Your cat’s pancreas, located on the right side of his abdomen next to his stomach, produces enzymes to help in the digestion of food.
It also produces hormones such as insulin to regulate blood sugar levels and the body’s glucose metabolism. If the pancreas becomes inflamed the condition is called pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis can occur in cats of all ages, breeds, and in both genders. Cats can have an acute episode of pancreatitis or recurring bouts that result in chronic pancreatitis.
If your cat recovers from pancreatitis there are some steps you can take to help him eat properly. We can help you choose the best cat foods for pancreatitis in cats.
Quick Links: Our Top 5 Picks for Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis
- Best Overall: Holistic Select Chicken Pate Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food
- Best Affordable: Newman’s Own Organic Grain-Free 95% Turkey & Liver Dinner Canned Cat Food
- Best Diet for Cats with Pancreatitis: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Formula Canned Cat Food
- Best Commercial Cat Food for Pancreatitis: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie Canned Cat Food
- Best for Sensitive Stomach: Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food
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Causes of pancreatitis in cats
Your cat’s pancreas can become inflamed for several possible reasons.
- Abdominal trauma
- Adverse drug reactions
- Concurrent liver disease or inflammatory bowel disease. Unfortunately, it’s quite common for cats to have a combination of inflammatory disease of the pancreas, liver, and intestines. If your cat is diagnosed with one of these conditions, he may have one of the other problems as well.
- Diabetes mellitus. Again, this condition has become very common in cats today and it can lead to pancreatitis.
- Exposure to organophosphate pesticides
Although it is rare, stings from scorpions are also suspected to be a cause of pancreatitis in cats. The scorpion’s venom can produce a reaction from the pancreas and subsequently cause inflammation of the pancreas. Fortunately, scorpions are not common in most geographical areas.
While dogs can get pancreatitis from nutritional causes such as eating large amounts of fat in the diet this is not true with cats. In many cases when a cat develops pancreatitis there is no obvious reason for the inflammation.
Pancreatitis can occur in any kind of animal but it seems to have with more frequency in cats. The Siamese cat, in particular, seems to be more prone to pancreatitis. Female cats and older cats also seem to be more likely to have problems with pancreatitis.
Since the pancreas produces both digestive enzymes and hormones it is part of both the digestive system and the endocrine system. When it becomes inflamed, the flow of enzymes to the digestive tract stops and they can be forced into your cat’s abdominal area instead.
When this happens the digestive enzymes start breaking down the fat and proteins in your cat’s organs, along with the pancreas.
Your cat’s body is basically starting to digest itself. The kidneys and liver can be especially affected when this happens because they are close by.
Your cat’s abdomen usually becomes inflamed and can become infected. In some cases the pancreas can bleed which leads to shock. If this occurs your cat can die.
Pancreatitis can progress very quickly in cats but it can also be treated without causing permanent damage to the pancreas.
On the other hand, if the inflammation of the pancreas goes without treatment for a long time it can lead to severe organ and even brain damage as well as death.
Symptoms of pancreatitis in cats
Cats with pancreatitis can have a variety of symptoms.
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
What kind of diet should you feed a cat with pancreatitis?
As we mentioned, pancreatitis in cats is not the same as pancreatitis in dogs. Nutritional factors are not believed to be at play so feeding your cat a low-fat cat food will not prevent pancreatitis; and it’s not necessarily prescribed for cats if they have survived a case of pancreatitis.
However, eating a healthy diet and keeping your cat fit are recommended as long term goals. Weight management is a good idea for all cats so they do not become overweight or obese.
If your cat is recovering from pancreatitis you must make sure that he stays fully hydrated.
This is important for cats at all times but especially while your cat is recovering from an attack of pancreatitis.
It’s important to make sure your cat eats while he is recovering. This may seem obvious but cats are not always cooperative when it comes to eating. A cat that doesn’t eat can develop a disease called hepatic lipidosis. Hepatic lipidosis, or “fatty liver,” is a common but severe liver disease in cats.
The condition is usually a consequence of another illness but if it’s not reversed quickly it can obstruct your cat’s liver function and lead to deadly consequences.
