Feline exocrine pancreatic disorders

J. M. Steiner, D. A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite the uncommon clinical diagnosis, cats frequently suffer from disorders of the exocrine pancreas. Pancreatitis is the most common feline exocrine pancreatic disorder. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic and mild or severe. The etiology of most cases of feline pancreatitis is idiopathic. Some cases have been associated with severe abdominal trauma, infectious diseases, cholangiohepatitis, and organophosphate and other drug intoxication. The clinical presentation of cats with pancreatitis is nonspecific. Vomiting and signs of abdominal pain, which are the clinical signs most commonly observed in humans and dogs with pancreatitis, are only uncommonly observed in cats with pancreatitis. Routine laboratory findings are also nonspecific. Abdominal ultrasonography is a valuable diagnostic tool in feline patients with pancreatitis. Serum activities of lipase and amylase are rarely increased in cats with pancreatitis; however, these cats often have elevated serum fTLI concentrations. The goals of management are removal of the inciting cause, provision of supportive and symptomatic therapy, and careful monitoring for and aggressive treatment of systemic complications. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is a syndrome caused by insufficient synthesis of pancreatic digestive enzymes by the exocrine portion of the pancreas. The clinical signs most commonly reported are weight loss, loose and voluminous stools, and greasy soiling of the hair coat. Serum fTLI is subnormal in affected cats. Treatment of cats with EPI consists of enzyme supplementation with powdered pancreatic extracts or raw beef pancreas. Many cats with EPI have concurrent small intestinal disease. Most cats with EPI also have severely decreased serum cobalamin concentrations and many require parenteral cobalamin supplementation. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the most common neoplastic condition of the exocrine pancreas in the cat. At the time of diagnosis, the tumor has already metastasized in most cases, and the prognosis is poor. Pancreatic pseudocyst, pancreatic abscess, pancreatic parasites, pancreatic bladder, and nodular hyperplasia are other exocrine pancreatic disorders, that are less commonly seen in cats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-575
Number of pages25
JournalVeterinary Clinics of North America - Small Animal Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals


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