Identify and Treat Feline Pancreatitis: Symptoms and Treatment

Learn Answers to Cat Health Questions About Pancreatitis and How To Care for Your Sick Feline

Feline pancreatitis is a serious disease that can be dangerous as well as painful for your cat.  This article discusses symptoms for feline pancreatitis, but other infections could cause similar symptoms. The first thing to understand is how to identify and treat feline pancreatitis.

Here are some key facts relating to this disease:

  1. What is pancreatitis? It is a swelling of the pancreas, an organ that produces digestive enzymes and hormones such as insulin. When the pancreas is swollen, the enzymes it produces can enter the surrounding abdominal organs. Ultimately, this can cause damage to the liver, intestines and other internal organs that are near the pancreas.
  2. What are the symptoms of pancreatitis? Feline pancreatitis can be hard to identify. While it is commonly marked by vomiting, not all cats display this symptom. Other cats may show signs of abdominal distress or fever, although these are symptoms of many feline health conditions. Two of the most common things observed in cats with pancreatitis are loss of appetite and lethargy.
  3. How is pancreatitis diagnosed? Since all of the symptoms of feline pancreatitis are associated with other diseases, the only way to be sure is to have your veterinarian perform blood work. While a basic blood and urine panel can show some enzyme irregularities, the only sure diagnosis comes from a test known as the Pancreatic Lipase Immunoreactivity test. Since many labs are not equipped to run this test, your vet may have to find a special facility.
  4. What causes pancreatitis in cats? Unfortunately, no one really knows. The condition does not appear to be genetic or caused by any specific triggers.
  5. How is this disease treated? If your cat is diagnosed with feline pancreatitis, your vet will need to monitor your pet closely to ensure there are no major complications requiring a different type pancreatitis treament. The swelling can be treated, as well as the nausea and loss of appetite. In addition, your cat may need to have fluid injections or IV treatment to prevent dehydration.
  6. In serious cases of feline pancreatitis, your cat may need to take no food or water by mouth. Since consuming food activates the pancreas, taking nourishment intravenously will allow the pancreas to rest.
  7. Since insulin production can be affected by feline pancreatitis, secondary problems such as diabetes can occur. If your cat has had multiple flare-ups, your vet may suggest regular blood work for monitoring. It is also common for cats with pancreatitis symptoms to suffer from depression, so if this is a concern, make sure to mention it to your vet.

Feline pancreatitis is a serious disease and can even be life threatening. Be sure to consult your veterinarian if you suspect this diagnosis. While some cats have chronic pancreatitis, many others have a single bout with the disease and recover fully.


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