Pancreatitis is one of the harder diseases to diagnose among cats, as the symptoms presented can appear the same as symptoms seen in other diseases. But if left untreated, pancreatitis can be fatal. It is important that if you see any symptoms that could be contributed to pancreatitis (or any other disease) in your cat, you take it to a veterinarian right away.
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Pancreatitis is a disease characterised by inflammation of the pancreas. It can be either acute---that is, the animal is sick for a time and then recovers with no recurrence of the disease, or chronic---in which the disease reoccurs months or years later after the first attack. The chronic form is seen more often in cats than in dogs. Unlike some feline diseases, pancreatitis is not associated with a specific age group.
While the cause of pancreatitis in cats is hard to determine and most times is not known, there are several things believed to be associated with pancreatitis. Severe trauma, such as that suffered from getting hit by a car or falling from a great height, is one of them. Feline distemper, Toxoplasma parasite infections, and organophosphate insecticides that are sometimes found in flea control products are other possible causes of the disease.
Visible symptoms associated with pancreatitis in cats can include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, possible fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and dehydration. Unlike dogs, most cats show only a few of the symptoms when they become ill. Most cats will present with lethargy, loss of appetite and dehydration, but some will also have a fever, diarrhoea or abdominal pain.
After a veterinarian runs a series of diagnostic tests and determines that a cat has pancreatitis (which is not always an easy thing to do), a treatment program can begin. Treatment includes intravenous fluids as well as blood and plasma transfusions, medication for pain and vomiting, and antibiotics if infections arise or if it is believed an infection caused the disease. A restrictive diet for several days may also be necessary and in some cases no food or water can be given for several days so the pancreas can rest from its normal duties of helping with digestion.
Cats with mild forms of the disease will often recover with the proper treatments. Some cats may have recurring outbreaks (if they have the chronic form of pancreatitis) and suffer from symptoms several days at a time. These outbreaks may or may not become serious. Cats with a severe form of pancreatitis that has already progressed to a point where the cat is exhibiting symptoms of shock may not respond well to treatment and may in fact pass away.
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