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posted: 2/28/2013 11:57 AM

Disease of the pancreas could be fatal to your feline

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  • Logan

    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

  • Snowball

    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

By Carmella Lowth,
The Buddy Foundation

Feline Pancreatitis is a disease in veterinary medicine that has received attention recently due to increased awareness and more available diagnostic tools.

Pancreatitis can cause many conditions throughout the body, including diabetes and respiratory distress. Also, fats in the body can break down due to pancreatitis and abnormal blood clotting can occur.

These more serious conditions only occur if the disease gets out of control, but usually pancreatitis is confined to the pancreas and liver.

The most common symptoms of the disease in cats are lethargy and loss of appetite. Loss of appetite can lead to hepatic lipidosis, triggering massive metabolic shifts in the body and fat uptake by the liver. Thus, it is very important to keep cats eating when they are sick -- even if this means force feeding.

What exactly causes pancreatitis is not known, but there appears to be a connection between inflammatory bowel disease, trauma, viral infections or insecticides.

The pancreas is a pale, pink glandular organ nestled just under the stomach, attached to the stomach and small intestine adjacent to the liver. It has two main functions: the production of metabolic hormones (such as insulin and glucagon, which regulate blood sugar) and production of digestive enzymes, which are secreted through a duct into the small intestine to digest food.

The normal pancreas has safeguards in place to keep its digestive enzymes securely stored. If these enzymes escape into tissue, they can begin to digest the body.

This is exactly what happens when the pancreas becomes inflamed. The enzymes escape and begin to digest the pancreatic tissue, which leads to further inflammation and enzyme release.

The tissue damage can then move to the adjacent liver. If the damage is extensive enough, toxins from these inflammatory processes can be released into circulation and lead to a body-wide inflammatory response.

Until recently, pancreatitis was difficult to diagnose, but new blood tests are available with results in 12 to 24 hours.

Treatments can vary, but usually supportive care and treating the symptoms are the best means by which to handle the disease.

Hopefully your cat can rally through an episode of acute pancreatitis and live a normal and happy life. Just beware of this disease and its ramifications.

Help us

The Buddy Foundation is in need of cat and kitten food, both dry and wet, and would appreciate anything you can send our way.

Featured cats

Logan and Snowball: Looking for a pair? Logan is a handsome young fellow with gorgeous black and white markings and captivating yellow eyes.

Logan must be adopted with his forever companion, Snowball. Logan is shy at first, but he loves to be petted and is very sweet -- he just needs a chance to get to know a loving owner.

Snowball is a beautiful flame-point siamese mix. He, like his brother Logan, is shy at first, but is very sweet and loves to be petted. He also has cataracts in his left eye, which he will need care from a loving companion.

• Contact The Buddy Foundation at (847) 290-5806; visit them at 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights; or online at

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