Cholangitis/Hepatitis in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

An inflammation of the liver is called hepatitis and an inflammation of the bile system is called cholangitis.

Sometimes there is a simultaneous inflammation in both of these organs and it is called cholangiohepatitis.

The liver is located in the anterior part of the abdomen just behind the diaphragm. The liver’s task is to cleanse the body of slag products, form different types of proteins and vitamins, participate in blood formation and sugar regulation and produce bile.

The gallbladder is located right next to the liver and the bile duct opens into the duodenum. The liver produces bile that is transported to the gallbladder and stored here. When the cat eats, the bile is emptied in the intestine and helps to break down fats in the food. Residues formed when the liver cleanses the blood can also accompany the bile and further out with the feces.


It is often not possible to determine the cause of the development of inflammation in these organs. Certain poisonings, tumors and infectious diseases can lead to hepatitis. The liver has a good capacity to heal and many inflammations heal in a few weeks with supportive treatment. A cat that eats poorly or loses too much weight for a while can develop a fatty liver, which is a life-threatening condition.


Cats with inflammation of the bile system and liver can show symptoms in the form of abdominal pain, poor appetite, deteriorating fur quality, vomiting and diarrhea, yellowing of the white of the eyes / mucous membranes and sometimes even fever. The symptoms may creep in, in chronic inflammation, or appear acute.


Diagnosis is made with blood tests where blood liver values ​​(enzymes released from damaged liver cells) and bile acids are measured. With advanced disease, the cat may also have too low protein levels in the blood and anemia. Signs of inflammation in the liver and / or bile ducts can often be detected by an ultrasound examination. To get a definite diagnosis, it is sometimes necessary for tissue pieces from the liver to be analyzed in a lab.


Hepatobiliary inflammation is treated with drip, nutrition (cats that do not eat the tube themselves), vitamin supplements and gentle food. In some cases, pain relief is needed for the cat to feel good and start eating again. Bacterial infections of the liver and bile ducts are uncommon, which is why antibiotics are rarely needed.

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