Feline Anemia.
Recognizing And Treating Anemia In Cats

Feline anemia isn't a disease in itself, but is one of the cat health problems that is a sign of a number of different cat illnesses.

Anemia is caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood, which happens because the red blood cells aren't carrying enough oxygen. This can happen for 2 reasons - either because there aren't enough red blood cells, or because there's a problem with the red blood cells that means oxygen isn't binding to them as well as it should.

Feline Anemia Causes

One of the most common causes of anemia in cats is cat kidney failure. The kidneys produce a hormone called Erythropoetin, which stimulate the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Diseased kidneys produce less of this hormone, so the bone marrow produces fewer red blood cells as a result.

picture of sleeping grey cat

Cat fleas, cat worms and other cat parasites can also cause anemia - the parasites can literally suck out so much blood the cat is left short and anemia results. This can sometimes be fatal in kittens that are really badly infested, so kitten fleas should always be treated promptly.

Anemia can also occur after any significant blood loss, which could be due to trauma (e.g. following a road accident) or internal bleeding - e.g. caused by cancer or a bleeding ulcer.

Anemia is also one of the side effects of cat leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. It's one of the common feline leukemia symptoms.

Finally, anemia in cats can happen as a result of the cat eating something poisonous.

Feline Anemia Signs

You can sometimes tell if a cat is anemic by looking at his gums, lips and tongue which will appear quite pale and sometimes greyish. However if you're not used to what the normal color is, you may find it quite hard to tell.

Other signs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, and sometimes the cat vomiting which can result in cat dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness, gets tired very quickly on any exertion
  • Gets cold easily
  • Lethargy, feline depression,not interested in playing, grooming etc.

The only sure way to diagnose anemia in cats, and to find out how advanced it is, is for the vet to do a blood test. If you suspect your cat may have anemia, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible.

The vet will then carry out further tests to find out the root cause of the anemia, so that it can then be treated.

Feline Anemia Treatment

The treatment depends on the cause. Once the cause is cured or under control, the anemia should also reduce or go away completely.

Some cats may need a blood transfusion if the anemia is severe, and blood tests will need to be repeated as the underlying cause is treated, to ensure that the anemia is getting less severe.

Some drugs can also help in the treatment of cat anemia - for example iron helps oxygen bind to red blood cells better, and there are drugs which help stimulate the production of Erythropoetin.

Feline anemia can often be treated successfully along with the underlying problem that caused it. But because it can be a sign of a serious disease, and because it's very unpleasant for the cat, if you suspect your cat may have anemia you should take him to the vet as soon as you can.

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