Extrahepatic biliary obstruction (EHBO) was confirmed at surgery or necropsy in 22 cats. Biliary or pancreatic adenocarcinoma was diagnosed by histopathology in six cats and one cat had an undiagnosed mass in the common bile duct. The remaining 15 cats had at least one of a complex of inflammatory diseases including pancreatitis, cholangiohepatitis, cholelithiasis and cholecystitis. The most common clinical signs were jaundice, anorexia, lethargy, weight loss and vomiting. Hyperbilirubinaemia was present in all cases. Distension of the common bile duct and gall bladder was the most commonly observed finding on abdominal ultrasound. Nineteen cats underwent exploratory laparotomy for biliary decompression and diversion. Mortality in cats with underlying neoplasia was 100 per cent and, in those with non-neoplastic lesions, was 40 per cent. Long-term complications, in those that survived, included recurrence of cholangiohepatitis, chronic weight loss and recurrence of obstruction. Based on these findings, the prognosis for EHBO in cats must be considered guarded.