Pancreatitis in Cats


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How is pancreatitis treated in cats?

Pancreatitis affects an internal organ called the pancreas. This condition can affect people, dogs, and even cats and is not only painful, but it can also be life-threatening.

There is still a lot we don't know about pancreatitis in cats, but fortunately, the knowledge base in the veterinary community has grown over the years, so there are things we can do to help prevent and treat this disease.

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is a condition or disease of the pancreas that literally means inflammation of the pancreas. This inflammation leads to a variety of problems that ultimately cause pain and digestive problems in cats.

The pancreas is located in the abdominal cavity of a cat's body next to its stomach. It is a thin, long, pink organ. It normally helps in the digestive process by producing various enzymes and hormones that help regulate insulin.

If a cat has pancreatitis, these normal functions can be affected and secondary problems can also occur in other parts of the abdomen.

Common secondary problems include problems with the gallbladder, liver, and intestines, due to the proximity of these organs to the pancreas.

Pancreatitis is generally referred to as acute or chronic, which respectively means that it occurred quickly and then lasts for days or has lasted for months or sometimes years.

Cats often experience acute pancreatitis, and this inflammation causes problems with the regular functions of the pancreas. Some cats that experience acute pancreatitis will also have regular flare-ups of pancreatitis, later known as chronic pancreatitis.

Symptoms of pancreatitis in cats

In cats, pancreatitis can cause a variety of symptoms.

  • Abdominal pain: If your cat has abdominal or tummy pain, she may scream, hiss, or try to move away if you try to pick her up or she seems to have difficulty getting comfortable when lying down. Your vet may also feel your cat tense if there is a tender or sore spot when he feels your cat's belly.
  • Vomiting: A cat can vomit for a number of reasons, and pancreatitis is no exception. Vomiting can occur due to abdominal pain or digestive problems secondary to pancreatitis.
  • Weight loss: Cats with pancreatitis often lose weight due to other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia.
  • Lethargy: Just like when we are not feeling well and we are not very active, a cat with pancreatitis will often be lethargic and will not want to move much.
  • Diarrhea: Since pancreatitis affects the pancreas, and the pancreas plays an important role in digestion, cats with pancreatitis often experience diarrhea.
  • Dehydration: If a cat with pancreatitis is lethargic, it may not want to drink a lot of water and may also have diarrhea. The combination of these two things can quickly lead to dehydration.
  • Fever: If there is inflammation in the pancreas, a cat will often have an elevated core body temperature.
  • Anorexia: A cat that is not feeling well, has abdominal pain and is vomiting usually does not want to eat much.
  • Death: This is, of course, an extreme response to pancreatitis, but if an attack of acute pancreatitis is severe enough, it can be fatal to a cat.

Causes of pancreatitis in cats

Surprisingly, very little is known about pancreatitis in cats. In other species, pancreatitis occurs when digestive enzymes (amylase, lipase, protease, etc.) produced by the pancreas are activated prematurely.

These enzymes are generally activated in the small intestine after exiting the pancreas through the pancreatic duct, but with pancreatitis, these powerful digestive enzymes are activated in the pancreas sooner than they should.

This leads to the pancreas itself being digested, rather than food in the small intestine, and causes inflammation as well as other symptoms.2 It can also occur with physical trauma to the pancreas. In cats, however, there is no known definitive cause of pancreatitis.


Apart from the physical symptoms, pancreatitis in cats is also diagnosed with the help of blood tests. Typically, a white blood cell count, red blood cell count, organ function tests, and a specific test called a feline pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (FPLI) test are performed. Your vet may also recommend X-rays and ultrasound.

It can be difficult to diagnose a mild form of pancreatitis in a cat. It is believed that many cats with chronic pancreatitis often go undiagnosed due to this difficulty.


Veterinary treatment is needed if a cat has acute pancreatitis. To allow the pancreas to rest and heal, oral foods will need to be stopped, so intravenous therapy will need to be started.

Antibiotics and pain relievers will also be given along with other medications to treat your cat's specific symptoms. Most cats will be hospitalized for several days while these treatments are administered.

Oral food will be slowly reintroduced as your cat begins to feel better and the symptoms of pancreatitis resolve.

If your cat has chronic pancreatitis, she may experience flare-ups of symptoms that can be severe enough to require veterinary intervention.

These outbreaks may also need symptomatic care at home, such as controlling vomiting, injecting fluids with syringes, and administering oral medications.

Is pancreatitis contagious?

Although no one knows exactly why pancreatitis occurs, we do know that pancreatitis is not a contagious disease. This is not something you need to worry about if you or another pet will contract.

How to prevent pancreatitis in cats

Pancreatitis is a painful and harmful disease, so if there are things that can decrease the chances of it occurring in your cat, it is a good idea to follow those instructions.

Since no one knows the exact cause of pancreatitis, your vet will be the best person to offer suggestions on what your specific cat needs to decrease the likelihood of pancreatitis.

They may suggest a specific diet or supplement that has been shown to support pancreas health in cats or to keep your cat at ideal body weight.

However, flare-ups of chronic pancreatitis, unlike acute pancreatitis, are something you should be able to manage and control. Watch for any signs of changes in food intake, activity, and bowel movements if your cat has previously been diagnosed with pancreatitis.

If your cat begins to vomit or shows abdominal discomfort, you should contact your veterinarian immediately to avoid further complications from diabetes mellitus and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Both diseases can be caused by uncontrolled chronic pancreatitis in cats due to damage to the pancreas.

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about What You Need to Know About Feline Pancreatitis

Source: Pet Health Network

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