Treatment for Cat Anemia How to Treat Feline Anemia and its Causes

BY | January 20 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
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Since there are many factors that can cause feline anemia, there are just as many treatment options. If caught early, anemia can be cured and your cat will be back to feeling back to normal in no time.

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Anemia is a condition that can develop in cats who do not have enough red blood cells in their bloodstream. Because the job of red blood cells is to carry oxygen to the tissues, an inadequate number results in less oxygen getting delivered, and this can cause symptoms like lethargy, weakness, and pale gums. If left untreated, anemia can seriously hinder your catโ€™s quality of life, and in severe cases, it could also result in death.

Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available for cats suffering from anemia, and for many cats, the prognosis is very good.

Diagnosing Cat Anemia

Anemia is typically diagnosed at your veterinarian through complete blood work that analyzes the components of your catโ€™s blood and examines red blood cell count. The most common blood test performed when diagnosing feline anemia is the PCV or packed cell volume. The PCV is a very quick test that reveals the percentage of red blood cells present in your catโ€™s bloodstream. If the percentage is lower than normal, your veterinarian will diagnose anemia.

Other tests can be important in determining what is causing the anemia. These tests may include:

  • Blood smear to check for blood parasites
  • Bone marrow biopsy to provide information about the condition of the bone marrow (which creates red blood cells)
  • Fecal parasite exam to check for parasites in the intestines that may be causing blood loss
  • Urinalysis to evaluate your catโ€™s electrolyte levels, which can provide insight into your catโ€™s overall health
  • Biochemical profile to look at your catโ€™s organ functions and overall health condition
  • Feline leukemia (FeLV) test to check for one of the primary causes of anemia
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) test to check for feline immunodeficiency virus, or feline AIDS -- another common cause of anemia

Treating Cat Anemia

Treatment for your catโ€™s anemia will depend on the severity of their condition as well as the underlying cause.

  • If your catโ€™s condition is life-threatening, a blood transfusion may be necessary. A blood transfusion serves to stabilize your cat so that its body will be receptive to other treatments.
  • If the anemia is caused by parasites, antibiotics are usually prescribed for several weeks, and the parasites themselves are treated.
  • If your catโ€™s anemia resulted in a weakened immune system, immunosuppressants such as corticosteroids may be prescribed.
  • Surgery may be required for some conditions that trigger anemia, for example, tumors or internal trauma that is causing blood loss.
  • If your cat is suffering from anemia because of poor nutrition, replacing the missing nutrients and getting your cat on a complete and balanced diet can reverse the condition.
  • If your catโ€™s anemia resulted in an iron deficiency, iron supplements may be prescribed.
  • Other treatments will vary depending on the severity and cause of your catโ€™s anemia.

If you notice that your cat is suffering from symptoms of anemia, contact your veterinarian right away. While some cases of anemia are mild, others can be extremely dangerous. Your veterinarian will work with you to come up with a plan for getting them back to good health.

The Causes of Feline Anemia that You Need to Know What is feline anemia?

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 supply 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 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.

More on Cat Health

5 Common Cat Problems and Health Issues
How to Change Cat Food
Why Cats Eat Grass & Other Cat Habits

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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