Scooter battles a liver disorder

Scooter is an 8 year old domestic short-haired cat that has just been diagnosed with a liver disorder called lymphocytic cholangitis. Scooter's symptoms started off quite vague. She seemed a bit off color, became fussy with food, drank a little more than usual, and then developed some diarrhoea. Over the course of a few weeks she had significantly lost weight and her owners thought it would be best to bring her to the vet.

Scooter was given a thorough check over and the main findings were a high temperature and slightly jaundiced (yellow) mucous membranes in her mouth, which is a sign of liver disease. Her weight was compared to the last visit and confirmed she had lost 700g or 15% bodyweight.

A blood test revealed elevated liver enzymes, which indicated a liver disease, but blood tests cannot distinguish between the different types of liver diseases. For this information, an ultrasound examination was needed to check if the liver had enlarged or shrunk, or had a tumorous growth. We arranged for Dr Pook, an ultrasound technician to come to Pascoe Vale Veterinary Hospital to perform an ultrasound on Scooter. The imaging revealed Scooter's liver was mildly enlarged, and her gall bladder thickened. A biopsy defined the final diagnosis - lymphocytic cholangitis, which is an inflammatory disease. Having a definitive diagnosis means that we can fine-tune Scooter's medical management, and also consult with specialists about the best way to treat this disease. We know that pancreatitis can be associated with lymphocytic cholangitis, therefore a specific blood test was performed and the results of which ruled out pancreatic involvement. This is a good result and simplifies the treatment.

Scooter has been prescribed anti-inflammatories as the initial management of this disease. She took a little while to start feeling better, but now she has regained a lot of strength and her appetite is much better (with cravings for mince!) It is still very early to say how she will progress, but hopefully the anti-inflammatories can stop the ongoing damage to the liver, allowing the liver a chance to recover. Fortunately the liver has great powers of regeneration. Whether or not this becomes a lifelong condition remains to be seen, but we all have our fingers crossed for Scooter that she continues to improve.