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elderly cat - pancreatitis? or kidney disease?

February 7th, 2008, 10:56 AM
hello - I'm a new member, and hoping for help with our beloved 18 year old female cat. she's been in generally good health. last year she had gingevitis, and a gum infection that led to a kidney infection. this was successfully cleared up with antibiotics. since then, we've had her on a diet of Hills Prescription Diet KD - to help control any further kidney disease. her latest blood work showed normal levels in everything, except for her AMYL - which was slightly elevated (1964 U/L for a normal range of 500-1500 U/L). our new vet diagnosed her with chronic pancreatitis from this blood test - although she has no symptoms of this, other than occaisional vomiting. her physical exam was normal. she has had a good appetite, good energy level, and no pain. the drugs he prescribed for pancreatitis gave our cat terrible side effects, so we stopped them (with the vets consent) after 48 terrible hours. now we are researching on the internet about elevated AMYL blood tests - and it seems like this could indicate kidney disease, as well as pancreatits. given her medical history, kidney disease seems more likely. has anyone else gone though this - and can anyone help advise us on our next step? the vet says that the pancreatitis must be treated - any advice would be appreicated!! thank you!!!!!!

February 7th, 2008, 10:59 AM
You could get a second opinion from another vet. I hope your kitty is going to be okay. :fingerscr


February 7th, 2008, 11:20 AM
Cindy, thanks for your reply and well wishes for our cat. Yes, we are attemting to contact our cat's previous vet, who cared for her before we moved abroad.

we're just wondering if anyone could illuminate us about the AMYL blood test, and why a vet would conclude a diagnosis of pancreatitis, rather than kidney disease, based solely on the blood test.

we're also wondering if anyone has treated a cat for pancreatitis, and what medications they used, and how the drugs were tolerated by the cat.

thanks again for any input!!!!!!!

February 7th, 2008, 11:52 AM

okay i have been through this. i can tell you that unless the lipase levels are elevated, judging the cat to have pancreatitis based only on the amalyse is premature. Yes high amalyse levels can be a precursor to kidney issues. If your kitty is eating and drinking that is great, and i have to say i am relieved you took them off the medication.

a second opinion is a wise thing, and monitoring bloodtests, twice a year to start, assuming your kitty appears healthy and happy. Judge your cat by how she appears, acts, eats, etc, not just the numbers.

Just another thought, as your other levels are down, and i know a couple here can provide links, and more detailed information, have you considered a change in food? K/D is an old school idea that many vets tend to offer up, and i am sure if the condition was acute, and her bloodtests are now normal, it has helped. Research has shown though that a high quality food has been helpful, and that phosphorus levels are the things to look out for in the food for helping with a kitt ywith crf issues, and that low protein food is not needed, particularly in the early stages.

My cat has dealt with the pancreatitis, and early crf numbers, as well as gray area zone early hyperthyroid issues. She was treated for her pancreatitis this was a year ago, is healthy now and we watch the other numbers on her blood work. i rotate her canned only with felidae, wellness, and merricks, and my vet checks in on her ever 5-6 months for blood testing, the numbers have varied, but are all within the normal levels now.

Best of luck with your kitty , and getting a second opinion please update us:)

February 7th, 2008, 12:24 PM
hi loopoo,
thanks so much for your posting. sorry to hear that you've been through pancreatitis, but am So glad your cat made it through, and is currently doing okay!

we just got off the phone with our previous and trusted vet, who also confirmed that a diagnosis of pancreatitis solely based on one AMYL blood test was premature. he confirmed that an elevated AMYL could be caused by a number of things, and that he wasn't overly alarmed by the elevated AMYL blood levels, as long as our cat is acting well; eating and energetic, etc.

he suggested no drugs for now (unless she shows new symptoms), continuing with the KD diet, and doing the blood test again in 2 weeks to compare the AMYL levels. we will phone him with the new blood work results, and let him decide what to do next.

the side effects of the drugs that the new vet prescribed for her "pancreatitis" were beyond terrible, we thought we might lose her. after 3 days of being drug free she is almost back to her normal self again..thank god..!

thanks again for all the help support and advice!!

