Cat Anemia Explained

Cat anemia is the condition caused by a low red blood cell count. The red cells have the task to carry the oxygen to the lungs and other tissues through the blood. If the tissues are deprived by the necessary oxygen, the body of the cat is weaker and may have different reactions.

Cats may have anemia at any age and the condition may be hereditary.

Symptoms of Cat Anemia

A cat with anemia lacks energy, sleeps more than usual and is pale. You may notice the paleness in the gums, tongue and generally in all mucous membranes.

At times, the cat will have palpitations due to irregular heart beat. The heart will try to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the tissues by sending more blood to the tissues and beating faster.

Anemia will weaken the cat's immune system, so he will be more prone to viruses and diseases.

The cat with anemia is less tolerant to cold.

Unfortunately, these symptoms can indicate other diseases and sometimes the symptoms are less evident.

Diagnosing Feline Anemia

Feline anemia may be diagnosed by running some blood tests.

Low Red Blood Cell Count

Anemia means lack of blood in Greek. The red cells are also known as erythrocytes and help delivering the oxygen to the body's tissues. When the red blood cell count is lower or the hemoglobin count is decreased, the cat is anemic. The hemoglobin is a biomolecule in the red cells that contains iron; hemoglobin binds to oxygen, helping with the oxygen transport. If the hemoglobin has a deficient oxygen binding capacity, anemia is present.

Decreased Packed Cell Volume (PCV)

The packed cell volume (pcv), also known as the hematocrit or erytrocite volume fraction is the proportion of red blood cells in the blood. The normal value of packed cell volume in cats is between 29 and 50. When the packed cell volume is decreased, the cat has anemia.

Causes of Anemia in Cats

Anemia in cats may be caused by trauma and blood loss or a number of health conditions: kidney disease or kidney failure, hemoglobin oxidation, iron deficiency, deficiency of folic acids or vitamins, hypothyroidism, abnormal red blood cell production, bone marrow disorders or the feline leukemia virus.

Anemia may be caused by parasites that feed on the blood of the cat: fleas or hookworms. Blood parasites such as mycoplasma haemofelis or mycoplasma haemominutum may also cause anemia.

Hemolysis, which means the breaking open of red cells in the blood may cause anemia.

Cats may suffer from Heinz anemia after ingesting onions or acetaminophen, which are toxic for the cat.

Feline Anemia Treatment

The anemia treatment depends on the cause of the condition.

Parasites will be treated with special formula shampoos and dewormers.

Blood parasites will need antibiotics.

Blood transfusion may be needed if the anemia is severe. The blood type of the cat must be determined prior to the transfusion to reduce the chances of complications caused by blood incompatibility.

The vet can analyze your cat's condition and determine the best treatment.