There are all sorts of reasons for your feline friend losing her appetite, vomiting and having diarrhea, but these are among the first signs of a condition called pancreatitis. If your kitty does have pancreatitis, your vet is likely to manage the condition with prednisone, a powerful corticosteroid.
Your cat produces corticosteroids naturally, and when she's in good health they control her metabolic function, her ability to deal with stress and her body's ability to repress inflammation. With some diseases your cat needs additional help from a prescription corticosteroid. This drug group, commonly referred to as steroids or cortisone, consists of various anti-inflammatory drugs, and prednisone is one of the most powerful available. Apart from pancreatitis, vets prescribe corticosteroids for asthma and allergies, as well as irritable bowel disease. Autoimmune diseases, such as cancer, also respond to prednisone because it acts as an immunosuppressant. San Francisco vet Dr. Eric Barchas states that a corticosteroid like prednisone is an invaluable part of veterinary medicine, but he also points out that because of its potency, vets and pet owners need to monitor the drug's effects carefully.
Pancreatitis and Prednisone
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of your cat's pancreas. According to the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center, when this happens the powerful digestive enzymes stored in the pancreas escape and start to digest the pancreas itself. This action then spreads to the liver, and the toxins released cause inflammation throughout the cat's body. Pancreatitis can also affect insulin production, resulting in a diabetic cat. One line of treatment is to manage the pancreatic inflammation with prednisone, because it reduces the swelling and inflammation. VetInfo points out that because prednisone is a strong drug, it is not recommended for long-term use.
If your vet prescribes prednisone, it's likely that he'll advise you to give it to your cat at the same time every day, and to put it in your pet's food. The dosage depends on the severity of your feline friend's condition, her age, her weight, her general health and any other conditions she has. The drug is also available in liquid form if your cat isn't a great pill-taker; in some cases, your vet may give her an injection.
You need to take great care with your cat when she's taking prednisone, because of its potential to give her unpleasant side effects. Your vet will probably want to see her regularly as well. Common side effects are increased thirst and appetite, although the medicine may also irritate her stomach and give her diarrhea. Because it's an immunosuppressant she's more at risk of catching an infection, and you may notice some mood swings.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.