What is Pancreatitis in Cats and How is it Treated?

Just like humans, cats can also suffer from disorders that affect the pancreas. When thinking of pancreatic disorders, it is often diabetes that springs to most people’s mind’s first. However, another serious disorder of the pancreas is pancreatitis, and this is a condition from which cats can suffer. Here is all you need to know about what feline pancreatitis is and how it is treated.

What Are the Pancreas and Pancreatitis?

The pancreas is a small V-shaped organ. It is located behind the stomach and close to the small intestine. The function of this organ is to produce insulin and enzymes. These hormones regulate the levels of glucose in the body and help the body to digest and absorb fat.

Pancreatitis is the word used to describe inflammation of the pancreas. If the pancreas is inflamed, it begins to leak the enzymes that it produces. This then causes inflammation and pain in any areas of the gut that come into contact with the enzymes. In turn, the cat can then develop systematic infections or even multiple organ failures.

What Are the Symptoms of Pancreatitis?

The symptoms of pancreatitis are often vague and can be associated with many other conditions. Therefore, it is difficult to diagnose pancreatitis. Just some of the potential symptoms that a cat with feline pancreatitis may display include low body temperature, pain, weight loss, lethargy, dehydration, and loss of appetite. As the condition develops, the cat may display further symptoms. These include vomiting, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, and abdominal pain. In the later stages of the illness, the enzymes begin to digest the pancreas, and this is a life-threatening situation.

What Are the Causes of Pancreatitis?

In most cases, there is no way to identify what has caused pancreatitis. However, some factors that can potentially lead to pancreatitis include a parasitic infection, a virus, bacterial infections, diseases of the bile duct, a physical injury, irritable bowel syndrome, and some toxins.

How is Cat Pancreatitis Diagnosed?

Due to the symptoms of pancreatitis being so similar to those of many other conditions, pancreatitis is sometimes not diagnosed straight away as the symptoms may lead the vet to diagnose another condition. To diagnose pancreatitis, a vet needs to conduct a range of tests, including blood tests and a urinalysis. Another test they may do is a feline pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity test, or fPLI, as this is a specific test for pancreatitis. The vet may also do a scan of th4e cat’s abdomen.

How is Feline Pancreatitis Treated?

The treatment for pancreatitis is supportive rather than offering an immediate cure. The aim of providing treatment is to prevent further organ damage or complications and to relieve the pain and distress of the cat. This condition generally requires a stay in an animal hospital, so the vet can provide the treatment and monitor the cat’s condition. While hospitalized, the cat will usually be given fluids, either subcutaneously or intravenously, to replace the fluids they have lost. They will also receive treatment to reduce the pain and to control any vomiting. Some cats also need nutritional support, and this may be delivered via a feeding tube.

What is the Outlook for Cats Diagnosed with Pancreatitis?

If your cat has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, then one of your main concerns is likely to be what the outlook is for your cat. The prognosis of your cat depends entirely on the severity of the condition when they began to receive treatment.

For cats that only suffered mild pancreatitis and received treatment quickly, the prognosis is good and it is likely that the cat will make a full recovery. Cats that were suffering from moderate to severe pancreatitis may have recurrences of this condition in the future. In serious cases, a cat may develop chronic pancreatitis. This can potentially lead to pancreatic insufficiency or diabetes.

The prognosis is not so good for cats who already have diabetes or a range of other conditions, such as liver disease of small intestine disease. They are less likely to make a full recovery from pancreatitis and the condition could even be fatal.

Although there is no way to completely prevent feline pancreatitis, you can reduce the risk by keeping your cat healthy and feeding them a nutritious diet.

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