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Feline anemia is a situation defined by an insufficient number of red blood cells in circulation. Red blood cells are the storehouse of hemoglobin, an iron-rich molecule that binds efficiently to oxygen. This is responsible for absorbing oxygen from the air we breathe and supplying it to vital organs of the body.In the case of feline anemia, the ability of the cat to absorb oxygen and supplying it to body tissues decreases. As a result, your cat becomes lethargic and weak. It may also cause difficulty in breathing because your cat will try to force more air into the lungs to compensate for the lack of oxygen supply. Feline anemia can be fatal for your cat if it goes untreated.What causes feline anemia?
There are basically two types of feline anemia: regenerative and non-regenerative anemia. Regenerative anemia can be caused by hemolysis, a condition where there is a loss of blood or destruction of red blood cells. The bone marrow is capable of producing red blood cells in larger quantities, but it's not enough to replace the amount of blood lost. Feline regenerative anemia can be a result of:
- Hemorrhage caused by internal bleeding or an accident
- Parasites breeding in the cat's body
- Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, in which the cat's body destroys its own red blood cells.
- Heinz body hemolytic anemia.
Some other causes of regenerative feline anemia include improper cat food, certain types of medications, or toxins like propylene glycol or acetaminophen. An unusual cause of feline regenerative anemia is a condition known as neonatal iso-erythrolysis, in which cats with Type A blood consume colostrum from a mother with Type B blood.On the other hand, feline nonregenerative anemia is characterized by an inadequate production of red blood cells by the bone marrow of your cat. Causes of nonregenerative anemia include feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or feline leukemia virus (FeLV), starvation or poor nutrition, and certain types of cancers and inflammatory disease.Chronic kidney disease is also seen to be a common cause of non-regenerative anemia in cats. For the bone marrow to produce red blood cells, it needs a proper supply of erythropoietin. This glycoprotein hormone is produced in the kidney. Cats with chronic kidney disease cannot produce this hormone, thus resulting in anemic conditions.Regenerative anemia is mostly seen in young cats, while nonregenerative anemia is seen in middle-aged or older cats. Diagnosis of feline anemia is performed after testing blood count, blood smear, biochemical profile, fecal matter and antibodies. Finding the underlying cause of feline anemia is important since anemia is an indication of a graver condition. The treatment will, however, depend on the cause and seriousness of the condition.