Feline pancreatitis is a disease that frequently affects cats, but can often go unnoticed. This happens because it usually occurs progressively, giving non-specific symptoms common to other diseases such as weight loss or lack of activity.

However, feline pancreatitis can also appear suddenly with very severe symptoms and jeopardize the life of our cat. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify it in order to act as soon as possible if it develops. Next, we talk about feline pancreatitis, its symptoms, and its treatment.

What is feline pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas that can affect cats of any age, breed, or sex.

The pancreas is an organ that is part of the digestive system and is close to the liver, leading to the small intestine through the common bile duct. It has an endocrine function (secretes insulin) and an exocrine part (produces digestive enzymes that go to the intestine to digest fats, proteins and carbohydrates).

There are two types of pancreatitis in cats, acute and chronic, depending on whether it occurs suddenly or is recurrent over time; being the chronic manifestation the most common in cats. In general, acute pancreatitis is a severe process and has a high mortality, while in the chronic form, the symptoms are moderate.

How is feline pancreatitis diagnosed?

Symptoms of pancreatitis are very nonspecific, but this disease should be suspected in animals with anorexia, lethargy, or vomiting of unknown cause.

Several tests must be combined for diagnosis:

  • Laboratory tests: blood tests and specific tests like fPLI.
  • Imaging diagnosis: ultrasound and/or radiography.

The definitive diagnosis that confirms that it is really treated is pancreatitis and determines the type, is the biopsy. However, this diagnosis requires general anesthesia and surgery to take the tissue sample and is only done in cases strictly necessary to avoid risks.

Treatment for pancreatitis

The treatment of feline pancreatitis depends on the severity of the process and can range from the simple administration of analgesics for pain and a specific diet in cases of mild chronic pancreatitis, to intensive care with emergency hospitalization in the most acute cases.

Treatment is supportive and is based on:

  • Pain control with analgesics.
  • Fluid therapy to rehydrate.
  • Control of nausea and vomiting with antiemetics.
  • Antibiotic therapy when necessary.
  • Nutritional management: the cat should eat again as soon as possible and, if it does not eat by itself after a few days, a forced feeding protocol will be started (feeding tubes or total parenteral nutrition).
  • Maintenance of body temperature in cats with hypothermia (it should always be kept above 37ºC).
  • Stress- free environment.


The prognosis for cats with pancreatitis varies depending on the general condition of the animal and the severity of the presentation of the disease.

If the cat shows mild symptoms, it is more likely to respond adequately to supportive treatment and recover. However, there are no guarantees that the process can be re-produced; inflammation of the pancreas can become chronic in certain cats.

When the cat develops severe symptoms (shock, hypothermia, low blood glucose levels, or even kidney failure) and its condition is critical, the cat requires hospitalization and prolonged therapy, in these cases mortality being high.


If the pancreatitis is severe or becomes chronic, the cat can develop secondary pathologies such as diabetes mellitus or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, because the functionality of the pancreas can be lost if there are a significant number of cells damaged by inflammation or fibrosis with the progression of the disease.

As we can see, feline pancreatitis can become a very serious disease that begins with apparently mild symptoms, so in the event of any suspicion of being unwell in our cat (loss of appetite, that is down or vomiting occurs), we should not wait and it is recommended to go to the vet as soon as possible.