Pancreatitis in cats can actually be pretty common. So as cat parents, it’s good to know the symptoms so you can seek treatment for your cat as soon as you notice them.
Although small, the pancreas is an important organ that plays a big role in the health of your cat. If you think he’s developing any issues that can come from pancreatitis, you’ll definitely want to reach out to your vet ASAP for treatment options.
To find out the causes and symptoms of pancreatitis and what to do if your cat’s diagnosed, we spoke to Jackie Marvel, a vet nurse with DodoVet.
What is pancreatitis in cats?
The pancreas is a small organ that plays a significant role in your cat’s digestive system.
“Essentially, the pancreas produces enzymes to assist in digestion of food and helps regulate blood sugar,” Marvel told The Dodo. “When this organ becomes inflamed, it is known as pancreatitis.”
Pancreatitis in cats can occur spontaneously or due to underlying diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), diabetes or an infectious or parasitic disease (although this is rare).
“What’s frustrating is that in over 95 percent of cases of pancreatitis, there is no underlying cause,” Marvel said. “This can be difficult as there is no way for owners to prevent this from happening.”
“Pancreatitis used to be thought of as rare in cats, but it has been identified more frequently due to improvements in testing and diagnostics,” Marvel added.
Symptoms of pancreatitis in cats
As mentioned above, unfortunately, symptoms of pancreatitis in cats aren’t very straightforward, making it hard to diagnose.
According to Marvel, there are some signs of pancreatitis in cats that are consistent:
Treatment for pancreatitis
To treat pancreatitis, early detection is key. It’s also important to rule out other causes of the clinical signs.
“There is a specific blood test for detecting pancreatitis that can be run in house or sent to a laboratory,” Marvel said. “These tests look for markers specific to the pancreas but are not 100 percent accurate as [they] can miss mild or chronic cases of pancreatitis.”
If your vet thinks your cat has pancreatitis, mild cases can be treated with outpatient supportive care. This would involve some combination of the following: SQ fluids (fluids under the skin), anti-nausea medicines, pain meds, appetite stimulants and a bland diet.
A more severe case may require hospitalization, and following discharge, your cat will most likely be put on a prescription low-fat diet and given supportive care meds (pain meds and/or anti-nausea meds) while he continues to recover. Some cats who’ve had pancreatitis will be more prone to getting it again, while others will only have it once.
Vets will generally recommend all cats stay away from a high-fat diet after having a single bout of pancreatitis.
Is pancreatitis life-threatening for cats?
If treated early, most cats recover without any long-term consequences. However, pancreatitis can be life-threatening if it goes untreated and the case becomes severe. And if your cat continues not to eat, he could be susceptible to other health issues.
Paying close attention to your cat’s behavior is always a good idea. And in the case of pancreatitis, if he stops eating and seems more tired than normal, talking to your vet is advised. Here’s to a happy and healthy life for your cat!
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