What Causes Pancreatitis in Cats?
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Feline pancreatitis is one of the most common diseases in cats and one that most often goes unnoticed. This is because it does not usually develop acutely, but chronically, making it difficult to recognise any symptoms.
In this AnimalWised article we're going to explain what pancreatitis in cats, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Keep reading to learn more about this feline disease.
What is pancreatitis in cats?
Pancreatitis in cats is the inflammation of the pancreas, a gland that is located near the small intestine (in fact, it is partly attached to it) and that fulfils several functions in the body of animals and humans.
On the one hand, it has an endocrine work, producing hormones such as insulin. On the other, it has an exocrine function, by which it is responsible for manufacturing substances that help digest food. The outcome can become lethal when the cat's pancreas begins to digest its own tissue.
Causes of pancreatitis in cats
Unfortunately, the exact cause of feline pancreatitis is unknown. However, there are certain health issues associated with pancreatitis in cats. They are the following:
- Ingesting poison
- Parasitic infection
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Cholangiohetitis (liver disease)
- Too much fat in their diet
Therefore, if your cat has too much fat in their diet or if they're suffering from any of the health issues mentioned above, they are exposed to suffering from pancreatitis.
Symptoms of pancreatitis in cats
Symptoms of pancreatitis in cats are usually acute and can go unseen, this is why we stress that if you ever see your cat experiencing any abnormal behaviour, it's best to take them to the veterinarian for a check-up. With that being said, the most common symptoms of pancreatitis in cats are:
Diagnosis of pancreatitis in cats
To diagnose pancreatitis in cats, the aforementioned symptoms need to be examined by your veterinarian. They will be asking you some questions about the symptoms. Afterwards, they'll need to do physical examination, emphasizing your cat's hydration status, their body's condition, the presence of abdominal pain and the color of the mucous membranes, which will be yellowish if they're suffering from jaundice.
To confirm the diagnosis, a blood test including specific markers is performed to detect pancreatitis. Blood tests are also helpful to know the general health state of the cat and of other organs that may be affected. In the case of pancreatitis, it will be the liver.
Ultrasound is far more useful than radiography in these cases, and can reveal the cat's inflamed pancreas, confirming the diagnosis. With this being said, your veterinarian will be able to choose the right examinations to properly diagnose your cat.
Treatment for pancreatitis in cats
Treatment will depend if your cat is suffering from acute or chronic pancreatitis. Acute feline pancreatitis poses the most serious risk and, therefore, nearly always requires hospitalization. On the other hand, chronic pancreatitis might require periodic hospital trips, however, it's usually manageable form home.
When at the hospital, the veterinarians will treat your cat with intravenous fluids to address any dehydration. These fluids will also detoxify your cat's pancreas from damaging inflammatory chemicals.
They may also be given antibiotics to minimize their risk of suppurative (infectious) pancreatitis. Hospital veterinarians will also provide your cat with pain relief and anti-nausea medication. It's very important to comfort the patient to help them regain their appetite.
Feeding your cat after being hospitalized
Feeding your cat after being hospitalized for pancreatitis is very important. Most veterinarians will advise that you feed them once home after being in the hospital to avoid vomiting and encourage their appetite. However, if your cat has other health issues, your veterinarian may encourage you to build up their appetite in a slower pace. Ask your veterinarian when at the hospital about how to deal with the recovery process at home.
When it comes to choosing what to feed them, it needs to be high quality and appetizing. Most cats opt for wet food, as they enjoy the flavour and it also helps to keep them hydrated. You should also remember that a natural feline diet is full of healthy fat and protein, so it's best to avoid grains and any heavily processed food.
If your cat is having a hard time eating and is still vomiting, talk to your veterinarian. They may prescribe antiemetics, which will help control nausea and vomiting, allowing your cat to regain their appetite. In severe cases, where a cat annot eat on their own, they will need to be hospitalized and fed through feeding tubes. Remember that whatever condition your cat is in, your veterinarian will guide you through their recovery.
Lastly, it's important to note that although severe cases of pancreatitis in cats require hospital and specialized care, most cases of pancreatitis are mild and non-threatening. However, in order to help your cat recover it's important to take them to the veterinarian as soon as we see any abnormalities. This way, we avoid whatever disease they are suffering from to advance and our furry friend is able to recover quicker.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
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