Liver disease in cats is notoriously difficult to diagnose. This is because the symptoms are often very vague, including lethargy, loss of appetite and weight loss- all symptoms that can have a range of causes in cats. More obvious signs include jaundice and unusual levels of thirst, so always see a vet for any of these symptoms.

Veterinary ultrasound may hold the key to quick and correct diagnosis of liver problems, which could extend life and even save the lives of many of our feline friends. 

The scan is done on the right side of the cat to try and get the best view of the liver. The cat is shaved prior to the scan, at the examination site. This is because ultrasound waves don’t transmit properly through the air. Hair and fur trap small amounts of air as this is one way it keeps the animal warm. By shaving the area, this minimises any air between the ultrasound probe and the liver, making the scan much more effective.

The ultrasound will show up other internal organs, such as loops of bowel and the gall bladder, showing how effective veterinary ultrasound can be for a variety of medical diagnoses. Ultrasound allows the entire liver to be examined all the way through, to search for any worrying abnormalities. 

A cooperative cat won’t need any kind of sedation or anaesthetic prior to an ultrasound scan. The process is completely painless and usually fairly quick, so a patient cat will normally only need to be restrained gently. A more anxious animal may need a chemical sedative, and this is something a vet will discuss with the owner.

Vets will normally take blood and urine tests too, however the ultrasound is particularly useful as it allows the vet to confirm if the size and structure of the liver is as it should be- something which is impossible to tell via a blood test. Ultrasound can also tell if there is any obstruction to the flow of bile.

Using ultrasound to replace a traditional biopsy means less invasive surgery for the cat and a quick, accurate diagnosis- peace of mind for both owners and pets.