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Cat Pancreas Disorders and Support

Photo of a cat laying down in bed, looking poorly, to represent cat pancreas inflammation, also known as pancreatitis.

Cat pancreas inflammation, or pancreatitis, is a common health condition in feline kiddos. Chronic pancreatitis is the most recurrent type in cats, which results in irreversible histopathologic changes. Acute feline pancreatitis, on the other hand, is generally characterized by reversible inflammation after removing the cause.

What are the clinical signs of pancreatitis in cats?

The pancreas produces enzymes essential for the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. When working correctly, these enzymes become active only when they reach the small intestine. In a cat with pancreatitis, they activate as soon as they’re released and begin to digest the pancreas itself, causing inflammation.

Interestingly, compared to people, where abdominal pain is considered a hallmark finding of the disease, cats with pancreatitis rarely present that symptom. Instead, cat pancreas inflammations usually cause nonspecific signs like:

The presence of one or more of these symptoms will help the veterinarian to categorize the severity of the disease. So it’s essential to keep your eyes out for any behavioral changes in your kitty. 

What causes pancreatitis in cats?

Most cases of cat pancreatitis are idiopathic, meaning it either arises spontaneously or the root cause is unknown. However, these risk factors have been identified in the veterinarian community:

  • Severe blunt trauma. 
  • Pancreatic hypoperfusion caused by anesthesia during surgery.
  • Infectious diseases such as Toxoplasma gondii, Amphimerus pseudofelineus, and feline infectious peritonitis
  • Many drugs, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, calcium, potassium bromide, phenobarbital, l-asparaginase, estrogen, salicylates, azathioprine, thiazide diuretics, and vinca alkaloids.

What are the diagnostic tests for cat pancreas disorders?

Accurate diagnosis of pancreatitis in cats requires the integration of the animal’s medical history and clinical findings. Depending on the cat’s symptoms, the following tests may be needed to rule out differential diagnoses:

  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Laboratory data (complete blood count, serum biochemistry profile, and urinalysis)
  • Cytology or histopathology 
  • Other additional diagnostic tests

What are the treatment options for pancreatitis in cats?

Photo of a cat looking sad to illustrate cat pancreas inflammation or pancreatitis.

For acute pancreatitis, treating potential causes is imperative. Fluid therapy, analgesics, antiemetics, nutritional support, and other symptomatic and supportive care are great examples.

On the other hand, managing chronic pancreatitis involves treating potential causes, diagnosis, and concurrent conditions. Analgesics, antiemetics, anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive treatments are commonly used in these cases.

How can I take care of a cat with pancreatitis?

It is often recommended that cats with pancreatitis stick to a diet with low to moderate amounts of fat and moderate levels of proteins and carbohydrates. Feel free to read more details on how to help manage pancreatitis with the right food here. Natural herbal supplements can be used alongside a balanced diet and vet-prescribed medication.