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Ask the Veterinarian/High Bilirubin levels in cats


Good Day
I have a 14 year cat that has currently diagnosed with high bilirubin levels, at 104. She is also jaundice. She started losing weight about a month ago, and eating habits changed-acted like she just couldn't eat when she went to the food dish. She seemed to have interest in her food, but than would just walk away or spit it out. We originally thought it was a tooth issue as her teeth have never been the best, and when she ate over the last few weeks it looked as if it was uncomfortable for her as she would put her food to one side to chew it. I than put her on canned food, she did so so for abit, but than stop even licking it up as well.

She is currently at the vets getting IV fluids to flush her, being forced feed (via syringe) as she will not eat on her own now, and is being given Prednisone medication.

My question is can Bilirubin levels just rise up this high on there own, I know not eating and using her fat stores can raise them, but the vet hasn't told me as to what the cause of this is in the first place. All her other blood work (white cell count came back normal, thyroid normal, slightly anemic, but no red flags other than the Bilirubin levels)

The vet said she probably stopped being interested in food as she was just feeling ill from her liver acting up, but can this issue just occur on its own or is there a major underlying cause that we have not yet found. He felt around to feel for lumps in that area and didn't find any, but no ultra sound has been performed at this time. He suggested to wait a few days to see how she is once off the IV.

I'm being told that she still isn't eating on her own because she just feels nauseated from her liver issue, and with time she may resume her eating on her own. Can we be missing something, any other blood test to recommend or any other specific test to ask for?

Thank you,

Hi Jackie,

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), hepatic lipidosis (The fatty liver disease of fasting cats), liver damage due to medications and chemicals, lymphoma , toxoplasmosis, polycystic liver disease and gallstones all cause liver disease in cats. But cholangiohepatitis and hepatic lipidosis account for the majority of liver issues that cats face.  
In your cat's case the probability of  cholangiohepatitis cannot be ruled out.But a final conclusion can be reached only by your vet, after ruling rut other possibilities with various tests to follow.I think the treatment protocol is going in the right direction.

wish you all the best.  

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Dr S Bindu Anand


Large and Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, Farm Management,Preventive medicine


A Senior Veterinary Surgeon with more than 25 years’ experience in the field of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry. Mixed animal Practice that will utilize my skills in medicine and surgery, public health, client relations, and developing relationships within the community, such as humane society

Veterinary Consultant with Department of Animal Resources,Ministry of Environment,State of Qatar (Present). Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Kerala, India. Oakland's Park, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Severnside Veterinary Center, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Saud Bahwan Group, Sultanate of Oman. Trivandrum Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union,Kerala,India.

BVSc & AH (Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry) 1990. College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, Thrissur, Kerala, India under Kerala Agricultural University. Certificates Of Accomplishments- Equine Nutrition- University of Edinburgh Principles of Public Health-University of California, Irvine. AIDS- Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. General Environmental Health – EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Food Protection-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Zoonoses:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Food Safety:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Occupational Safety and Health-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Rabies Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Animal Handler & Vaccinator Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Wildlife Conservation-United for Wildlife

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