Diagnosing and managing feline pancreatitis (Sponsored by IDEXX Laboratories)
Dr. Marnin Forman: The clinical presentations differ between species. Many dogs develop acute, severe signs including vomiting, anorexia, fever, and marked abdominal pain. It is a more vague disease with cats presenting lethargic with a decreased appetite. Cats' physical exam findings often don't suggest pancreatitis. For example, detecting abdominal pain is uncommon, but this may be underestimated because it's difficult to assess in cats.
Robertson: What is the prevalence of pancreatitis? Because it can be difficult to differentiate between acute and chronic disease, do you think we are actually missing cases of pancreatitis?
Forman: One study showed that 67% of cats presented for necropsy irrespective of the cause of death had evidence of pancreatitis on biopsy.1 I think that is too high. We need to agree about what pancreatitis is on a histopathologic level. If you agree with Dr. De Cock's assessment of pancreatitis, then the prevalence is extremely high in the population of cats that she evaluated at a tertiary hospital.1 Earlier studies established the prevalence as 1.3%, but that is very likely too low.3 It is probably much higher than initially thought.
Robertson: So we agree that the prevalence of pancreatitis in cats is unknown but between 1.3% and 67%. This is an extremely wide range, but it's probably much more common than previously believed.