biochemical profile can confirm that cat liver enzymes can exceed 500. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is liver disease. It can also indicate an underlying condition of other organs that is not necessarily related to the liver. Early detection and treatment is possible by monitoring your pet and paying attention to any behavior and bodily changes.
- What are Liver Enzymes?
Let’s start by briefly defining what an enzyme is. Enzymes are proteins that can separate large molecules into smaller molecules. Enzymes can also be used to create new compounds by joining smaller molecules. They are, in essence, a tool for the body to manage its biochemistry.
The liver is a marvellous biochemical factory that allows molecules to be broken down into smaller pieces. Others are then put together into larger structures for energy storage or other purposes. This is why the liver employs many different types of enzymes in order to run this factory.
- What are Elevated Liver Enzymes (ELA)?
The liver, a lobed organ found in the abdomen, is responsible for many metabolic functions.
- Detoxification drugs and toxins
- Conversion of sugars to glycogen
- Manufactures bile which aids in fat digestion
- Fat-soluble vitamins A and D, E, K, can be stored
- Storage and Synthesis of Fats
- Hemoglobin is broken down to create metabolites, which are added to bile (bilirubin).
- Controls chemicals in blood
- Blood clotting factors are produced by the liver
- Converts ammonia to urea which is excreted out of the body through the urine
- What causes elevated levels of liver enzymes in cats?
- Lymphocytic portal Hepatitis
Lymphocytic portal liver disease is believed to be caused by an immune disorder or thyroid disorder. However, no definitive cause has been identified.
- Hepatic Lipidosis
Hepatic liposis, also known as “fatty liver disease”, can be the most severe form of liver disease in cats. This condition is more common in cats who are middle-aged and overweight. Malnutrition can be a cause of this condition.
- Inability to process or lack of protein
- Anorexia Permanente
- Hormonal disturbances
- Changes in Diet
- Kidney Disease
The following conditions have been associated with Cholangiohepatitis:
- An infection that is bacterial, fungal or protozoal
- Feline infectious peritonitis
- Feline leukemia
- Liver flukes
Cats with Liver Disease Symptoms
The underlying cause will determine the severity of liver disease symptoms. One or more of these symptoms may occur in affected cats:
- A decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Pale gums
- A excessive thirst
- Stomach ulcers
- Excessive urine
- Dark urine
- Excessive drooling
- Muscle Wasting
- Abdominal swelling
- Abdominal fluid buildup
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Increases or decreases in the size of the liver
- Behavior changes
The following are common types of liver disease:
- Hepatic lipidosis
- Cholangiohepatitis (acute and chronic)
- Lymphocytic portal Hepatitis
4. How can your veterinarian diagnose liver problems?
There are many methods to test the liver. Blood tests are just one. You can also try the following tests:
- To feel the size of the liver, touch the abdomen of the cat.
- You can check for jaundice by looking at the cat’s gums and the membranes beneath the eyes.
- Use an ultrasound to examine the inner structure of your liver.
- Take a biopsy, and examine the liver cells with a microscope.
5. Diagnosis of Liver Disease
On blood or urine tests, you may find several abnormalities.
- The blood and urine levels of bilirubin may be higher
- The blood level of liver enzymes can be measured. These enzymes are made in liver cells. If there is damage or obstruction to the flow bile, these enzyme levels can rise. This could include:
- ALT (alanine aminotransferase)
- ALP (alkalinephosphatase).
- AST (aspartame aminotransferase)
- GGT (gammaglutamyl transferase)
- Bile acids – These are substances produced by the liver that aid in digestion of fat in your intestine. The blood bile acid concentration may rise in liver disease or where there is an obstruction to the flow bile. Although elevated liver enzymes may indicate liver damage, the bile acids test can provide some information about liver function.
- Hematology: This is the study of the red and white blood cells. It can give you some clues about possible underlying infections or inflammation.
- The blood contains proteins
6. Cats are usually tested for liver enzymes.
Although many “in-house” blood analysts don’t include all these enzymes in their profiles they can still get results within 10-15 minutes instead of 24 hours. Dr. Miller states that most liver functions blood tests cover the following enzymes:
- GGT (gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase)
GGT can be elevated in liver diseases, but it is elevated in hepatic cholesterolosis.
- ALT (alanine transferase)
Although ALT is specific for damaged or leaking liver cells, it is not very specific.
- ALP (alkalinephosphatase).
ALP can only be caused by biliary (bile-ducts and gallbladder damage) in cats, but it can also come from small bile drains in the liver and gallbladder as well as large ducts that are outside the liver.
- AST (aspartate aminotransferase)
Cats may be more sensitive to AST for certain types of liver disease, such as FIP’s granulomatous inflammation. However, AST can also be produced by muscle injury.
7. Cats with the Most Common Liver Diseases
There are many diseases that can affect the liver of cats, and each one has its cause. Cats can be affected by inflammatory diseases like cholangiohepatitis or lymphocytic chokelangitis.
Liver disease can also be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Fatty liver syndrome, also known as hepatic lipidosis, can also cause liver disease in cats.
Other common diseases that can affect the liver include Lymphoma, Lymphoma, and Adenocarcinoma. Feline Infectious Perioditis (FIP), Diabetes Mellitus and Portosystemic Shunts are all possible.
The liver’s ability to regenerate and function increase the chances of it being able to heal. Liver failure occurs when the liver loses 70% of its function.
8. Are There Any Treatments for High Levels of Liver Enzymes?
The cause of liver disease is very important. This is why liver biopsy and additional tests are sometimes necessary. Supportive treatment is available in many cases. This includes intravenous fluids for cats who are dehydrated, nutritional support and drugs that can support liver function and blood clotting, such as:
- Vitamin K
- Ursodeoxycholic Acid (UDCA).
- s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
- Discovery And Diagnosis
This is the most important step on the road to recovery and treatment. It can help you understand the cause of your symptoms and how to treat them.
A successful recovery begins with early detection of the disease. Keep your eyes open for any changes in your pet’s health. Go, pet parent!
- Nutritional Support
The vet might prescribe an appetite stimulant if the cat is severely malnourished. The cat may need food via a feeding tube or syringe. This may need to be continued for several weeks before the cat can consume enough calories on its own.
In-patient treatment and intensive care will be required if the cat has advanced illness or is displaying severe symptoms. It is important to address electrolyte imbalances quickly. Fluid therapy will likely be given to the cat along with supplements of B-complex vitamins and thiamine. A needle aspiration or prescription diuretic will likely be used to treat abdominal swelling.
- Changes in diet
After the cat is released from the hospital, we will focus on stress reduction by reducing the amount fats, proteins and carbohydrates that have to be processed. You can achieve this by providing a high-quality, high-quality diet, which is rich in protein, calorie dense, easy to digest, low in sodium, and easy to swallow. To reduce stress, the cat will need small meals every day. You may also need to give your cat dietary supplements.
A cat’s liver enzyme level above 500 may indicate liver disease. For a successful and healthy recovery, it is important to get the problem early and correctly diagnose it. For a complete diagnosis, consult a veterinarian if you notice any changes in your pet.
This stressful time can be eased by seeking support from other pet parents through blogs and forums. We wish you and your cat the best!