6 Causes of Feline Pancreatitis & 11 Symptoms To Watch Out For

Posted by Dr. Jessica on

6 Causes of Feline Pancreatitis & 11 Symptoms To Watch Out For

Although cats are remarkably resilient, they do get sick from time to time. One of the illnesses they can get is feline pancreatitis, a condition that may become serious or even life-threatening if left untreated. Here is a guide for what causes pancreatitis in cats and how pet parents can help improve cat health if their cat becomes ill.

What Is the Pancreas?

The feline pancreas is a slender v-shaped organ connected to the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine. This small organ plays a big role in releasing digestive enzymes to break down food. The pancreas also releases insulin to help with healthy energy and blood sugar levels.

What Is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatic enzymes are only activated once they reach the small intestine. However, when these enzymes activate inside the pancreas, pancreatitis develops. This causes inflammation in the organ because the cat’s own enzymes are digesting its pancreas tissue.

What Causes Pancreas Issues?

Pancreatitis doesn’t always have an obvious cause. The most common triggers include:

  • Pesticides or other toxins
  • Parasitic infections
  • Feline diabetes
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Infectious disorders
  • Medication reactions

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatitis?

Cat health symptoms aren’t always obvious. Pet parents may have reason for concern if their kitty doesn’t play, eat, drink, or use the bathroom the same way they normally do. While only a vet can confirm if a cat has pancreatitis, pet parents should be on the lookout for unusual symptoms. Early action can help reduce long-term cat health issues.

Potential signs and symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Yellowish tinge to eyes, gums, and skin
  • Weight loss
  • Refusal to eat
  • Depression
  • Fast heart rate
  • Breathing troubles
  • ‌Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Cats can experience acute pancreatitis if their symptoms come on suddenly. Some cats get a mild case and don’t show noticeable symptoms, so pet parents may think their kitty is having an off day. Other cats may develop a severe case and may go into shock, physically, from the internal bleeding of the enzymes dissolving their internal organ.

Acute pancreatitis can lead to chronic pancreatitis when the pancreas gets inflamed over and over. This repeated inflammation can scar the pancreas and inhibit its normal function, which may lead to a domino effect of other more serious health issues.

What to Do for Suspected Feline Pancreatitis

Pet parents may wonder, “What do I do if my cat is sick.” The best course of action is for pet parents to chat with a vet if they suspect their cat may be ill or showing signs of pancreatitis. A vet will need to perform a hands-on examination and take some blood samples to officially diagnose pancreatitis. They may order a biopsy or ultrasound as well.

Once a cat gets proper care, they need continual at-home treatment until they feel well and are back on their feet. Hydration is important for recovering cats, so pet parents should ensure their cats get enough water. Pet parents should follow all directions the vet provides, including dietary changes, medications, and a healing timeline.

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