Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) in Cats Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) develops when the pancreas fails to produce enough digestive enzymes. The pancreas is the organ in the body responsible for producing insulin (which regulates the body’s blood sugar levels) and digestive enzymes (which aid in the digestion of starches, fats, and proteins in a cat’s diet). EPI may affect a cat’s general nutrition, as well as its gastrointestinal system. Chronic diarrhea and weight loss are common complications of this disease. Symptoms and Types EPI may cause digestive problems, malnutrition, and/or improper absorption of nutrients in your cat's body, which can contribute to an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines. Symptoms may include chronic diarrhea; weight loss despite a normal or increased appetite; frequent or greater volume of stool and gas; and coprophagia, a condition which causes an animal to eat its own stool. Causes One common cause of EPI is idiopathic pancreatic acinar atrophy (PAA). The enzymes responsible for aiding in the digestion of starches, fats, and proteins are produced by cells in the pancreas known as pancreatic acinar cells. PAA develops when these cells fail to function properly, thereby leading to EPI. Another common cause of EPI is chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). This is the most common cause in cats. If chronic pancreatitis is the cause, it is possible your cat has diabetes, which will also need to be treated. Diagnosis A number of pancreatic function tests can be done if symptoms of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency are apparent. A serum sample that measures the amount of the chemical trypsinogen (TLI) released into the blood from the pancreas should reveal problems in the pancreas. A cat with EPI will have reduced amounts of TLI. Urine and stool analyses may be conducted along with a number of other tests. Gastrointestinal infections or inflammations may be among the other problems responsible for symptoms similar to those of EPI. 1 2 Next offspringThe term for an animal’s young pancreasA gland that aids in both digestive and insulin functions pancreatitisA medical condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed malnutritionA condition of poor health that results from poor feeding or no feeding at all idiopathicRelating to a disease of unknown origin, which may or may not have arisen spontaneously enzymeA substance that causes chemical change to another gastrointestinalThe digestive tract containing the stomach and intestine atrophyThe wasting away of certain tissues; a medical condition that occurs when tissues fail to grow. insulinA hormone created by the pancreas that helps to regulate the flow of glucose
In veterinary medicine, there are several medical conditions in which digestive enzymes may be deficient or absent. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), pancreatic hypoplasia, and pancreatitis all affect the production of digestive enzymes, and potentially other products of the pancreas as well, such as insulin and glucagon. Inflammatory bowel disease (particularly lymphocytic-plasmacytic gastroenteritis) may impact the production and/or release of digestive enzymes. It is worth remembering that in cats, pancreatitis is often overlooked and likely vastly underdiagnosed. Additionally, cats have a more limited enzyme capability in their digestive tracts that does not favor starch digestion and absorption; this may make them more susceptible to developing diabetes mellitus when free-fed the standard high-starch kibble diet.
Based on my experience, I don’t find plant-based enzymes to be powerful enough for cats and dogs. In my opinion, for carnivorous pets, plant or vegetarian enzymes aren’t as efficient for digestive purposes as are animal-sourced enzymes. I recommend vegetarian enzymes for vegetarian pets (rabbits) and animal sourced enzymes for carnivorous pets.
Your cat’s good health begins in the digestive system. Fresh Digest is an effective problem solver for the most common digestive conditions affecting cats. The four acid-stable enzymes ensure proper digestion & absorption of nutrients, easing the burden placed on the digestive system. Clinically-tested levels of the PreBiotic, Organic Inulin, support and feed the beneficial native bacteria. Because all cats have different intestinal flora, adding Organic Inulin is a more natural, individualized way to address digestive health. Fresh Digest contains NO inactive ingredients such as lactose (milk sugar) or rice bran to upset sensitive systems. This concentrated, gentle formula will show FAST results for:Hairballs Diarrhea Smelly Litter Box Constipatioin Bad Breath Antibiotic Use Food Change
Additional Details Your cat’s good health begins in the digestive system. Fresh Digest is an effective problem solver for the most common digestive conditions affecting cats. The four acid-stable enzymes ensure proper digestion & absorption of nutrients, easing the burden placed on the digestive system. Clinically-tested levels of the PreBiotic, Organic Inulin, support and feed the beneficial native bacteria. Because all cats have different intestinal flora, adding Organic Inulin is a more natural, individualized way to address digestive health. Fresh Digest contains NO inactive ingredients such as lactose (milk sugar) or rice bran to upset sensitive systems. This concentrated, gentle formula will show FAST results for:Hairballs Diarrhea Smelly Litter Box Constipatioin Bad Breath Antibiotic Use Food Change
Enzymes come from two sources: your cat’s food, and her body. Unfortunately, only raw, fresh food contains enzymes. Enzymes are fragile, and are easily destroyed by heat, pesticides, herbicides, food preservatives, additives, artificial colorings, and flavor enhancers. Enzymes in your cat’s body are easily depleted by exposure to environmental toxins, air pollutants, and medications.
