Pancreatitis in Cats

Pancreatitis is a condition of significant inflammation in the pancreas.  The pancreas is located nextPancreatitis in Cats to the stomach and the first part of the small intestinal tract.  The function of the pancreas is to release certain hormones into the blood stream and to release digestive enzymes into the small intestines.  When cats develop pancreatitis they will feel sick.  The 2 most common signs that occur in cats with pancreatitis are a decreased appetite and energy level.  Other signs that can occur, but with much less frequency, are vomiting and diarrhea.

Your cat will need diagnostic tests to determine what is wrong.  Part of the diagnostic evaluation will be to determine if there are conditions other then pancreatitis, such as liver disease, kidney disease, or gastrointestinal disease.  The signs that cats exhibit with pancreatitis are the same signs they will exhibit with other medical conditions.  A complete blood count, chemistry profile, andCats and Pancreatitis urinalysis will provide your veterinarian with a baseline.

An abdominal ultrasound allows your veterinarian to visualize all of the abdominal organs.   Ultrasound allows your veterinarian to determine if there are certain medical conditions, such as a tumor, diffuse intestinal disease, or pancreatitis.  With a quality ultrasound machine and skilled ultrasonographer this is an invaluable test to determine if there is pancreatitis.  Abdominal radiographs (xrays) are not useful in making a diagnosis of pancreatitis.

If your veterinarian suspects your cat has pancreatitis a feline pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity concentration should be measured.  The blood sample will need to be drawn after your cat has been fasted (no food) for 12 hours.  If the concentration is elevated that is diagnostic for pancreatitis.  This is the most reliable blood test for pancreatitis in cats.  Other pancreatic enzyme tests, such as the feline pancreatic trypsinogen-like immunoreactivity, lipase, and amylase, are not useful diagnostic tests to determine if a cat has pancreatitis.

Click here to learn about treatment options for cats with pancreatitis.

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Dr Peter Nurre

Peter Nurre, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (internal medicine) is a board- certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. His professional interests include internal medicine and cardiology.

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