Triaditis in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment
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Watching our cats suffer through illness is never pleasant, but it can be all the more difficult when the illness is complex and difficult to understand. Triaditis in cats can be one such illness, particularly as it involves not one system of the body, but three.
So, what exactly is triaditis? How do vets diagnose it? And can it be treated?
- Triaditis in cats is a combination of pancreatitis, cholangiohepatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Causes include bacterial infections, food intolerance/allergies, and autoimmune disease.
- Diagnosis involves tests, and treatment includes medication, special diets, and hospitalization for acute cases. Recovery is possible with timely treatment.
What is Triaditis in Cats?
“Triaditis” is not a singular illness, but a combination of three separate illnesses that frequently occur together. These three conditions are:
- Pancreatitis: It involved the inflammation of the pancreas.
- Cholangiohepatitis: It involved the inflammation of the gallbladder and bile ducts.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: It involved the inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
Since the pancreas, bile ducts, and intestines are interconnected, inflammation in one area often leads to the other areas being affected as well.
What Causes Cats to Have Triaditis?
There is no single cause of Triaditis in felines, and there are several different situations in which it may occur.
Bacterial infection is one cause of Triaditis. There are many bacteria naturally living in the intestines, but they can cause serious problems if they travel to other parts of the body, such as the pancreas or gallbladder.
Food intolerance or allergies
Food intolerance or allergies in cats are another common cause of Triaditis. This is caused by the cat’s body reacting to certain ingredients in their food leading to inflammation in the intestines, which can also affect the pancreas or bile ducts.
The immune system mistakenly attacks healthy organs, contributing to Triaditis.
Additionally, there may be other unidentified causes for Triaditis that researchers have yet to discover. It is possible for cats to have multiple contributing factors, making it challenging to determine the exact cause. Nonetheless, the treatment approaches are generally similar regardless of the underlying cause.
Signs & Symptoms of Cats with Triaditis
Triaditis in felines present in two forms: "acute" and "chronic," each having distinct symptoms and requiring different treatment approaches.
Symptoms of Acute Triaditis in Cats
Acute Triaditis causes sudden-onset symptoms which can be quite severe. These include:
- Eating less, or not at all
- Lethargy (lack of energy)
- Abdominal pain (which may cause cats to appear “hunched over”)
- Abdominal swelling
- Jaundice (a yellow tinge to the skin, eyes, or gums)
Cats will usually become sick over a couple of days, though occasionally it may take longer than this.
Symptoms of Chronic Triaditis in Cats
Chronic triaditis comes on more slowly, and the symptoms can come and go over time. They can include:
Cats will usually have symptoms on and off for several weeks or even months before it becomes obvious that there is a pattern.
It's important to note that there can be some overlap between acute and chronic triaditis. For instance, cats with chronic triaditis may occasionally experience episodes of acute triaditis, or cats who have had an episode of acute triaditis can progress to chronic triaditis. Some cats may exhibit symptoms that fall somewhere between the two extremes.
How Do Vets Diagnose Triaditis in Cats?
There is no single test that can diagnose triaditis in felines. Your veterinarian may need to run several different tests to get the full picture of what is affecting your cat’s health.
These tests might include:
- Blood tests: These help identify signs of infection or inflammation in the liver or pancreas and assess the absorption of nutrients by the intestines.
- Urine and fecal testing: These tests are performed to rule out other potential causes of the cat's symptoms.
- Ultrasound scan: An ultrasound is used to examine the liver, pancreas, and intestines.
- X-rays: X-rays are taken to check for gallstones and exclude other potential causes of the cat's symptoms.
- Endoscopy or surgery: In some cases, endoscopy or surgery may be necessary to directly examine the gut and obtain biopsies.
- CT scan: A CT scan may be used as an alternative imaging method to examine the liver, pancreas, and intestines.
Not all of these tests are always necessary, and your veterinarian can tell you which tests are best suited to help diagnose your cat.
Treatment of Triaditis in Cats
The treatment approach for acute triaditis differs slightly from chronic triaditis. Cats with acute triaditis, who are often severely ill, typically require hospitalization for treatment.
Treatment for acute triaditis may include:
- Intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated
- Pain relief
- Anti-nausea medication to relieve the vomiting
- Appetite stimulants to encourage them to eat
- A feeding tube if they have not eaten for a few days
- Antioxidants to support the liver
- Antibiotics if an infection is suspected
- Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
Chronic triaditis, on the other hand, is a long-term condition that can usually be managed at home, though some cats with severe symptoms may require hospitalization. Home treatments for chronic triaditis may include:
- A special diet to help reduce inflammation in the intestines
- Corticosteroids or other immune-suppressing medications to reduce inflammation
- Antibiotics if an infection is suspected
- Pain relief
- Appetite stimulants
- Anti-nausea medication
If hospitalization is necessary for chronic triaditis, the treatment approach is similar to that of acute triaditis.
Prognosis for Cats with Triaditis
Acute triaditis is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition in cats. The chances of recovery are higher when treatment is initiated promptly, especially in a hospital setting. Unfortunately, despite treatment, some cats with severe symptoms may not survive.
With timely treatment, many cats can fully recover from acute triaditis. However, in some cases, cats may experience ongoing chronic symptoms in the months following their hospital treatment. The good news is that these chronic symptoms can usually be managed effectively through a combination of a special diet and medication.
While chronic triaditis may not have a complete cure, some cats may only require a long-term dietary change once their initial symptoms have been treated. Others may need medication intermittently or on a long-term basis to control their symptoms.
In conclusion, Triaditis in cats is a serious but usually treatable condition. It can be difficult to diagnose, and your veterinarian may need to run multiple tests to rule out other conditions and find evidence of the triaditis.
Acute triaditis may need treatment in a veterinary hospital, but chronic triaditis can often be treated at home. Most cats with acute triaditis will recover completely with treatment, but chronic triaditis may need a special diet or medication long-term. However, many cats will still live good-quality lives whilst they deal with their condition.
If your cat has some or all of the symptoms of triaditis, then you should consult with your veterinarian to discuss this.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I tell if my cat has triaditis?
Triaditis in felines can cause many different symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. However, many other illnesses can also cause these same symptoms. Triaditis can only be diagnosed based on tests run by a veterinarian.
Is triaditis going to kill my cat?
Triaditis is not often life-threatening. Most cats with acute (sudden onset) triaditis will make a full recovery, though sadly in some cases it can be fatal. Chronic (long-term) triaditis can usually be managed with a special diet and sometimes medication, but in a few cases, cats may not respond to treatment.