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Pancreatitis in cats

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello, Everyone

       Last autumn, after weeks of my cat, Izzy, gagging and throwing up several times a day, I finally realized that he needed to get to the vet.  I thought he had a huge hairball stuck in his throat or something so wasn't that worried.  But, that was not the case.  After a blood test, my vet said he had pancreatitis, a potentially very dangerous illness in cats.  He was immediately given an anti-emetic shot and put on Hill's Prescription Diet i/d for feline gastrointestinal health.  Now, about six months later, I'm happy to say that everything has cleared up--no more gagging or throwing up.  A blood test next month will tell us for sure.  I was very, very worried about him.  The reason I'm writing this is to bring this condition to everyone's attention.  I didn't get him to the vet earlier because, as I said above, I thought it was a hairball.  I'm so glad I finally got him to the vet because leaving this condition untreated can cause liver or kidney failure and possibly death.  I don't know what I would have done had he died.  So, if you have a cat that is doing a lot of gagging, with no hairball being coughed up, along with vomiting, please don't hesitate to get him to a vet, as it could be pancreatitis.

       I don't in any way resent having to spend money on the health of my cats, but this turned out to be very, very expensive.  In addition to the visits to the vet, and the bloodtests and shot, the Hill's diet is very expensive--$33 for an 8-lb bag.  So, if you think this might be a problem with your cat and you can get your cat to a vet early on, you might be able to keep costs down a bit.

       In discussing with my vet what might have caused the pancreatitis, she said it is usually caused by what they eat.  Since my cats never get any scraps or anything, it had to come from either their dry food or their canned food.  I was feeding them Iams dry food, but I did also give them each half a small can of Friskies each day.  Mind you, I'm not saying that either of them was the cause of the illness, but I've certainly decided not to give them that same diet again.  I think I will go with Science Diet from now on and stick with only dry.  I feel that that is the safest.  A bit expensive, yet, but I think worth it in the long run.

       I hope that what I've written might alert anyone to this problem so you won't have to deal with a very sick kitty.

       Best Regards to Everyone, Barbara        

post #2 of 10

Thank you for the information Barbara. I'm glad your little fella is doing better!


I didn't know that pancreatitis was known to be usually caused by diet. Did your vet say what in a diet can cause it?


Also, how old is your boy?




Found this "




Some causes of pancreatitis include toxoplasmosis, hyperlipidemia (high fat content in the blood), hypercalcemia (high calcium content in the blood), feline herpesvirus I, feline infectious peritonitis, feline parvovirus, obesity, certain drugs, high fat diet, hepatic lipidosis, trauma (car accident, high fall). In most cases (around 90%), the cause cannot be determined (idiopathic).


Since I feed a homemade diet the highlighted parts are of particular interest to me!


Thanks again for bringing this to our attention.

post #3 of 10

Oh actually too I wanted to mention that pancreatitis can be very much caused by diet and food allergies but also by bacterial infections and inflammation to other organs like the liver, kidneys, small intestines, etc.

post #4 of 10

Thanks for sharing.  I sometimes feel unsafe for any food that my cats eat.  I really don't know what is the best food any more. 

Science diets has longer history than other brands, and many cats seem to live healthy long life on it (many others probably didn't).   

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello to everyone:  Regarding what causes pancreatitis, from what I understand from my vet is that it is fats in cat food that are the main culprit.  I didn't go into it much with her when Izzy was first diagnosed, only knew that the "cure" was this change to the prescription cat food.  She also told me not to give him any of the commercially sold treats, or milk, which he liked and wanted all the time.  I stopped giving him everything other than the prescription food and the vomiting stopped within about a week.  The vet told me that if the vomiting didn't stop early on, then we had to think about possible complications, such as kidney or liver involvement.  I spent my time wishing so hard that that wouldn't happen, and was so happy when he stopped vomiting.  Now I'm nervous about giving him anything other than the prescription food, and when that is gone will try Science Diet, hoping against all that the pancreatitis won't come back again.  Left untreated, it can morph into other very serious conditions and sometimes be fatal.  This is about all I know about it.

       To your question of how old he is--he is 6 and 1/2 years old, so really quite young.  My advice to anyone whose cat starts vomiting:  take him to a vet as soon as possible.  Here's hoping that all your cats stay healthy and live long lives.  Since we all love our pets so much, I think we tend to want to give them all the treats, etc.  But, now I'm thinking that this might be the worse thing we can do for them.  Again--when in doubt, talk to your vet.   

post #6 of 10

If high fat diet could cause pancreatitis, is any canned food safe?  Most canned foods have higher fat than dry for some reason.  Nature's variety canned all have fat higher than 30% DM...

post #7 of 10

Now I'm confused.  I just checked the fat content of iams and friskies.  Both are comparatively low in fat....

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Not all cats are going to get sick from eating either Iams or Friskies or any of the other cat foods out there.  I'm sure there are thousands who eat them every day and who don't get sick.  On the other hand, some cats are probably just more sensitive to what they eat.  I knew nothing about any of this until Izzy got sick.  I thought I was doing all the right things for him, but evidently he is one of the more sensitive cats.  His brother, Pinky, who ate exactly the same diet, has never had any problems.  The only one, really, who can give you the best advice about what to feed your cat is your vet.


post #9 of 10

We have a recently adopted cat, 3 yrs old, female, who was rushed into the vet's last week after two days of what we thought was a fur ball, which turned out to be pancreatitis.


I have nothing to add to the original post regarding what the vet said about the condition.


My concern is about fat in the cat's diet.  I've done a lot of sports over the years and am pretty well versed in the do's & dont's of nutrition.  As with humans, a cat's diet must contain natural fats in order for the body to function.  That is, fats that have NOT been messed with by heating to high temp (hydrogenated), because as soon as this is done the fat becomes indigestible. It's not fat per se which is the problem, it's too much of the wrong kind of man-made messed about with fat.  My vet tells me that feline pancreatitis is on the increase, which suggests to me that the wrong kinds of fats are finding their way into commercial cat food.  Unfortunately, it's impossible to know, because there is no requirement in the UK to label cat food ingredients in this way.


Prior to the flare-up, she was on Whiskers and had been for a month, at the cat's home.  We kept her on this diet and added IAMs, to which she had an immediate bad reaction, throwing up the entire meal 10 mins after eating.  So no more of that!  The suggestion is then, that it must be the Whiskers, even though she ate it for a month without reaction.  Vet has suggested replacing this with James Wellbeloved biscuits and Royal Canin wet food, which we will try.  Also exploring the possibilities of home grinding!


For the last few years we've cat shared with a neighbour.  Prior to that, we had a girl cat for 17 years.  She was a fussy eater who liked her Whiskers and we had no trouble in all that time with pancreatitis.


The final possibility is vaccinations.  She had her final jab a few days before the condition started.  There's nothing on the vaccine data sheets regarding pancreatitis, although the list of possible symptoms post-jab match the symptoms of the condition.


As a poll, can anyone else tie cat jabs to the start of this condition?     

post #10 of 10

Hi Philip Legard, welcome to TCS! Sorry to hear about your cat's diagnosis of pancreatitis, but it is something that can be managed, so that's the good news.


You posted to an old thread, so you might want to start a new thread and add the poll regarding a link between vaccinations and pancreatitis. That is an interesting premise. I don't think I've heard of that before.

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