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A Holistic Approach To Overcoming Feline Pancreatitis


Treating cats with pancreatitis holistically

For any cat parent out there who has a kitty with pancreatitis my heart goes out to you!  You and your cat’s world probably revolves around an vicious cycle of flare ups, loss of appetite, pain and nausea meds, appetite stimulants, force feeding or small meals, vet visits, sub-cutaneous fluids, and lots of tears, frustration and prayers.  And this cycle can go on for days or even weeks at a time.  It is not a disease for the faint of heart because it can wear you both out.  The common veterinary standard for feline pancreatitis is to “manage” it with long term drugs and fluid therapy.  This approach doesn’t take into consideration the toxic burden from the drugs or the stress it puts on the liver.  It also doesn’t treat the underlying cause. 

So what is feline pancreatitis and what causes it? 

The pancreas is a large gland that is involved with controlling sugar and metabolism and produces hormones that are involved with digestion.    According to pancreatitis is the most common inflammatory diseases of the pancreas that cats get, and the most common causes are due to:

  • improper diet
  • severe injury
  • anesthetic complications
  • infections caused by bacteria species (toxoplasma & Amphimerus)

Clinical Signs & Symptoms:

Cats affected with pancreatitis, may appear as dehydrated, tired and restless. Abdominal pain is uncommon in cats, but may present at a certain level. Diseased cats vomit frequently. Anorexia (Loss of appetite) is another sign associated with a disturbance in the release of pancreatic juices, which are important for appetite. Temperature remains lower then normal.

Moreover, in severe conditions, the cat may exhibit ataxia (Difficulty in movement) and apparent weight loss & even death, if not treated and cared for properly.

Diagnosis of Feline Pancreatitis:

Diagnosing pancreatitis is a delicate job. Cats may exhibit irregular signs and some may also associated with other diseases.  This may include abdominal pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting.  

Laboratory procedures are therefore necessary.  Several biochemical tests such as “TLI”, “PLI” & amylase enzyme level test etc. are helpful in reaching a diagnosis. Abdominal ultrasonography shows changes in size, condition and fluid accumulation around the pancreas, which can be helpful in diagnosing pancreatitis.

Treatment of Feline Pancreatitis:

Due to the nature of the disease, supportive care via fluid therapy is very common, along with pain medications.  I’ve read that it may also benefit cats to skip a few meals while the pancreas is inflamed to give it a chance to calm down.  However, skipping too many meals can lead to hepatic lipidosis, a very dangerous and life-threatening condition.  

The role of proper nutrition

Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, feels the biggest culprit that leads to disease in cats is improper diet.  Most cat food uses feed grade ingredients that are toxic, lack nutrition and are not biologically appropriate for cats to eat.  This list includes products like corn, wheat, soy, rice, potatoes, tapioca, legumes, and quinoa.  These grains and starches create an inflammatory response in the cat’s body over time, and are cheap fillers that commercial pet food companies use in place of quality meat.  If you’re not convinced, read the labels of the cat food products in your pantry or in the stores you shop in.  In the cheapest of foods (found in grocery stores) the first several ingredients on the label are grains and starches, not meat.  (Labels list ingredients in order of volume of the product.) 

When the pancreas is stressed trying to break down foods that cats aren’t designed to eat there is ultimately going to be an inflammatory response.  Therefore, being proactive is your best defense.  

The very best diet for cats is one that is meat based because they are biologically designed to eat meat!  Their jaws, teeth, and digestive tracts prove this.  When given a diet that they are designed to eat, cats don’t develop an inflammatory response that can lead to pancreatitis.  Using digestive enzymes also help relieve some of the burden put on the pancreas.  When mixed into the cat’s food they aide in assimilation and digestion.  

Hershey’s Storyfeline pancreatitis

My cat, Hershey, was diagnosed with pancreatitis back in May of 2010.  The vet at the time prescribed an antibiotic and anti-nausea medication.  In a few days he was fine.  Until he had another bout four weeks later…and again exactly four weeks later!  The vet essentially gave up and recommended we see a specialist, and I had visions of dollar signs flashing in my head.  I knew in my heart the “expert” would run more tests and prescribe drugs for him to be on for the rest of his life.  I also knew this was not the path I was supposed to take for him, so instead I took him to see my Naturapath at Heights of Health.  

Using a technique called muscle testing, which is a type of bio-feedback used to assess the needs and address imbalances in the body, Sonya was able to narrow down the cause Hershey’s pancreatitis to a parasite in his pancreas.  We were sent home with an herbal remedy specifically used for pancreatic flukes, and within two days he was his normal self again.  And the best part is he rarely has a flare up!  On occasion he eats a pine needle found in the courtyard and throws it up with a large amount of yellow bile.  

Several years ago I stopped feeding my cats kibble and switched them to premium canned, freeze-dried and raw food.  My latest challenge is to get Hershey off all canned food because he developed hyperthyroid from the BPA liners.  He’s been difficult to convince, and progress has been slow, but freeze-dried food has become his new favorite.  He rarely gets a flare up, and when he does it rarely involves throwing up bile; it’s usually apparent by his loss of appetite.  I’ve also added a high quality digestive enzyme to all his meals. 

Homeopathy and Pancreatitis

A couple of weeks ago he wasn’t interested in eating yet acted hungry.  After trying everything I pulled out some Pancrea Force by Energetix and gave him 1/2 a capsule mixed with water by syringe.  I also increased the dose of his thyroid supplement by a couple of drops.  About an hour later he was eating, but his appetite was still about 50% of its norm.  Then I had an idea.

I’m a huge fan of classic homeopathy, and purchased a 50 remedy kit this past summer.  One of the remedies indicated for digestive issues is Arsenicum Album.  Working on a hunch (intuition) I muscled tested Hershey for it, and it was a big yes!  I gave him three doses twelve hours apart, and his appetite was back to normal!   During that time I started researching remedies for pancreatitis in cats.  It took quite a lot of digging around, but I finally found some suggestions used on humans and animals.  Wouldn’t you know, Arsenicum Album was on the list, along with Iris Versicolor, Iodum, Phosphorous, Belladonna, Conium, Kali-Iodum, and Mercurius.  Symptoms determine which remedy is used in classic homeopathy, and muscle testing gives confirmation because not all the symptoms within one remedy may match. 

Hope and help!

While many cases of feline pancreatitis are chronic, making dietary changes and using homeopathic remedies or supplements designed to support the pancreas, especially during flare ups, are great ways promote healing and prevention.  If your cat has been on medications for long periods of time it may also be beneficial to detox the liver with a milk thistle supplement.  For all the cat parents who have a cat dealing with this awful disease I hope this gives you hope and some new options to try rather than staying stuck in the same repetitive cycle you find yourselves in now.  

Please help me spread the word about holistic health for cats by sharing this post on your favorite social media channel.  You can sign up here if you’d like to follow our blog.  Do you have a story to share?  Leave a comment below!

Here are some links to explore on pancreatitis and homeopathy:




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