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Information on Feline Jaundice Syndrome

by Pets Sos

He feline icteric syndromealso known as the fatty liver diseaseis one of the most common conditions among domestic cats.

This disease is caused by decompensation of bilirubin levels in blood and tissues and manifests itself by providing a pigmentation yellowish on the skin, urine and mucous membranes of cats.

Although it can be serious if not treated correctly, most cases of icteric syndrome in cats They are treatable with proper diagnosis and treatment.

In today’s article we will tell you more about this disease, the causes that cause it and the main treatments available.

Why does feline jaundice occur?

The feline jaundice It is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, which causes it to become inflamed and affects its function and, therefore, cannot properly remove bilirubin and other bile components from the blood.

As a general rule, one of the most common causes of the appearance of liver problems is a diet high in fat and carbohydrates. In addition, being overweight can promote the accumulation of fat in the liver and lead to liver inflammation.

In other cases, the disease may be hereditary or of idiopathic (unknown) cause.

Symptoms of jaundice in cats

Bilirubin buildup in a cat’s system can cause toxic effects on its central nervous system and contribute to cell damage in tissues.

He diagnosis of feline jaundice is based on clinical observation and laboratory tests. However, there are some symptoms that are easily identifiable and that will allow you to discover if your cat has feline jaundice:

yellowish tint of tissues

Without a doubt, one of the most easily identifiable symptoms.

The skin, gums, and whites of your cat’s eyes may take on a yellowish coloration.

dark urine

Another of the effects of the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood is a darker color in the urine.

Increase in the size of the abdomen

Liver diseases often cause swelling and enlargement of your cat’s abdomen.

loss of appetite

In addition, this symptom is one of the problems that owners of cats with jaundice must face since, by decreasing their appetite, it becomes more difficult to administer the appropriate treatment.

review our โ€œ6 signs that you should take your cat to a vetโ€œ

Types of Feline Icteric Syndrome

The types of feline jaundice They are classified based on the underlying cause:

hepatic jaundice

This type of jaundice occurs when there is damage to liver cells. This may be due to some liver disease such as lipidosis, neoplasia or cirrhosis.

Posthepatic jaundice

It occurs when the liver works, but has problems when it comes to storing or transporting substances. It is usually related to the presence of bilirubin outside the liver and leads to diseases such as pancreatitis, neoplasms either bile duct ruptures.

nonhepatic jaundice

It occurs when the problem is not related to the liver. If it is not related to a liver disorder, jaundice in our cat is usually due to hemolysis (red blood cell rupture) for various reasons: toxic substances (eg paracetamol), some bacterial or viral infections…, etc.

How to treat feline jaundice?

As a general rule, the feline jaundice treatment it is complex and will depend on the underlying cause of the jaundice.


In less severe cases, it is usually based on a high-protein, low-calorie diet to promote digestion and compensate for possible anemia.

  • Proteins: It is important that the protein is of quality and comes from sources such as turkey, chicken or lean meat.
  • Fats: Avoid excess oil and fatty foods, so your pet’s liver will have to work less.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Present in some fish such as salmon and sardines, they have anti-inflammatory properties for the liver.

Do not miss our article on How to choose the right diet for an adult cat


They are usually recommended if there is an underlying bacterial infection. Remember that it should always be the veterinarian who dictates the administration of said drugs and their dosage.


In the most severe cases, when the bile duct is blocked and is causing the jaundice, surgery may be necessary to remove the blockage and restore the bile ducts.

It is important that you keep in mind that thefeline jaundice it may be a symptom of a more serious underlying disease. Therefore, we recommend that you seek immediate veterinary attention if you notice any signs of jaundice in your cat, as early treatment can significantly improve the chances of recovery.

In Kivet Clinics we have the best veterinary professionals specialists in the health of your feline, you can also benefit from a health plan. Remember that you have more than 65 Kivet veterinary centers between Spain and Portugal with a team of more than 250 professionals to care for your cat.

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