Picture of Jaundiced Cat

A common symptom of liver disease is jaundice, which causes a change in color of the skin. Often the change in color of the skin can be first seen inside the ear (the pinna or ear flap of the cat's ear). Bile accumulates in the tissues. The skin and eyes turn yellow. Alcoholic people can be jaundiced because ethanol alcohol damages the liver. Other signs of a cat with liver failure are weakness, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drinking and pain in the abdomen. A blockage of the bile duct (uncommon) can also cause a jaundiced appearance.

Jaundiced cat - Photo: Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic

This photo has been used with permission for teaching/educational purposes at this website, a subdomain of PoC. The source of the photo is Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic. Thank you for the license to use it here. Visitors: If you want to use it please ask the clinic first.

What causes liver disease and liver failure? Here is a list:
  • Idiopathic hepatic lipidosis - Feline Fatty Liver Disease. This is the most "common metabolic cause of liver failure"; a disease unique to cats (Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - the book).
  • cholangiohepatitis
  • feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
  • toxoplasmosis
  • feline leukemia causing liver "insufficiency" (src: the book). See signs of feline leukemia.
  • chemicals: insecticides.
  • metals: copper, lead, selenium, iron.
  • drugs: Tylenol, some antibiotics, Valium, some steroids. Drugs administered for a long time or overdosed can cause liver failure.

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