A: Microbial – or fungal, to be exact – enzymes are sometimes recommended for human use, especially for vegetarians. However, for cats and dogs, who consume diets high in meat protein, I believe a pancreatic derived enzyme works far more efficiently. Fungal enzymes are just not as perfect a match for our furry friends’ bodies as pancreatic enzymes. Plus, fungal enzymes can be particularly troublesome for animals with allergies, yeast problems, and weakened digestive systems.
Research in animals has shown that the production of digestive enzymes is independent of diet. That is, animals are biologically programmed to produce specific types and amounts of digestive enzymes in response to food ingestion, regardless of what food they actually eat. Only major evolutionary shifts, such as changing from omnivorous to insectivorous lifestyles, affect these systems. Our carnivorous pets have not, and cannot, adapt their digestive functions to processed diets, which, after all, have only been widely used for a few decades.
As a rule, enzymes are very safe and usually devoid of side effects. Humans are recommended not to use them without a doctor’s advice if they’re taking acarbose (Precose) or miglitol (Glyset). It is also recommended that people taking warfarin (Coumadin) not use digestive enzymes containing papain without a doctor’s supervision. These drugs are rarely if ever used in animals, however, so it is unlikely that a dog or cat taking enzymes would have an interaction with any other supplements or drugs. Still, to be safe, it’s always a good idea to get your veterinarian to help you choose the best product for your animal, and ensure it is given safely.
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) develops when the pancreas fails to produce enough digestive enzymes. The pancreas is the organ in the body responsible for producing insulin (which regulates the body’s blood sugar levels) and digestive enzymes (which aid in the digestion of starches, fats, and proteins in a cat’s diet).
Digestive enzymes for pets typically come in capsules or powdered form, making it easy to sprinkle on or mix with wet food. For most pets, the best enzymes come from plants or fungi (yeast), because they can survive the trip through the stomach’s acidic environment. Make sure the enzymes you choose contain at least protease, lipase and amylase (many also contain cellulase, which is useful if the food contains fibrous vegetables or grains).
The use of probiotics and digestive enzymes in food, not just for transitional purposes but all of the time, is strongly advocated by many. Probiotics are said to boost the immune system.¹ There is also some evidence that certain probiotics can alleviate diarrhea, at least in humans.² Digestive enzymes are, not surprisingly, assumed to aid in digestion. But this is not as simple as it may seem. Let's examine the idea.
A: It’s important to realize that ANY enzyme supplement can cause vomiting and diarrhea if given in too high a dose, especially fungus-derived enzymes. If your pet has digestive issues, I advise you to start slowly. This is easy to do with Healthy Pets Digestive Enzymes as they come in powdered form. You can begin with very small amounts and work up to the recommended amount over time, according to your pet’s response.
I had the same problem with my cat about a 1.5 years ago. I was loosing her. She lost a considerable amount of weight and could not take any food, everything went out almost immediately. Though she was on the best commercial food at the time with no additives and no carbs, she still deteriorated. I switched her diet to home made with supplements that I ordered from Dr. Andrew Jones (Ultimate Feline Supplements), and force fed her for 2 month. She was gaining weight and her vomiting episodes were almost gone. Have to emphasize that I started her on one novel protein *(meat she never had before, like rabbit or turkey) which is very important. I also put her food bowl higher, level with her neck just in case she has acid reflux that causes her to vomit. Also, gradually I tried to decrease the time of cooking but she could not take it easily yet. It needs time for GI cats to introduce them to the raw, their stomach and intestines need to heal. But It is the best food and it should be aim to finally introduce them to the raw food. I did one more thing just a week ago, and added digestive enzymes to her and my other cat food. I ordered it from Dr Mercola and have to say that my cat did not vomit a single time even though I gave her half-cooked meat (she had occasional episodes from time to time, especially when she quickly gulps her food. Have to mention that after those initial 2 month of force feeding she started eating by herself with a great appetite). I also plan to add probiotics slowly later as this might further help improve digestion and health overall.