Pancreatitis is often seen in the animal’s world. Especially when it comes to domestic animals. Both dogs and cats can get pancreatitis, but there are a few key differences in how this disease manifests in each species.
But, if you are a current, or even a future, cat owner you should be informed about this condition, on what to look for, and also to have an insight on what the diagnostic plan from your veterinarian may require.
What Is Pancreatitis
The pancreas is a vital organ placed in the stomach, that lies on the right side of the abdomen. Its main function is to produce enzymes which further on can assist in food digestion and hormones such as insulin.
The pancreas can also regulate blood sugar or glucose metabolism. Those are the primary functions of the pancreas. On the other hand, when the pancreas becomes inflamed the condition is known as pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is common in felines.
There are no specific parameters when you can expect pancreatitis in your cat, as it can be seen in the cat of both sexes, in any age and also in any breed. It can even happen in pregnancy. Pancreatitis can come in two conditions, mild (edematous form), or severe (hemorrhagic form).
Inflamed pancreatitis allows digestive enzymes to spill into the abdominal cavity. What does it mean? It means that the result of this spill may be secondary damage to nearby organs, such as the liver, intestines, gall bladder and bile ducts.
There is even some cat that manages to recover from an acute episode of pancreatitis, but continue having recurrent bouts of pancreatitis. And this condition is known as termed chronic pancreatitis.
What Causes Pancreatitis in Cats?
Unfortunately, this condition is one of those where we cant actually determine what causes it. In more than 80% we never find out. However, we do have some idea of possible risk factors.
And some of possible risk factors include:
- Bacteria: There is a strong belief that there might be a link between pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Therefore, abnormal intestinal disease can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria, that can crawl up the pancreas. This bacteria can eventually lead to an infection
- Trauma: Falling from a great height or getting hit by a car
- Toxoplasma: Toxoplasma is known for being a form of a parasite or infection that can involve other tissues as well as pancreas. These infections are much stronger than eye infection
- Organophosphate: Organophosphate stands for insecticide exposure, although they are not commonly used in flea control. These insecticides are mostly available in garden and hardware stores. They also may be found in some flea collars
- Drugs: Although it is proven that use of drugs can lead to pancreatitis in dogs and humans, that’s not the case with cats. However, it is proven that with a cat with a history of pancreatitis, drugs should be used carefully, because they might be associated with pancreatic inflammation
What Are The Symptoms Of Feline Pancreatitis
Cats have this strong instinct of hiding when they are sick, or even when they are feeling bad. Cats with pancreatitis are no exception, and they would try even harder to hide it well. But, there are some fuzzy signs that are not making easier to realize that furry feline is ill.
Good to know: Pancreatitis in cats it’s not easy to diagnose.
Although it’s not easy to spot pancreatitis, there are some signs that allow you to get a hint that something is wrong with your feline. You should react if you notice just one of the following:
- Decrease in appetite: Cats are known for being extremely choosy when it comes to their diet. Therefore, if your cat refuses food it may be a sign of a serious underlying problem.
Refusing food is concerning for all pets, but for cats, it may be extremely dangerous. If a cat doesn’t eat, she must rely on her fat reserves for energy. But in order for stored fat to be used for fuel, the liver must process it first. In order for that to happen a proper amount of proteins must be provided
- Weight loss: If your cat lost an excessive amount of its normal body weight you should be concerned. Reasons for losing weight are diverse, and some of them may include anorexia, maybe even chronic disease or even a cat’s quality of food. Rapid weight loss can affect many of the cat’s body system, and can actually show the severity of the underlying medical condition.
- Diarrhea: This symptom is less seen in cats, especially that cats are so much about grooming. They are used to daily self-maintenance of cleaning itself from head to tail so you can miss any sign of diarrhea easily. This applies, especially in the early stages. Cats can lose their stool to a number of reasons, but the most common one is seen in parasites, infections, stress and metabolic diseases.
- Vomiting: Vomiting is not typical to cats. Therefore, you need to track your cat from the first sign of vomiting. Vomiting once is usually OK, maybe it was necessary for a cat to throw out something that was bothering her. However, if it happens more than once, you need to act and visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. Bear in mind that cat vomiting is not the same as cat drooling.
- Lethargy: This symptom explains weakness and lack of energy, and it’s extremely often for cat illnesses. It goes from slight (when your cat is not playful as usual), over moderate (when your cat is simply not interested in play and when she sleeps more than usual), to the extreme (when your cat can barely move and even has difficulties holding its head up)
Signs that Your Cat Needs to See a Veterinarian
- Your cat is hiding for days and avoids contact with people
- Your cat is lethargic
- Lethargy persists for two or more days
- Your cat lost her appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhea are present
How Is Pancreatitis Diagnosed?
Symptoms that cats are experiencing when they are suffering from pancreatitis are similar to symptoms of any other severe medical condition. So, in order to determine if your cat is suffering from pancreatitis or not, the veterinarian will likely perform an abdominal ultrasound and run multiple blood tests.
Laboratory tests are usually the only one that can say for certain the count of white blood cell, as well as enzymes in the blood.
However, in recent years laboratory tests evolved and the new pancreatic test was introduced to the market that is able to diagnose pancreatitis even if pancreatic enzyme levels are normal.
Also, radiographs can occasionally show inflammation in the pancreas or surrounding area, as well as ultrasounds. In addition, cats can hide a painful area even during these tests. Therefore, it is rather challenging to definitively diagnose feline pancreatitis, although it’s not impossible.
Good to know: Many cats with pancreatitis will have normal pancreatic enzyme levels.
Treatment of Pancreatitis
Firstly, bear in mind that there is no unique cure for this condition. Pancreatitis may be a fatal condition, but not necessarily. The outcome will depend on a number of different factors.
The usual treatment will include hospitalizes cat for several days, while the treatment may cost from hundreds to a couple of thousands of dollars. Some of the most common practices will include re-hydrating your cat with fluids, either IV or under the skin. Some drugs to boost appetite may be included, for a period of 7-10 days orally.
The first treatment steps are always avoiding surgery. During that period vomiting and nausea may be present.
If a cat with chronic pancreatitis also has an imbalance in gut bacteria, restoration of the gut microbiome via fecal transplant might be advisable.
FAQ On Feline Pancreatitis
How Can I Treat My Cat’s Pancreatitis At Home?
Keep with three basic steps that include dies, exercise and supplement. Feed your cat only with a natural and balanced diet. Avoid high grain content and fatty food. Get your cat to exercise daily bu chasing something or improvise to what it may be interesting to her at the moment.
Make sure that you get a list of supplements only from your veterinarian. That list will probably be created to support the digestive process.
Can A Cat Recover From Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis recovery depends on many factors. Firstly, it depends on how severe the disease is and what will the treatment include. If its mild pancreatitis the chances of a complete recovery are good. There are cats that can develop chronic pancreatitis, which can easily lead to diabetes.
Is Feline Pancreatitis Painful?
Opposite to dogs, cats do not show openly signs of pain or any physical disturbance. However, the only symptoms of a cat that suffers from pancreatitis are abdominal pain and vomiting.
How Long Does Acute Pancreatitis Last In Cats?
First 72 hours are crucial with pancreatitis. Within those hours you will know about your cat’s true condition and how it can develop furthermore. Mild cases and those that show slow, but steady improvement should be fine. However,m bear in mind that pancreatitis in cats is a disease that can be managed well, but not fully cured.
What Are The Symptoms Of Feline Pancreatitis?
The most common symptoms are:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Signs of fever