Hypoproteinemia in Cats (Felis) | Vetlexicon
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ISSN 2398-2950

Synonym(s): Hypoproteinaemia, Hypoalbuminaemia


  • A presenting sign of lower than normal serum protein levels.
  • Cause: secondary to another primary disease process causing protein loss or decreased protein synthesis/availability:
    • Protein-losing enteropathy Protein-losing enteropathy.
    • Protein-losing nephropathy.
    • Impaired protein synthesis/absorption.
    • Protein deficiency/loss.
  • Signs: signs of primary disease process until chronic when generalized peripheral edema, pleural/abdominal effusion, weight loss, muscle wasting, cachexia.
  • Treatment: same as primary disease process.
  • Prognosis: same as primary disease process.

Presenting signs

  • History and clinical signs of primary causative disease process.

Chronic condition

  • Generalized peripheral edema.
  • Pleural effusion Pleural effusion.
  • Abdominal effusion - ascites.
  • Weight loss Weight loss.
  • Muscle wasting.
  • Cachexia.

Breed/Species predisposition

  • Same as primary disease entities.

Special risks

  • Surgery - wound healing severely impaired in chronic hypoproteinemia.
  • General anesthesia - thoracic/pleural effusions.



  • Same as primary disease process.


  • Primary disease process causes increased loss, reduced uptake or decreased availability of protein  →  reduced serum protein levels.
  • Decreased plasma protein  →  hypoalbuminemia  →  decreased plasma osmotic pressure  →  fluid transudation from capillaries  →  generalized peripheral edema and pleural/abdominal effusions  Effusion: overview →  pleural effusion/ascites  →  clinical signs.


  • Chronic condition before signs seen.


Presenting problems

  • Abdominal distention.
  • Respiratory difficulty/distress.
  • Weight loss.

Client history

  • Same as primary causative disease process.

Chronic condition

  • Weight loss.
  • Abdominal distention.
  • Respiratory difficulty/distress.
  • Muscle wasting/cachexia.

Clinical signs

Chronic condition

  • Widespread pitting/peripheral edema.
  • Ascites.
  • Pleural effusion.
  • Pulmonary edema Lung: pulmonary edema.
  • Progressive cachexia.
  • Dependent edema of extremities.

Diagnostic investigation




Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Moore L E (1998) Fluid therapy in the hypoproteinemic patient. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 28 (3), 709-715 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Ettinger S J, Feldman E C, Cote E (eds) (2017) Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 8th edn. St Louis: Elsevier.
  • Stockham S L, Scott M A (2002) Fundamentals of Veterinary Clinical Pathology. Iowa: Iowa State Press.