Methemoglobinemia in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment What To Know About Feline Methemoglobinemia and How To Manage It

Methemoglobinemia in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

All cats are susceptible to the uncommon but possibly fatal illness known as methemoglobinemia. Learn more about this disease in this article.

Methemoglobinemia is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition affecting cats of all ages and breeds. It occurs when the blood has excessive methemoglobin, which hinders the normal transport of oxygen to tissues and organs. Cats may develop methemoglobinemia for several reasons, including taking particular drugs, consuming chemicals, or inheriting a genetic susceptibility.

In addition to discussing the origins, signs, diagnoses, and available therapies for feline methemoglobinemia, this article offers advice on how to avoid and cure the illness.


Methemoglobinemia in cats can be brought on by many factors, such as:

  • Ingesting certain toxins: Cats may develop methemoglobinemia through exposure to certain substances, such as the nitrates and nitrites present in fertilizers, insecticides, and tainted water supplies. For example, Orajel for cats can be fatal and should be avoided.

  • Acetaminophen toxicity in cats: Acetaminophen poisoning may decrease the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen.

  • Medications: Some medications, including topical anesthetics like Dermalone, pain relievers like PrednisoLone, and antibiotics like Clavamox Oral, can lead to methemoglobinemia as a side effect. For example, Tylenol for cats should be avoided when it can.

  • Genetic predisposition: Due to a genetic abnormality, several cat breeds, including Siamese and Abyssinian, are more prone to developing methemoglobinemia.

  • Inherited enzyme deficiencies: Some cats may inherit enzyme deficiencies, such as glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, which can lead to methemoglobinemia.

  • Exposure to certain gases: Cats who breathe in certain gases, including nitrous oxide or nitrogen dioxide, may develop methemoglobinemia.

  • Infectious diseases: Methemoglobinemia can be a secondary consequence of several viral disorders, such as the feline leukemia virus, under extremely uncommon circumstances.


Depending on the severity of the ailment, methemoglobinemia symptoms in cats can vary, but typical signs include:

  • Cyanosis in cats

  • Shortness of breath

  • Lethargy

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Difficulty when breathing

  • Pale mucous membranes

  • Vomiting and Diarrhea

  • Collapse or seizures in aggravated cases

Treatment Options

The extent of the problem and the underlying cause will determine the available treatments for cats with methemoglobinemia. However, treatment aims to enhance blood oxygen levels while addressing the underlying cause of methemoglobinemia. Therapy choices might be:

  • Oxygen therapy: The cat's breathing can be improved, and its blood oxygen level can be raised by giving it extra oxygen.

  • Medications: Methemoglobinemia can be treated with methylene blue, which helps reprocess methemoglobin to produce regular hemoglobin.

  • Fluid therapy: Intravenous fluids can enhance blood flow and circulation and assist the cat's body in eliminating contaminants.

  • Blood transfusions: A blood transfusion may be required to replenish the cat's blood with healthy red blood cells in extreme circumstances.

  • Addressing the underlying cause: Whether methemoglobinemia is brought on by consuming chemicals, inherited genetic susceptibility, or exposure to specific gases, it is crucial to determine and address the underlying cause. The cat's methemoglobinemia can be prevented from returning by addressing the underlying cause.

  • Hospitalization: Cats with severe methemoglobinemia may need to be hospitalized for close observation and supportive care.

Generally, the prognosis for cats with methemoglobinemia might differ based on the severity of the ailment and the speed at which therapy is started. If you think your cat could have methemoglobinemia, having them checked out is crucial.

Prevention Tips

Cats can prevent methemoglobinemia by recognizing and avoiding potential toxic sources and treating any underlying medical issues that can make a cat more susceptible. Here are some suggestions for prevention:

  • Keep toxic substances out of reach: Keep fertilizers, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals out of reach of your cat to avoid accidental ingestion.

  • Monitor your cat's medication intake: If your cat needs medicine, carefully follow the dose recommendations and watch for any possible adverse effects. For instance, an ibuprofen dose for cats should be monitored and discussed with a vet before administration.

  • Recognize and avoid potential sources of toxins: Be aware of any potential toxin sources in your cat's environment, such as contaminated water sources, and take precautions to avoid exposure.

  • Regular veterinary examinations: The risk of methemoglobinemia in your cat can be reduced by identifying any underlying medical issues with routine veterinary examinations.

  • Genetic Testing: Consider genetic testing to find any potential carriers of the gene if you have a breed of cat that is prone to methemoglobinemia.

  • Get quick veterinary care: Get emergency veterinarian care if you think your cat may have consumed a poisonous substance or is displaying methemoglobinemia signs.

By taking these prevention tips, you can help minimize the risk of methemoglobinemia in your cat and ensure they lead a happy and healthy life.

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