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.
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 foods for cats with pancreatitis Reviewed
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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.