While certain concerns such as anemia may appear as though they are their own concern, they are often symptoms of an underlying condition. Our internist vets in Deer Park discuss anemia in cats, the symptoms and causes and how it can be treated.
Veterinary Internal Medicine: Anemia in Cats
Anemia occurs when the number of red blood cells or hemoglobin (or both) circulating in your cat’s body begins to fall drastically. While many people think that anemia is a condition itself it is actually a symptom that develops along with another illness 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, he may be suffering from anemia.
What are the different types of anemia in cats?
Did you know that there are actually a few different types of anemia that can affect cats? Each of these types has its own set of circumstances. The different types are as follows:
Regenerative anemia in cats can be caused by sudden or acute blood loss, whether a result of parasites, infection, serious illness (such as cancer) or injury. This type of anemia can also be caused by an illness or condition that disintegrates red blood cells.
This type of anemia is known to affect younger cats more than older ones.
Causes for non-regenerative anemia in cats include liver disease, bone marrow disorders, kidney failure and other chronic diseases.
If a cat is experiencing non-regenerative anemia they are likely also suffering from kidney failure. This is because the kidneys are responsible for creating a hormone that helps to produce red blood cells which makes non-regenerative anemia and kidney failure go hand in hand.
This is the type of anemia that primarily affects older cats.
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) in cats is an immune system disease in which the body destroys red blood cells. The disease is also sometimes referred to as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA).
AIHA is more commonly secondary since an underlying toxin or disease alters the surface of the red blood cells. Most cats with AIHA have severe anemia, which causes symptoms such as pale gums (usually, the gums are normally pink or red in color).
What are the common symptoms of anemia in cats?
The effects of anemia on your cat will vary greatly depending on the condition which is behind it.
Some of the symptoms that are most commonly seen with anemia 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
What steps should you take if you think your cat has anemia?
It is important to bring your cat in to be evaluated by an internal medicine vet in Deer Park as soon as you notice the sign associated with anemia. 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 happen to notice blood in your cat's feces or vomit has any signs of blood in it you should reach out to your nearest emergency vet as soon as possible.
What is the prognosis for cats with anemia?
The treatment of your cat will vary depending on the condition that they are suffering from.
Like many other conditions the sooner that the condition affecting your cat is diagnosed the sooner they can be treated allowing for their best chance of a full recovery. 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.
If your cat has non-regenerative anemia, this can typically be resolved with vet internal medicine in Deer Park by diagnosing and treating the underlying disease. If kidney disease is the culprit, your vet may recommend long-term hormone treatments to help red blood cell production.
For secondary AIHA, the goal will be to treat the underlying cause, potentially with toxin antidotes or numerous antibiotics.
Your internal medicine vet in Deer Park may also recommend changes to medication and diet and will work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your cat’s needs, and designed to treat the underlying condition. If your cat is diagnosed with a severe case of 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.