Anemia in Cats

Diseases that cause anemia in cats can be grouped in 3 categories..

  1. Diseases that cause blood loss

  2. Diseases that cause hemolysis (red blood cell breakdown)

  3. Diseases that decrease the production of red blood cells

What is anemia?

Anemia in Cats

Anemia is the presence of too few red blood cells. Most cases of anemia are the result of some other disease at work within the body. 

Anemic pets must breath faster to keep their bodies oxygenated and their heart beats faster. They often have low energy levels and pale or yellowish gums. 

Any chronic illness can cause anemia. This type of anemia is usually mild to moderate, and does not significantly impact the pet in most cases. 

Infectious disease is known to cause anemia in cats. Feline Infectious Anemia is a term used recently to describe infectious organisms that cause anemia. There are many infectious organisms that cause anemia. 

Feline Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis is another term used to describe anemia in cats. Feline Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis literally means a blood infection of Mycoplasma organisms in cats. 


What happens when a cat is infected? 
An infected sick cat is pale and weak. Anemia is a decreased amount of hemoglobin and red blood cells in the bloodstream. This is caused by the cat's immune system coating red blood cells with antibodies which are then removed from circulation by the spleen. 

This kills the organism and the iron is then used for new red blood cells but the problem is that so many red blood cells are being destroyed that the cat becomes anemic. 

Anemic cats often eat dirt or litter in an attempt to consume iron. If your cat is anemic, a fever may be present. 

When a cat is newly infected, it can take up to one month before adequate numbers of parasites are present to actually make the cat sick. Mortality is highest during the month following this initial stage. If the cat recovers, it becomes a carrier though stress can re-activate the infection. 
Feline anemia can also be caused by fleas or other parasites. Some cats have developed the condition after having suffered a severe blood loss, either from trauma or through an internal cause, such as a bleeding ulcer or tumor. 

Research has also shown that many cats get anemia as a result of ingesting a toxic substance. These substances can be as benign as an aspirin or Tylenol, which is why it is critical to never give any human over-the-counter medication to cats or other pets. 

Animals that suddenly develop a case of anemia may be clinically sicker than animals with chronic anemia. This is because animals can get used to the anemia over time and may feel relatively good in spite of the anemia. 

Signs of anemia depend on the underlying cause. Therefore, your pet may show some of these signs or maybe none of them. 

Symptoms of anemia in cats..

  • Irregular heartbeat


  • Lethargy


  • Loss of appetite


  • Weakness


  • Weight loss


  • Discoloration of nose, tongue and/or gums


  • Nausea


  • Inattention to grooming


  • Vomiting


  • Abdominal distension


  • Episodes of collapse


  • Susceptibility to cold


  • Blood in feces or urine

Treating anemia in cats 
The most important component of treating anemia is treating the underlying disease that is causing the anemia. If anemia is severe, patients might require a blood transfusion, or multiple transfusions. 

Hemolytic anemia 
Hemolytic anemia is an immune-mediated disease where red blood cells are destroyed by your own body. Hemolysis may also be caused by vaccine reactions, cancer, exposure to certain drugs, heavy metal toxicity (zinc, copper), and infectious diseases along with several tick-borne diseases. 


› Anemia in Cats

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