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Pancreatitis In Cats: When To Euthanize? 

Pancreatitis In Cats: When To Euthanize? 

Pancreatitis in cats is a condition that indicates inflammation of the pancreas – the organ in which digestive enzymes are produced, stored, and released.

This condition manifests through various symptoms, including a cat’s loss of appetite, weakness, lethargy, dehydration, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties.

With this disease, timely diagnosis and intensive therapy are extremely important. Unfortunately, in some cases, pancreatitis can even have fatal consequences for the cat.

At some point, it might be inevitable that a cat with pancreatitis will be euthanized. For every cat owner, this realization will be too difficult to accept, but sometimes it is the only thing we can do to save our furry friends from further suffering.

Let’s take a closer look at the topic: When to euthanize a cat with pancreatitis? 

In What Cases Should A Cat With Pancreatitis Be Euthanized?

the vet euthanizes the cat

Not every cat will have the same reaction to pancreatitis. Also, there are two types of feline pancreatitis – acute and chronic.

According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, the prognosis for recovery for cats with mild to moderate forms of pancreatitis is generally very good.

Marnin Forman and his associates [1] explain how acute pancreatitis is treated with fluid therapy, analgesics, and nutritional support, while chronic pancreatitis treatment involves solving the potential cause of this condition, and anti‐inflammatory and immunosuppressive treatment.

However, for some cats, pancreatitis will be fatal. In such circumstances, the veterinarian’s only recommendation might be to euthanize the cat to prevent further suffering.

Here are some of the signs that your cat with pancreatitis should be euthanized:

• The cat doesn’t seem to get any better

• She suffers from severe weight loss, shows no appetite, and displays lethargy

• If the cat develops severe liver damage as a result of pancreatitis

• Appearance of complications, such as blood clotting and multi-organ failure 

• Appearance of Triaditis, which is, according to the Kingsdale Animal Hospital, inflammation in three parts of a cat’s body – intestines, liver, and pancreas

What Is The Mortality Rate For Cats With Pancreatitis?

Many cats diagnosed with pancreatitis can ultimately return to their normal lives, particularly if they’ve received timely treatment.

However, not all felines will be this lucky. According to MSPCA-Angell, the mortality rate in cats suffering from acute pancreatitis is estimated to be between 9% and 41%.

This percentage greatly depends on the cat’s previous health state, too. If a cat suffers from other health problems, such as diabetes, or Inflammatory bowel disease, this can significantly decrease her chances for recovery.

Furthermore, even cats that have been perfectly healthy before pancreatitis might deal with complications such as liver damage or Triaditis, which could prevent them from getting better.

How To Be Sure Euthanasia Is The Only Option?

a veterinarian euthanizes a sick cat

Your veterinarian will only suggest euthanizing your cat if there’s no way to improve her condition.

It’s important to understand that euthanasia is the only solution in some situations, unfortunately.

Prolonging your cat’s life doesn’t mean giving her more quality time – in this case, it means more suffering and pain for her.

One thing you shouldn’t doubt is your veterinarian’s assessment, since he’s the one who knows your cat’s condition the best.

What Does Euthanasia Process Look Like?

No cat parent wishes to become more familiar with the process of euthanasia, but unfortunately, many of you will have to face this situation. Therefore, it’s wise to be prepared.

I’m sure you’re wondering will your cat forgive you for putting her to sleep.

Just remember that euthanasia isn’t about putting your furry companion in more pain, but rather liberating her from all suffering she has been going through.

This is what euthanasia looks like: The veterinarian will give an overdose of anesthetic to your cat. She won’t be in any pain, because she will lose consciousness very soon after getting the injection.

A few minutes after this, your cat’s heart will stop beating. Some cat parents choose not to see this procedure, while others want to be there for their pets.

If you feel like you shouldn’t leave your dying cat alone, then you should try to find the courage to cuddle her in these last moments.

How To Cope With The Hard Feeling Afterwards?

You’re well aware that pancreatitis has destroyed your cat’s quality of life, but this doesn’t make it any easier to accept that your furry friend is gone. And this is completely normal.

You’ll probably suffer from guilt after euthanizing your favorite pet. Coming to an empty house is the worst feeling in the world in a situation like this.

However, you should let yourself grieve, and take as much time as you want. Just think of all the nice moments and memories you and your cat shared.

If you feel like your family and friends don’t understand you the best, maybe you can try to find consolation in support groups.

I would like to remind you once more that euthanasia was the only option left for your cat, and that this was a dignified way for her to go. This doesn’t make her life and your memories any less special!

The Bottom Line

Feline pancreatitis is an inflammatory condition of the pancreas, which is a crucial organ for enzyme production and food digestion.

Some cats with this condition can live a perfectly normal life, especially if they receive treatment on time.

Regrettably, some may not be as fortunate, as pancreatitis can prove fatal for them. Hearing your vet’s advice that it would be best to euthanize your cat with pancreatitis is terrifying.

However, this is something you’ll hear only if there is no other option left. This means that there is no chance for recovery, and that your cat is, unfortunately, too ill to respond to treatment.

Euthanasia is undoubtedly difficult, but in certain instances, it becomes an inevitable consideration. Give yourself enough time to accept this, and be at peace because you have done the only thing possible to relieve your cat from pain.

[1] Forman MA, Steiner JM, Armstrong PJ, Camus MS, Gaschen L, Hill SL, Mansfield CS, Steiger K. ACVIM consensus statement on pancreatitis in cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2021 Mar;35(2):703-723. DOI, Retrieved August 16, 2023.