Did you know that cats, just like humans, can be affected by the symptoms of anemia? Our St. Louis veterinarians share some information about anemia in cats, what the different types of anemia are and how it can be treated in cats.
Anemia in Cats
When your cat experiences a drop in the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin within their body, this is referred to as anemia. Anemia is not a specific disease in itself, it’s typically a symptom of another disease or condition.
If your cat is suffering from the symptoms of anemia they may seem to be more lethargic than usual, seems uninterested in treats or other food, or is breathing rapidly even when lying still.
The most common symptoms of anemia in cats
Because anemia itself is a symptom of another disease, the symptoms and severity will depend on what the underlying condition is.
The most common symptoms of anemia in cats can include:
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Lethargy or lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
Other symptoms of anemia in cats may include:
- Increased heart rate
- Jaundice (yellowish color in eyes, skin or gums if red blood cells have been destroyed)
- Pale or white gums
Steps to take if you see signs of anemia in your cat
If you become aware of any of the symptoms above then it is important to schedule a visit for your cat to see their veterinarian as soon as you can. 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 a diagnosis for the underlying injury, illness or disease that’s causing symptoms in order to ensure the anemia is treated properly.
If you discover blood in your cat’s feces or vomit, this is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention from your vet.
How to treat anemia in cats
The severity of the underlying condition responsible for the anemia will determine what treatment plan is best.
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.
Non-regenerative anemia in cats can typically be resolved by diagnosing and treating the underlying disease.
For secondary AIHA, the goal will be to treat the underlying cause, potentially with toxin antidotes or numerous antibiotics.
Your vet may also recommend changes to medication and diet. If your cat is diagnosed with severe 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.