Pancreatitis in Cats: An in Depth Look

Posted by Suzanne Grier on July 20, 2014 in Uncategorized |

How many of you prefer to have a cat than a dog at home? Because of the natural protective instinct of most parents, many drop the idea of getting a dog for a pet since the animal could hurt their children especially the very young ones. That is why many households with young children prefer a cat instead for their pet because cats are generally friendly with children. If you have a cat at home, perhaps you are already aware of some of the serious health conditions that can affect your pet. One of the condition is pancreatitis in cats.

The pancreas is an organ located near the stomach and the duodenum which is part of the small intestine. This organ produces insulin and pancreatic enzymes which are vital in sugar metabolism, nutrient digestion and fat absorption. Any inflammation in the pancreas could lead to acute or chronic pancreatitis.

Causes of Feline Pancreatitis

Multiple factors may contribute to pancreatitis in cats:

  • Prolonged use of certain medications including anti-cancer drugs and antibiotics
  • Having metabolic disorder like hypercalcemia where there is an abnormally high level of calcium in the blood
  • Trauma or surgery in the abdomen
  • Any condition that affects the flow of blood to the pancreas
  • Feline infections like toxoplasmosis and calicivirus
  • Any disease affecting the bile duct or small intestine
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Genetics as certain breeds like Siamese cats are more at risk of developing this condition

Symptoms of Feline Pancreatitis

  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Increased heart rate and change in breathing pattern


Treatment methods for feline pancreatitis normally vary depending on severity. However, the goal is normally to correct dehydration, control vomiting, prevent complications, provide pain relief and provide nutritional support. They may include:

  • Supplemental fluids by intravenous or subcutaneous route to prevent electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.
  • Pain relievers such as butorphanol or meperidine to give the cat some comfort.
  • For severe vomiting, certain medications are given. In addition, the cat is normally given small meals of low-fat and easily digestible bland food until the condition improves.
  • In some cases, appetite stimulants and vitamin B12 injection are also given to cats with severe loss of appetite.
  • To aid in digestion, supplementing pancreatic enzymes are added to their food.
  • For pancreatitis caused by a certain medication, such medication is normally stopped and an alternative treatment is given.
  • For causes due to any underlying condition, such condition is treated first.
  • In rare cases, surgery may be necessary.

Pancreatitis can progress into a life-threatening condition if not recognized and treated early enough. If the condition is mild, recovery may be fast. However, mild pancreatitis can easily progress to acute pancreatitis in a short period of time if no treatment is given.

Aside from pancreatitis, there are many other conditions that can affect your cat, from minor problems such as roundworms in cats to cancer. Knowing what these conditions are and how to prevent them allows you to help your cat stay healthy.

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