It is possible for cats to become affected by anemia. Our Suffolk County vets discuss what anemia is, what the symptoms of anemia in cats are and how to treat it.
What is anemia?
Anemia is a medical term that represents a drop in the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin circulating in your cat’s body. Anemia is not a specific disease in itself, it’s typically a symptom of another disease or condition.
If you notice that your cat has been acting more lethargic than usual, seems uninterested in treats or other food, or is breathing rapidly even when lying still, they may be suffering from anemia.
What are the possible causes of anemia in cats?
The underlying cause of illness, as well as its severity and duration, determine which symptoms of anemia your cat will exhibit.
The most common symptoms can include:
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Lethargy or lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
Other symptoms may include:
- Increased heart rate
- Jaundice (yellowish color in eyes, skin or gums if red blood cells have been destroyed)
- Pale or white gums
When should I bring my cat to the vet?
If your cat is displaying any of the symptoms above, book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible for an exam. The vet may take a series of diagnostic blood tests. This is often called a complete blood count (CBC).
Your cat will need an official diagnosis and potentially more tests to identify which type of anemia he has, as well as the underlying injury, illness or disease that’s causing symptoms.
If you discover blood in your cat’s feces or vomit, this is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention from your vet.
Treatment for anemia in cats
The severity of the underlying condition responsible for the anemia will determine what treatment plan is best.
Your vet’s diagnosis will be based on a comprehensive assessment of your cat’s health history and clinical symptoms, in addition to a physical examination. The exam may involve bone marrow testing, a complete blood cell count, iron testing, and urinalysis.
Non-regenerative anemia in cats can typically be resolved by diagnosing and treating the underlying disease.
For secondary AIHA, the goal will be to treat the underlying cause, potentially with toxin antidotes or numerous antibiotics.
Your vet may also recommend changes to medication and diet. If your cat is diagnosed with severe anemia, a blood transfusion may be required.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.