What is feline jaundice?

Jaundice is a medical problem in cats that can be caused by several different factors, but the basic symptoms are that the cat's skin will start to turn yellow in color. This is most noticeable in the inside flaps of the ears, where there is little fur to block your view. You may also see it in the eyes of the cat, and sometimes in the gums. It is also called icterus.


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What causes it?

Jaundice is caused by a chemical called bilirubin, which is present in the cat in excess amounts. This is the direct cause of the yellow skin color. There are several reasons why this chemical could be overloaded in your cat: First, liver problems can cause it. Feline liver disease can result in the destruction of liver cells and can also cause a build-up of bile in the liver. Second, blood problems. When red blood cells are destroyed for some reason, bilirubin is produced as a byproduct. One common blood problem is anemia in cats. Third, it can be caused by parasites such as fleas or ticks, who can cause blood issues with the cat by sucking out too many red blood cells. Fourth, gall bladder problems are also a potential cause, as they can lead to a build-up of bile. Finally, sometimes it can just show up as a symptom of any serious disease. The reason is that many of the most serious diseases in cats will cause general organ failures, and that can lead to jaundice by interfering with the liver or gall bladder.

Are there any other symptoms to jaundice besides yellow skin?

Yes - your cat may be acting sickly in general. Cat vomiting, lack of energy, feline diarrhea, breathing problems, and alterations in the appetite of the cat can all accompany jaundice. However, the yellow skin is the most clear sign as it is unique to jaundice and not generally caused by other medical problems.

What is the treatment?

Technically, there isn't one, because in cats it is considered a symptom and not a cause. It's sort of like asking if there is a treatment for coughing: if it is caused by something more serious, then you need to treat the cause and not the cough. Jaundice is almost always a sign of a serious problem, and you should always take the cat to the vet if you notice it. Your vet will then try to diagnose the underlying cause, and treating that cause will make the symptoms go away.

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