Cholecystitis in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment What cat parents should know about inflammation of the gallbladder or Cholecystitis

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Cholecystitis, or gallbladder inflammation, is a common illness in cats. Learn more in this article.

Cats frequently suffer from cholecystitis, which is an inflammation of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small organ located near the liver that stores bile, a digestive juice produced by the liver.

We will examine the causes, signs, and potential treatments for feline cholecystitis in more detail in this article.

Causes of Cholecystitis in Cats

The causes of cholecystitis in cats can include:

  • Blockage of the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine: This can arise as a result of gallstone formation or the presence of malignancies in the ducts.

  • Bacterial infections: Certain types of bacteria, such as E. coli, can infect the gallbladder and cause inflammation.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Cats with IBD may develop cholecystitis as a complication of the condition.

  • Trauma: If the cat has undergone surgery or suffered an injury to the abdomen, it may develop cholecystitis as a result.

  • Idiopathic: In some cases, the cause of cholecystitis in cats is not known.

  • Metabolic disease: Hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and obesity are metabolic diseases that increase the risk of cholecystitis.

  • Genetic factors: Some breeds of cats may be genetically predisposed to developing cholecystitis.

It's worth noting that cholecystitis can be acute or chronic. The former is caused by a sudden inflammation and the latter by long-term, recurrent inflammation.


The symptoms of cholecystitis in cats can include:

  • Abdominal pain: Cholecystitis in cats can cause pain or discomfort near the gallbladder in the upper right quadrant of the stomach.

  • Loss of appetite: Cats with cholecystitis may lose interest in food and may not want to eat.

  • Vomiting: Cats may vomit or regurgitate food due to the inflammation of the gallbladder.

  • Diarrhea: Some cats with cholecystitis may have diarrhea due to the bile flowing into the small intestine.

  • Jaundice: Cats with cholecystitis may have yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes due to the accumulation of bilirubin, a breakdown product of hemoglobin.

  • Fever: Some cats with cholecystitis may develop a fever due to the presence of an infection.

  • Lethargy: Cats with cholecystitis may be less active and more tired than usual.

  • Abdominal swelling: Cats may have a distended abdomen due to fluid accumulation.

It's worth noting that some of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, and a veterinarian should be consulted to determine the cause of symptoms and provide an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment Options

The treatment options for cholecystitis in cats can include:

  • Medications: Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics if there is an infection, and pain medication to relieve discomfort.

  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the gallbladder or to remove gallstones or tumors that are blocking the ducts.

  • Diet change: Cats with cholecystitis may be prescribed a special diet to reduce the risk of gallstone formation.

  • Fluid therapy: Cats with cholecystitis may receive fluids under the skin or into a vein to help prevent dehydration and support the liver and kidneys.

  • Monitoring: Close monitoring of the cat's condition, including blood tests and imaging, will be necessary to ensure that the treatment is effective and any complications are identified early.

  • Preventive measures: In cases where the cause is idiopathic or metabolic, preventive measures such as weight management, diet and lifestyle changes, and regular veterinary checkups can help reduce the risk of recurrence.

It's worth noting that the treatment will depend on the severity of the cholecystitis and the underlying cause. Your veterinarian will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your cat's specific needs.

How to Prevent Cholecystitis in Cats

Here are some ways to help prevent cholecystitis in cats:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity is a risk factor for cholecystitis, so it's important to keep your cat at a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.

  • Feed a balanced diet: Feeding your cat a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber can help prevent the formation of gallstones.

  • Keep an eye on liver enzymes: Regular blood tests can help detect any changes in liver enzymes, which may indicate the development of cholecystitis.

  • Avoid certain medications: It's crucial to discuss any medications your cat is taking with your veterinarian since some drugs, such as erythromycin, might raise the risk of cholecystitis.

  • Regular veterinary check-ups: Regular veterinary check-ups can help detect cholecystitis early and prevent complications from developing.

  • Prevent infections: Keep your cat's vaccinations up to date and take steps to prevent exposure to bacterial infections, such as keeping the litter box clean and preventing your cat from hunting or eating raw food.

  • Genetic consideration: If you are considering getting a cat, you may want to consider breeds that are less prone to cholecystitis, and if you already have a cat of a breed that is prone to cholecystitis, then you may want to be extra careful with their diet and weight management.

It's important to keep in mind that some of the causes of cholecystitis in cats may not be preventable, but taking steps to maintain your cat's overall health and well-being can help reduce the risk of developing the condition.

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