Causes of Pancreatitis in Cats

Pancreatitis isn't always serious; mild cases rarely require long-term treatment.

Pancreatitis isn't always serious; mild cases rarely require long-term treatment.

Just like his loyal caregivers, kitty can have an inflamed pancreas too. Ranging from mild to severe, Pancreatitis is a disorder that develops in response to various factors. Although there are some common culprits, even veterinarians have a hard time identifying why feline pancreatitis flares up.

Physical Trauma

There are a lot of things that can cause inflammation of the pancreas. Your cat could have simply hurt himself when he lost his footing while climbing the walnut tree in your back yard. Physical trauma, from an external or surgical injury, could be the sole cause of your cat's pancreatitis. If enough force was transferred to your pet's insides during an impact, the shock could disrupt the natural function of his organs. Watch for signs of additional health problems in the weeks following any serious physical injury, even if your pet seems fine after the incident.


Various pathogens and parasites have also been associated with the development of pancreatitis. While the link between any particular disease and inflammation of the pancreas isn't definitive, conditions caused by infestations of intestinal parasites is a recognized risk factor, according to "The Merck Veterinary Manual." Problems with other organs, like the liver, and chronic bowel diseases are also cited as potential suspects. Your cat's overall health plays a deciding role in how vulnerable he is to pancreas problems and his body's ability to repair the damage.

Other Factors

Veterinarians and medical experts have pointed to a few other factors that could contribute to a case of pancreatitis. An imbalanced diet, particularly one with a high fat content, can stress your pet's pancreas and cause digestive trouble. Consuming toxins, like those in some houseplants and cleaning solutions, and a negative reaction to medical treatment have also been blamed for causing pancreatic problems, according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Hereditary vulnerability to pancreas problems is also possible, so smaller risk factors may be a bigger issue in predisposed cats.

Unknown Cause

As you talk to your vet about your cat's condition, you may find yourself without answers to some of your more pressing questions. No matter how knowledgeable and experienced your vet is, the cause of your pet's illness may simply be impossible to identify. In fact, there's a pretty good chance the source of the problem will remain a mystery, according to "The Merck Veterinary Manual." This doesn't mean you can't get treatment for your pet, though. Ask your vet about your kitty's medical options and to recommend dietary changes to improve your pet's digestive health.

About the Author

Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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