April 2009 Issue

Feline Pancreatitis: Serious

The outcome can be lethal when a cat's pancreas starts to digest its own tissue. Here are the signs to look for.

Although the feline pancreas is a relatively small internal organ, typically weighing no more than six or eight ounces, it plays a demanding and multifaceted role in maintaining a cat’s robust health. Indeed, a disease or injury that results in the inflammation of this vital organ — a condition called pancreatitis — could prove fatal unless the animal receives prompt, and potentially quite expensive, medical care. The pancreas is a slender, pink, v-shaped strip of tissue resting snugly within the cat’s abdomen between its left kidney and its duodenum. It is a glandular organ that performs two life-sustaining functions—endocrine and exocrine. While still in the pancreas, explains Richard Goldstein, DVM, an associate professor of small animal medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, these digestive enzymes are normally sequestered in tiny droplets that prevent their coming into direct contact with pancreatic tissue. Moreover, he says, the enzymes are biologically programmed to remain inactive until after they have been secreted and have traveled via the pancreatic duct into the small intestine.

To continue reading this entire article you must be a paid subscriber.

Subscribe to CatWatch Newsletter

Which foods are really safe for your cat? How can you painlessly end furniture scratching---for good? What is your cat telling you when she refuses to eat? Get the answers to these questions- and many more- when you subscribe now to CatWatch!

Already subscribe but haven't registered for all the benefits of the website? Click here.

Subscriber Log In

Forgot your password? Click Here.