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Dr. Geri Katz

Pancreatitis in Cats: They won’t tell you about the belly ache

The Patient

Lou, a 10 year old male neutered Domestic Short Hair cat came to me because his owner said he “just wasn’t himself.” I asked her to describe his symptoms and she told me that while he was eating something, he wasn’t eating with his usual gusto. He also wasn’t sleeping with her at night like he usually does. She had been to another vet and she said they did blood work and “nothing showed up.” I suspected pancreatitis in cats was the culprit.

The Diagnosis: Pancreatitis in Cats

Pancreatitis is, by definition, an inflammation of the pancreas. It causes a very painful belly ache and makes cats feel just awful. Sometimes they can even have pain in their hind legs because of it.

The Cause

No one knows exactly why cats get it, but some veterinary specialists speculate that it may be caused by diet that secretly does not agree with them. Cats can suffer from acute pancreatitis, which can be like a one-time deal of being sick and then recovering. More commonly, cats suffer from low grade chronic pancreatitis which can look like:

  • “My cat has always been a picky eater”
  • “My cat just vomits for no reason and then goes back to eating”
  • “My cat poops little pebbles”

All of these symptoms can be warning signs that the cat may be suffering from pancreatitis. A cat with chronic pancreatitis can have flare-ups that look like acute pancreatitis in cats.

The Treatment

The treatment for pancreatitis depends on the age of the cat and the severity of symptoms, but usually includes pain medications and anti-inflammatories. Sometimes a diet change will be necessary, as well. The trouble with diagnosis is that there may be nothing unusual with the routine blood work, and requires some detective work. Most cats recover fully within a week of diagnosis, but for some cats it can take much longer and some cats need to live on medication to prevent or minimize a recurrence. Unfortunately some cats get it so bad that they can die from it, but fortunately this is very rare.

The Outcome

After about 10 days on medication, Lou was back to eating with his usual gusto and snuggling with his mom at night!

Is your cat just not acting like his happy, normal self?

At Aristokatz, we love our feline patients and love solving their medical mystery. They love coming to see us because they always feel better afterward, PLUS there are no scary, barking dogs to be seen, or heard!

Contact us to see if we can help

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