Your cat’s pancreas is a busy little organ. It produces valuable digestive enzymes and critical hormones like insulin. Unfortunately, it can become inflamed, which results in a condition known as cat pancreatitis. This inflammation can be sudden (acute) or ongoing (chronic).
Acute pancreatitis comes on abruptly, but with rapid, often aggressive, treatment, acute pancreatitis can be reversed and results in little-to-no permanent damage to a cat’s pancreas.
Cats with chronic pancreatitis, on the other hand, will experience ongoing inflammation and, most likely, irreversible damage.
Cat Pancreatitis Symptoms and Diagnosis
If you’re an experienced cat owner, you know that our feline friends hide their symptoms of illnesses and injuries to the best of their abilities, which can make it challenging to identify changes in pet health or behavior.
Additionally, pancreatitis is a complex condition, and its symptoms are often vague or mimic signs of other illnesses. Contact us right away if you notice the following:
- Loss of appetite/no longer drinking
- Weight loss
- Tenderness in the abdomen
- Restlessness, trembling, or hunching up
- Labored breathing
Is Cat Pancreatitis Treatable?
When we suspect or diagnose pancreatitis, we will create an individualized treatment plan that takes into account the severity of your cat’s pancreatitis and the presence of other health conditions. If your cat has a mild or moderate case of pancreatitis, the condition will often resolve with treatment. Cats with chronic cases require ongoing management and care.
- IV fluids
- Analgesics (pain killers)
- Anti-nausea medication
- Antibiotics for secondary infections
- Nutritional support
- Appetite stimulants
- Vitamin B12 injections
- Management of concurrent diseases, such as diabetes
Reducing Your Cat’s Risk
Cat pancreatitis cannot be completely prevented, since the exact cause of most cases is a mystery. Suspected causes are physical injury to the cat’s abdominal area, adverse reactions to medications, ingestion of poisons, and parasitic infections. Cat pancreatitis also may co-occur in cats with diabetes, IBS, or pancreatic cancer.
Annual wellness visits coupled with age-appropriate diagnostic tests are the keys to optimizing your pet’s health and can help us catch disease processes early on when they may be easier to treat. Other measures that can guard against cat pancreatitis include:
- Do not treat your cat with non-prescribed medications.
- Keep her away from pesticides (particularly organophosphates).
- Feed your cat a healthy diet and make sure she stays at a healthy weight.
- Do not feed her high-fat table scraps.