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Triaditis in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

Triaditis in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment | BetterVet

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 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?

What is Triaditis in Cats?

“Triaditis” is not a single illness, but rather three different illnesses that commonly occur together. These three illnesses are:

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Cholangiohepatitis (inflammation of the gallbladder and bile ducts)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (inflammation of the stomach and intestines)

The pancreas, bile ducts, and intestines are all connected, and so inflammation in one of these areas can commonly lead to the other areas being affected.

What Causes Triaditis in Cats?

There is no single cause of Triaditis in cats, 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 allergy is 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.
  • Autoimmune disease – where the body’s immune system becomes confused and attacks normal, healthy organs – is another cause of Triaditis.
  • Other issues may also cause Triaditis, and it is likely that scientists have not yet identified all the possible causes.

Some cats may have more than one of these issues, and it can often be difficult to pinpoint exactly what has caused their Triaditis. However, the treatment is similar regardless of the cause.

What Are the Symptoms of Triaditis in Cats?

There are two different forms of Triaditis in cats – “acute”, and “chronic”. They have different symptoms and need different kinds of treatment, too.

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)
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain (which may cause cats to appear “hunched over”)
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Jaundice (a yellow tinge to the skin, eyes, or gums)
  • Fever

Cats will usually become sick over a couple of days, though occasionally it may take longer than this.

Chronic Triaditis in Cats

Chronic triaditis comes on more slowly, and the symptoms can come and go over time. They include:

  • Weight loss
  • Eating less
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal swelling

Cats will usually have symptoms on and off for several weeks or even months before it becomes obvious that there is a pattern.

There is some overlap between acute and chronic triaditis. For example, sometimes, cats with chronic triaditis may develop acute triaditis, or cats who have an episode of acute triaditis can go on to develop chronic triaditis. Some cats may have symptoms that fall somewhere between the two extremes.

How Do You Diagnose Triaditis in Cats?

There is no single test that can diagnose triaditis in cats. 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 to look for signs of infection or inflammation in the liver or pancreas, and to look at how well the intestines are absorbing nutrients.
  • Urine and fecal testing to rule out other possible causes of your cat’s symptoms
  • An ultrasound scan to examine the liver, pancreas, and intestines
  • X-rays to look for gallstones and rule out other possible causes of your cat’s symptoms
  • Endoscopy or surgery to examine the gut and take biopsies
  • A CT scan to examine the liver, pancreas, and intestines in a different way to an ultrasound.

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 of acute triaditis in cats is slightly different from the treatment of chronic triaditis. Many cats with acute triaditis are quite sick and need to be treated in a veterinary hospital.

Treatment might 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 is a long-term condition and can usually be treated at home, although some cats may need to stay in the hospital when their symptoms are severe. Treatments at home might 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 a hospital stay is needed, the treatment is similar to acute triaditis. 

Prognosis for Cats with Triaditis

Acute triaditis is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. Cats are more likely to recover if they are treated sooner and if they have treatment in the hospital. However, sadly, some cats with severe symptoms will pass away despite treatment. 

With prompt treatment, many cats will recover fully from acute triaditis. However, some may develop chronic symptoms in the months following their treatment in the hospital. These are usually manageable with a special diet and medication. 

Chronic triaditis often cannot be completely cured, but some cats will only require a change in diet as a long-term treatment once their initial symptoms have been treated. Other cats may need medication, either intermittently or long-term, 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 your should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss this.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is triaditis in cats?

Triaditis is inflammation in the liver, pancreas, and intestines. It may be caused by many different things, including infection, auto-immune inflammation, or food sensitivity. 

How can I tell if my cat has triaditis?

Triaditis in cats 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.

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