Copper Storage Hepatopathy in Cats How To Identify and Treat Copper Storage Hepatopathy in Cats

Copper Storage Hepatopathy in Cats Photo by Marko Blazevic:

Copper storage Hepatopathy is a liver disease found in cats. It is caused by excessive copper amounts in the liver cells. This article talks about how to identify and overcome this liver disease in cats.

Copper storage hepatopathy is a condition that affects the liver of cats. It is caused by the accumulation of excessive copper accumulation in the liver cells, which can lead to damage and inflammation.

In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for hepatic copper accumulation in cats.

Causes of Copper Storage Hepatopathy In Cats

Copper storage hepatopathy in cats is caused by the accumulation of excessive amounts of copper in the liver cells. The main causes of this copper accumulation include:

  • Dietary: Cats that are fed a diet that is high in copper, such as certain types of liver or certain commercial diets, are at risk for developing copper storage hepatopathy.

  • Genetics: Cats that have a genetic predisposition to copper storage, such as Bedlington terriers or Siamese cats, are also at risk for developing the condition.

  • Other causes: Less common causes include certain liver diseases or conditions like portosystemic shunts, Wilson's disease, and medication or toxins that increase copper absorption.

Even with genetic predisposition and diet, most cats will not develop the condition, and only a minority will develop it.


Clinical Symptoms

Copper storage hepatopathy can cause a wide range of symptoms, which may vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some common symptoms of copper storage hepatopathy include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) due to the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood.

  • Anorexia (loss of appetite) and weight loss

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Lethargy and weakness

  • Changes in behavior

  • Increased drinking and urination

In more severe cases, the condition can progress to liver failure and death. It's important to note that symptoms can be subtle and may not be apparent until the condition has progressed significantly.

Consult a veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms in your cat. A veterinarian will be able to diagnose copper storage hepatopathy and provide treatment options to manage the condition.


The diagnosis of hepatic copper accumulation in cats typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging studies.

Medical history

Your veterinarian will ask about your cat's diet, any medications it is taking, and any symptoms it has been experiencing.

Physical examination

Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination to look for signs of jaundice or abdominal discomfort.

Laboratory tests

  • Complete blood count and serum biochemistry can detect increased levels of liver enzymes and bilirubin, which are indicators of liver disease.

  • Urinalysis evaluates for any abnormalities.

  • Copper and ceruloplasmin levels can confirm the diagnosis of copper storage hepatopathy.


  • Ultrasound or radiographs are often used to further evaluate the liver and detect any abnormalities.

  • Liver biopsy: This can provide information on the extent of damage and the degree of inflammation.

These tests will confirm the diagnosis and will give your veterinarian a sense of the stage of the liver disease and what the next steps should be. While many of the tests can give an indication of the disease, a liver biopsy is considered the gold standard for the diagnosis of copper storage hepatopathy.



Treatment for this liver condition in cats typically involves a combination of dietary management, chelating therapy, and supportive care. The specific treatment plan will depend on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause of the copper poisoning.

  • Dietary management: Feeding a diet that is low in copper and providing appropriate supplementation to help lower the copper levels in the liver. Also, a high protein and low carbohydrate formula help a healthy urine system. Further, give your cat medications that improve overall liver function.

  • Chelating therapy: This involves administering a medication that binds to copper ions and removes them from the body. This treatment may include drugs such as D-Penicillamine or Trientine. Moreso, cats can use medications that are capable of treating liver infections.

  • Supportive care: In more severe cases, cats may require hospitalization and may require fluid therapy, anti-nausea medication, and other supportive care to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

  • Surgery: In some cases, liver surgery is considered when the underlying cause of copper storage is a congenital condition like portosystemic shunts.

The treatment may take months, and even with the treatment, the outcome may not be favorable. With prompt diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and close monitoring, some cats with excessive copper concentrations can recover and go on to live normal lives. In advanced cases, however, recovery may not be possible, and euthanasia may be the most humane course of action.

You should work closely with your veterinarian to develop the best treatment plan for your cat and to monitor your cat's progress throughout the course of the treatment.

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