People and a wide range of pets can suffer from the condition known as “pancreatitis.” Pancreatitis isn’t just painful for cats, it can also be fatal. While much about cat pancreatitis is still a mystery, our understanding has grown over the years.
Most importantly, there are ways you can help avoid your cat suffering from pancreatitis and treat it if she does wind up with this condition.
As the name implies, pancreatitis affects a cat’s pancreas. This condition is technically an inflammation of the pancreas the results in pain and difficulty digesting.
What is the Pancreas?
This organ is positioned in a cat’s abdomen alongside the stomach. It helps a cat digest her food while producing hormones and enzymes. This narrow, pink organ helps your cat’s body process and regulate insulin.
Pancreatitis immediately disrupts the digestive process and leads to problems with the liver, intestines, and gallbladder.
Acute vs. Chronic Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis can occur in short stints or recurring appearances. Acute pancreatitis develops rapidly and lasts for a short period (days or weeks). Chronic pancreatitis results when a cat’s pancreatitis flares-up from time to time over months or years.
*Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatitis*
- Abdominal Pain and Discomfort
Pancreatitis causes cats pain where the pancreas is located and in the surrounding areas. If you pick up your cat and she cries out and hisses, she may have tummy pain and pancreatitis. Your vet can better identify if the pain is coming from your cat’s pancreas or another area.
- Weight Loss
Because cats with pancreatitis struggle to digest their food, they often drop weight. This is the result of vomiting, lack of appetite, and diarrhea.
- Vomiting and Diarrhea
Cats often throw up from the pain associated with pancreatitis. Pancreatitis also results in digestive issues that can cause a cat to vomit or experience diarrhea.
These can result in dehydration.
Not feeling her best, your cat will likely withdraw and not feel energetic and playful. She probably feels like you do when you have the flu. This can lead to your cat not feeling like eating.
Pancreatitis can cause your cat’s temperature to rise.
What Causes Pancreatitis in Cats?
Pancreatitis in cats is still quite mysterious. It usually results from prematurely activated enzymes in the digestive system. These enzymes travel through a cat’s digestive system and wind up in a cat’s pancreas, interrupting the digestive systems and causing the pancreas to digest itself.
Your veterinarian can diagnose your cat with pancreatitis by testing her blood and organ function. Your vet will look at your cat’s white and red blood cell counts and likely give your cat a pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity test. Many vets verify their findings with X-rays and ultrasounds.
Treatment of Pancreatitis in Cats
Cats can overcome pancreatitis with the help of your vet’s guidance. When a cat experiences acute pancreatitis, her pancreas needs to heal. This may mean your cat needs IV fluids instead of food. Pain medicine and antibiotics can help treat your cat’s symptoms and assist your cat’s body in healing. After your cat’s pancreas begins to heal, you can begin slowly giving your cat solid food, again in small portions.
Chronic flare ups of pancreatitis may require a long-term plan from your vet.
How You Can Help Prevent Pancreatitis in Your Cat?
One of the most difficult aspects of preventing pancreatitis in cats is that the cause of this painful disease is unknown. Keeping your cat at a healthy body weight can help support a healthy digestive system. We encourage you to talk to your vet about feline pancreatitis as well.
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