If your cat refuses to eat your veterinarian may use a feeding tube. You could also talk to your veterinarian about giving your cat an appetite stimulant.
When your cat is recovering at home you can feed him anything he will eat. Canned/wet cat foods are recommended as the best cat foods for pancreatitis.
You can even give your cat foods that are high in fat because it’s so important for him to keep eating at this stage of his recovery.
What to look for when choosing cat foods for pancreatitis
When you are choosing the best cat foods for pancreatitis after your cat has recovered, you can look for the following:
- Choose cat foods that are easy to digest;
- Look for cat foods that have moderate protein levels;
- Look for proteins that your cat hasn’t eaten before or which are hypoallergenic;
- Choose foods with moderate fat levels;
- Canned cat food is preferred unless your cat will only eat dry cat food.
You don’t have to choose a prescription or veterinary diet for your cat but this can be an option to consider. Since many cats with pancreatitis also have IBD and/or liver problems, or diabetes mellitus, you may find yourself forced to feed a prescription diet.
Ideally the cat foods you consider will come from companies that have veterinary nutritionists on staff.
Look for companies that have good quality control measures. It’s also a good idea to look for companies that invest in nutritional research for cats.
Best Rated Foods for Cats With Pancreatitis Reviewed
Holistic Select Chicken Pate Recipe Grain Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food is made for cats with sensitive digestion. It’s grain free with no corn, wheat, or soy. This food does contain prebiotic support for your cat’s digestive system along with botanicals and premium proteins for natural nutrition.
Natural fiber and digestive enzymes help your cat digest the food better. Probiotics are included to stimulate the growth of bacteria in your cat’s gut and increase nutrient absorption.
Also Read: Best Probiotics for Cats
Newman’s Own is one of the few organic brands of pet foods. This formula – Newman’s Own Organic Grain Free 95 % Turkey & Liver Dinner Canned Cat Food – contains real organic turkey, turkey liver, and turkey broths as the first ingredients.
This is a complete and balanced food (meets AAFCO requirements) for your cat and it’s suitable for all life stages. This food contains no grains – no wheat or corn – and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. This formula is made for cats with sensitive digestion.
This is our choice for the best cat food for pancreatitis. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Feline Formula is a prescription formula that is designed to support your cat’s digestive health. It contains highly digestible nutrients such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which help your cat recover from illness and repair tissue.
This formula is high in protein, low in carbohydrates, with moderate fat. This gastrointestinal formula also features prebiotics and low fiber to support intestinal health.
Very palatable, it should encourage your cat to eat. This Purina Pro Plan recipe states that it is made for cats with pancreatitis, among other diseases of the intestinal tract. One of the best cat foods for pancreatitis.
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie Canned Food is a prescription cat food formulated to help your cat maintain a healthy weight. This food provides a combination of easily digestible proteins and prebiotics to maintain a balance of good bacteria in your cat’s gastrointestinal system.
It also has a blend of dietary fibers to help support healthy digestion for good stool quality. Add in omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA from fish oil to soothe and nourish your cat’s digestive system and your cat will have a happier eating experience.
With moderate calories, this food is also a good choice for cats recovering from pancreatitis.
Cats that have digestive problems, including a lack of digestive enzymes and those that are recovering from pancreatitis, need a cat food that is easy to digest. Good digestion is important so your cat can build and repair tissues and obtain energy.
Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food is a good choice for cats that are recovering from gastrointestinal upset. This formula was developed by nutritionists and veterinarians to help manage cats with digestive health problems.
The protein and fat are easy to digest so your cat can absorb nutrients better.
A mixed fiber source helps maintain gastrointestinal health. An ideal balance of nutrients helps the body recover. The recipe is also very palatable so your cat will be encouraged to eat.
Pancreatitis is a serious health issue. The symptoms can be vague and you may not notice them at first. As soon as you think there might be something wrong with your cat you should see a veterinarian. This illness can be life-threatening in many cases.
Fortunately, it can often be successfully treated. There are no firm requirements for how to feed your cat after he has had pancreatitis but the best cat foods for pancreatitis generally focus on helping your cat maintain a good, healthy diet and watching his weight.