Pet Health: Pancreatitis in Cats   Pet Supplies



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What is Pancreatitis and how does it relate to diabetes?

The pancreas is an internal organ that lies by the stomach in a cat.† It has very important hormonal functions, including release of insulin in response to eating.† Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and can interfere with insulin production resulting in diabetes mellitus.† Sometimes when the inflammation stops, the pancreas will function properly again, but it can also permanently lose its function.

Inflammation can reduce the blood flow to the pancreas and damage the pancreatic cells.† When damage takes place, pancreatic enzymes are released and begin breaking down the fat in other adjacent tissues. Possible results are bleeding, shock, endotoxemia (bacterial toxins in the bloodstream), and death.† In humans, pancreatitis can be very painful and it may be in cats, too.

There are three main forms of pancreatitis: acute, chronic, and traumatic.

Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is relatively uncommon in cats and the causes are uncertain.† It has been theorized that acute pancreatitis can occur in obese cats that get little exercise and may have eaten a meal with high fat intake. Viral infections may be responsible for the inflammation, too. Steroid administration for other disease processes has been implicated in the production of acute pancreatitis. Clinical diagnosis is aided by the veterinarianís intuition and experience along with the clinical history, examination, and appropriate laboratory studies. A cat that has had an episode of vomiting, fever and anorexia that responds to supportive care in forty-eight to seventy-two hours may indeed have had acute pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis can be a difficult diagnosis to make.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis usually results from recurrent bouts of acute pancreatitis. It is often subclinical (symptomless) in cats.† Chronic pancreatitis may lead to diabetes mellitus and digestive hormone insufficiency.† According to the Cornell Book of Cats, the typical signs of maldigestion caused by digestive hormone deficiency are extremely rare in cats. Pancreatic insufficiency that causes a large decrease or near absence of the digestive enzymes that break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins may cause malnutrition.

Traumatic Pancreatitis

This is usually caused by an injury to the pancreas caused by accidents such as being hit by an automobile, or falling from a great height. The trauma or injury to the pancreas allows leakage of the enzymes into the surrounding tissues and abdomen, resulting in same clinical picture as in acute pancreatitis.

Last updated 12/04/2004 


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