Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Your cat’s pancreas serves two main functions: it produces enzymes to help digest food and it secretes insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels. When the pancreas is inflamed, these two main jobs are inhibited and the enzymes that are supposed to be digesting food actually start to attack the pancreas and can cause significant harm.
How serious is pancreatitis in cats?
This disease is very serious and can be life threatening. It can also cause lifelong complications due to subsequent disease. In fact, pancreatitis often runs concurrently with other diseases such as diabetes, hepatic lipidosis, and inflammatory bowel disease in cats. In some cats, recurrent bouts of pancreatitis may also occur (i.e., chronic pancreatitis).
How can I tell if my cat has pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis can be difficult to diagnose in cats as symptoms are often mild and easy to miss. The most common symptoms are lack of appetite and lethargy; in more severe cases vomiting and diarrhea may occur. If any of these symptoms appear, you should take a trip to the vet. Unfortunately, the cause of pancreatitis in cats is largely unknown which means that prevention is difficult to pinpoint.
What can I do?
Finding a diet for your cat with pancreatitis may require some trial and error. At this time, an ideal dietary option for cats with pancreatitis has not been determined.
Unlike in dogs where a reduced-fat diet is recommended, high fat foods are not usually implicated in causing pancreatitis in cats.But, if your cat has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, there are a few different options that can be considered.
For cats with pancreatitis and concurrent diabetes, a reduced-carbohydrate diet may be recommended to help manage blood glucose levels. Although an ideal level of carbohydrates has not been definitively determined, we have several lower carbohydrate recipe options available. Our GO! CARNIVORE recipes for cats, particularly our GO! CARNIVORE Chicken, Turkey + Duck Recipe for cats, are lower carbohydrate options.
In frequent cases, inflammatory bowel disease is present or suspected alongside pancreatitis. In these cases, a novel or hydrolyzed protein recipe may be beneficial. This is because dietary allergens may play a role in both inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatitis. Our GO! SENSITIVITIES line for cats features recipes with single-source novel proteins such as duck.
If your cat has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, it can be a challenge to find a recipe that works best. We recommend working with your veterinarian to find the best option for your furry friend.
By: Natalie Asaro
Companion Animal Nutritionist at Petcurean, received both her BSc in Honours Biological Science and MSc in Companion Animal Nutrition from the University of Guelph.