Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements for Cats

Pancreatic enzyme supplements are active proteins that help in the digestive process. Supplements of pancreatic enzymes are required if your pet displays symptoms of deficiency of these enzymes.  

Pancreatic Enzymes in Cats

Pancreatic enzymes are produced and stored by acinar cells present in the pancreas. They’re released into the small intestine through the pancreatic duct when the cat eats food. When these enzymes reach the intestine, they start working on the food that’s ingested. They break down the food in the intestine into smaller molecules. The food is then absorbed in the form of nutrients by the cells lining the intestinal walls.

The nutrients are then transported via the circulatory system to other parts of the body where they’re utilized by various tissues.

Different Types of Pancreatic Enzymes

Pancreatic enzymes include lipase, amylase, chymotrypsin and trypsin. Lipase enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of molecules of fats and triglycerides. Amylase breaks down amino acids and, trypsin and chymotrypsin break down proteins in the food. An absence or deficiency of these enzymes results in exocrine pancreatic insufficiency also known as maldigestion syndrome.

The proteins, amino acids, fats and triglycerides in the pet’s food are not assimilated by the body but pass out undigested from the gastrointestinal tract through the stools. A pet can starve to death even while appearing to have a healthy appetite. This insufficiency can be caused by chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), cancer or an infestation of flukes.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Insufficiency

Symptoms of a cat pancreatic insufficiency include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Loose, malodorous stools
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Consumption of own feces (coprophagia)
  • Poor condition of the skin and coat
  • Undigested fat in the stools
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Low energy levels 
  • Lethargy

Benefits of Pancreatic Enzymes Supplements

Pancreatic enzyme supplements are available in powdered or tablet form. Cats benefit more when the powdered form of the supplement is administered to them. A spoonful of the supplement should be added to each meal 20 to 30 minutes before feeding. These supplements help to boost your pet’s immune system and aid in the digestive process.

 These supplements are expansive as they have to be extracted from whole, raw pancreatic glands of pigs and cattle. In cases of chronic pancreatitis, these supplements have to be administered throughout the pet’s lifetime. Brand names of these supplements include Viokase and Pancrezyme.

Indications for the Administration of Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements

Supplements of pancreatic enzymes should be administered to cats that develop exocrine pancreatic insufficiency as a result of chronic pancreatitis. Cats suffering from acute pancreatitis benefit when they’re fed a bland diet that’s easily digestible in conjunction with enzyme supplements.

While other supplements benefit a cat’s overall health, pancreatic enzyme supplements are essential for overcoming any pancreatic enzyme deficiency suffered by your pet.