Triaditis in cats

Triaditis in cats is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. When cats have triaditis, their pancreas, small intestine and liver are all inflamed at the same time. It can affect cats of any age, sex or breed. Cats with triaditis make up 20-40% of all referrals to specialist vet hospitals.

Triaditis is a nasty, poorly understood illness. Up to 50% of cats with pancreatitis or liver inflammation also have triaditis. The outlook for cats with triaditis is variable. It may be cured if it’s caught in the early stages and treated effectively. But the outlook is poorer for cats with severe pancreatitis or inflammation of the liver. Cats who recover may be prone to repeated episodes. Untreated triaditis can result in death.



Triaditis in cats – what is it?

Triaditis in cats happens when disease affecting one organ in their tummy spreads to the ones next to it as well. In cats, the pancreas, small intestine and gallbladder all link up with one another. The 3 connect in all animals to allow movement of digestive juices. But in cats, the links are a bit too ‘open’. There aren’t enough barricades between them to stop infection or inflammation spreading.

  • Bacteria in the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum) travel up to the pancreas and part of the liver called the gallbladder.
  • Bacteria and inflammatory cells from the intestine trigger inflammation in the ‘new’ locations.



Triaditis in cats – what are the symptoms?

The symptoms of triaditis will include all the symptoms of pancreatitis, liver disease and small intestinal inflammation:

  • Lethargy (extreme tiredness)
  • Eating less or not at all
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Dehydration and weakness
  • Abdominal (tummy) pain
  • Jaundice – yellowing skin and whites of the eyes (the sclera)
triaditis in cats
Jaundice can appear as yellow gums, eyes and ears


Triaditis can become life-threatening very quickly. Sometimes it’s hard to judge how sick your cat really is. Cats are prey animals as well as hunters, so they often hide their illness until it’s very advanced.


Triaditis in cats – which cats are at most risk?

There doesn’t seem to be any age, breed or sex more likely to get triaditis. Perhaps because pancreatitis, liver problems and intestinal disease all have different risk factors. Cats prone to any one of these individual illnesses are also prone to triaditis.

  • Cats who are prone to pancreatitis.
  • Cats with inflammatory bowel disease (inflamed intestines).
  • Cats with existing inflammation of the gallbladder and bile duct in the liver (cholangitis, cholangiohepatitis).



Triaditis in cats – how do vets diagnose it?

Vets diagnose triaditis in cats based on:

The history – current symptoms, other illnesses, current or previously-diagnosed

A full physical examination and the following tests:

  • General blood tests – checking organ health and blood cell counts.
  • Special blood tests –  checking for pancreatitis and how well the liver is working.
  • Imaging – x-rays and ultrasound of the tummy.
  • Specialist investigations – biopsy and bacterial culture of the small intestine, liver and pancreas.

Vet treatment

Triaditis in cats – how do vets treat it?

Cats with triaditis will need intensive vet treatment. They may need to stay at the vet clinic or hospital for this.

  • Fluids to treat dehydration. Given directly into your cat’s veins if they are poorly.
  • Anti-sickness treatment
  • Antibiotics – to treat bacterial infection
  • Special diet and appetite stimulants. Sometimes given through a special feeding tube until your cat starts eating again.
  • Pain relief
  • Medicine for liver disease
  • Medicine to help reduce inflammation in the liver, pancreas, and small intestine.


Home treatment

Caring for a cat with triaditis at home

There aren’t any home cures for triaditis. But you can support their recovery at home once they start treatment:

  • Encourage them to drink water
  • Give prescribed medicines from your vet at the correct time and dose
  • Encourage your cat to eat – keep to foods recommended by your vet
  • Provide a warm, quiet area to let them rest peacefully
  • Keep your cat indoors until fully recovered


Are humans or other cats at risk of triaditis?

  • Triaditis affects individual cats. Other cats and humans won’t ‘catch’ triaditis from a sufferer.
  • Other cats in the household with the same risk factors are equally at risk of developing triaditis.



 Can triaditis in cats be prevented?

Triaditis is a complex condition. There’s no guaranteed way to prevent the illness.

  • Measures to reduce the risk of pancreatitis or small intestinal inflammation may help reduce the risk – keep your cat slim with a healthy body condition score. Feed your cat a highly digestible, good quality diet and avoid sudden changes.
  • Feed a special low-allergen diet (Hills Prescription Diet z/d, d/d, Gastrointestinal biome)
  • Giving probiotics – these will support healthy gut bacteria
  • Keeping up to date with vaccinations and worming. To prevent the avoidable causes of infection and inflammation.


When to worry

Triaditis in cats – when to worry

Triaditis in cats is a life-threatening illness.

Find your nearest vet if your cat is:

  • Vomiting with blood
  • Vomiting repeatedly and not keeping water down
  • Developing yellow-coloured skin, eyes and gums
  • Collapsed or not responding to you
  • Unconscious

Talk to a vet as soon as possible if your cat is:

  • Not eating anything
  • Unusually quiet or withdrawn
  • Losing weight

Joii can help with:

  • Recognising the signs of triaditis
  • Understanding the condition and it’s treatment
  • Giving medicine to cats
  • What to feed a cat with triaditis
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