Jaundice in Cats Symptoms, Causes and Treatments


Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the cat’s skin, eyes, ear flaps, gums, and foot pads, which veterinarians explain to cat owners. Jaundice is a symptom of a serious sickness since it indicates a high quantity of bilirubin in the blood.

If the excessive amount of yellow pigment due to bilirubin builds up in a cat’s blood as well as organs, it triggers jaundice. The more jaundice, also known as “icterus,” a cat gets, the more yellow its skin, eyes, and body tissues appear to be. Since the majority of cats’ bodies are covered with hair pet owners and veterinarians are able to detect jaundice when taking a look at the cat’s eye, gums, feet pads, and the flaps of its ears. Jaundice will be difficult to detect in cats with black skin or gums. Jaundice is frequently a sign of something more serious.

Jaundice in Cats: Symptoms

Because jaundice is one of several symptoms of serious illness, vigilant cat owners can help their pets by recognizing these warning signals, which include:

Appetite loss or anorexia
Yellowed skin, eyes, or other parts of the body
Abdomen that is rounded
Uncomfortable stomach
a shabby, rough coat
Grooming issues
Long-term bleeding
Unusual actions
Breathing problems
Urine that is bright orange in color.
Thirst increases
Urination is becoming more frequent.

Jaundice in Cats: What Causes It?

Jaundice develops in cats as a result of a variety of internal issues. Treatments for jaundice will change depending on the cause.

Red blood cell destruction (hemolysis)
Obstruction of the bile duct. The gallbladder or bile ducts may become inflamed, causing bile to thicken.
Parasites of the blood
Hepatocellular enlargement
Infection caused by a virus or bacterium
Exposure to chemicals (leads to toxic hepatopathy)
Pancreatic carcinoma
Gallbladder cancer
Lipidosis of the liver (fatty liver)
Amyloidosis of the liver (accumulated amyloid in the liver)
Infectious peritonitis in cats (a fatal illness)

Jaundice in Cats Diagnosis

If pet owners inform their veterinarians that they think the cat may have jaundice, the vet will conduct a physical exam and note down the observations and then order further tests. The veterinarian examines the exposed skin regions of the cat’s body first. They order extra diagnostic tests, which may include blood work, if they notice jaundice.

A complete blood count, or CBC, is part of this blood test. This test determines the number of platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells in the cat’s blood. Labs use the packed cell volume, or PCV, in addition to the CBC. This shows the veterinarian how many red blood cells are present in the blood. If the cat is anemic, the veterinarian looks to see if the cat has hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells). They’ll also examine the cat’s blood under a microscope to see if it has aberrant red blood cells, immature red blood cells, or an unusual clump of cells.

If the vet discovers that the cat has not been treated for heartworms and that it is an outdoor cat, they may suspect a heartworm infestation. If other symptoms, such as excessive thirst, drinking, and urine, are present, the veterinarian will want to examine the cat’s liver and kidneys.

Urinalysis and a biochemical profile are two further diagnostic procedures that may be used. These tests search for alterations in blood cells, anemia, bilirubin in the urine, and urine concentration, among other things.

The vet may order X-rays or an ultrasound, a liver biopsy, a Coombs test (to see if the cat’s immune system is destroying red blood cells), or serologic tests to see if the cat has feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), toxoplasmosis, or feline leukemia virus, depending on the early findings (FeLV).

Treatment for Cats with Jaundice:

Jaundice is not treated by veterinarians on its own. Once the reason of a cat’s jaundice is identified, the disease is treated, and the jaundice ultimately goes away. For example, if the cat has a viral or bacterial infection, the veterinarian may give antibiotics or steroids to help the cat’s immune system cope with the bacteria or virus. Supportive care will be offered to cats identified with FIV or FeLV, allowing their immune systems to cope with the virus.

If the cat has consumed poison, the vet will administer activated charcoal to help the cat eliminate the toxins from its system. Vomiting may be induced by the veterinarian. The cat will give high-quality nutritional assistance for the cat with hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver), consisting of a high-protein, high-calorie food.

The cat will have surgery and treatment if the vet diagnoses liver cancer. If the biliary tract is obstructed, the cat will need surgery to clear the obstruction.

Corticosteroids are administered to cats with hepatitis to minimize liver inflammation. Pain meds will be provided to the cat if it is in pain. The veterinarian may administer SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine), which supports the liver by increasing glutathione, an antioxidant. Ursodeoxycholic acid is an example of a nutritional supplement. Vitamin K or Silybin, which supports liver function, may also be given to the cat. This antioxidant aids the liver’s detoxification process by removing poisons and medications. Blood transfusions are given to cats that are anemic

Jaundice in Cats Recovery

Depending on the source of the jaundice of the cat, the cat’s owner could be offered an accurate prognosis, or warned that the cat’s disease could be fatal or terminal for example, when it is the case with feline infectious peritonitis.

Many cats can live for many more years once the vet determines the exact source of the cat’s jaundice and establishes an efficient treatment plan. Cat owners must give their cats their prescribed drugs on a regular basis and eat just the foods that are advised, which aids in the cat’s recuperation. The reasons for jaundice can be successfully treated by providing high-quality foods and taking drugs as directed.