February 7th, 2008, 12:33 PM
I have no advice to give but will send my prayers your way!:pray::grouphug:

February 7th, 2008, 12:53 PM
thank you so much for the good wishes.

loved your quotes, but I think Albert Schweitzer omitted the third means of refuge from the miseries of life - chocolate (dark, of course)!

February 7th, 2008, 01:03 PM
i am glad to hear the vet agreed with what i had sensed. my cats amalyse can still gravitate towards the high levels, but all else.. thus far is normal. i am so glad your kitty is off those meds, and that you are able to access your old vet for opinions, i would be looking to possibly find another vet if i had the experience you did, but that is just my opinion :) Based on the other findings, aside from the amalyse being high, if the other tests are normal, there shouldnt really be a need to blood test more than every 4-6 months, assuming your kitty is acting and feeling fine.

this is an excellent site with crf information, take some time to look it through, a TON of valuable information there

so glad your kitty is feeling better..

February 7th, 2008, 01:57 PM

thank you for the link -the website looks very informative and supportive.

yes - we will probably change vets here. the new one was highly recommended to us (go figure), but this has been a bad experience.

our cat has been with us since the day of her birth 18 yrs ago, we are completely bonded with her - and hoping that she will be with us another 5 happy healthy years. we will do all possible to keep her well and happy.

February 8th, 2008, 06:36 AM
18 years old:eek:. good going on keeping her healthy.:thumbs up

You could also get urinalysis done along with the bloodwork panel. This is a more accruate way to determine how well the kidney is functioning.

Hope all goes well.

February 8th, 2008, 04:55 PM
great suggestion - thank you!

Kelly C
February 9th, 2008, 05:20 PM
It seems to me a little unkind to be so intrusive with an 18 yr old cat. Of course the kidneys are probably going. That is to be expected. As long as she is happy, why not leave her alone and let her eat what she wants?


February 10th, 2008, 07:55 AM
Kelly, thankfully she LOVES Hills prescription diet KD, so she's very happy with her food. her latest blood tests show that her kidneys are functioning within normal range - so we could feed her anything she wants. but both vets agree that she may as well stay on Hills KD - not only does she love it, but it provides some protection from the onset and progression of kidney disease...

Kelly C
February 10th, 2008, 08:51 AM
They put one of mine on the Hills for urine crystals & she wouldn't touch it. I finally had to call the office back and tell them she didn't seem to regard it as food. LOL But she's 18 now and has lived a good life. When she starts looking shabby and uncomfortable I will take her in to do the deed. It really won't matter what specifically is going wrong. Unless it's something really simple. Because at that age all you can really offer them is comfort and dignity. You can't turn back the clock.

If your cat made it to 18 you have obviously met all your obligations as a good pet owner. There is the odd one that lives into their 20's but my vet said that anything after 14 is good.

I had one live to 17 with congestive heart failure. His x-rays showed an enlarged heart at 10. I don't think he would have lasted as long if I had done all of the intrusive things they were recommending. --Kelly

February 10th, 2008, 10:29 AM
Kelly, I understand what you're saying - providing the right kind of care is a balance...trying to respect their dignity, well being, and health - without getting overly intrusive.

we are hoping our cat will be one of the lucky ones to live well into their 20's, while still having quality of life..

we intervened when she suddenly became quite ill last year, the vet found a dental infection which had led to a kidney infection. we were able to clear it all up with antibiotics, without which she would have deteriorated and died. after she recovered she was back to playing, and acting like a kitten again.

since then, she's been getting check-ups and blood work every 3-4 months, which we think is prudent. our new vet seems to be overly zealous about treating conditions which are not critical, so we are changing vets..

it sounds like you're a good "pet owner" also, congrats on the older cat (hey, that rhymes).

from now on, if we are able to nip something critical in the early stages we will, but if it's not overly critical we will let her be. if the quality of her life deteriorates and there's no easy way to help her, we will likewise let nature take its course.