Diagnosing Feline Anemia

Feline anemia, like anemia in humans, refers to a condition caused by an abnormal level of red blood cells. The result of this insufficient red blood cell count is decreased oxygen in the blood, which may contribute to a variety of adverse health effects. Anemia is a serious condition, but is one that is secondary to other underlying conditions. As such, and because there are a number of different medical conditions that may contribute to or cause feline anemia, diagnosis is oftentimes very difficult. Continue reading for an overview of some of the primary symptoms of feline anemia and how to make an accurate diagnosis.

Symptoms of Feline Anemia

The first step toward diagnosing and treating feline anemia is recognition of the signs of the condition. Feline anemia may develop quickly or it may be chronic, but the earlier that you are able to detect the condition and take your pet for a veterinary examination, the earlier that you will be able to treat the condition and address the underlying cause of the anemia.

The most common symptoms of feline anemia include the following:

  • Lethargy and general weakness
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Loss of color to the nose, gums and tongue
  • Blood in stool or urine
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty moving, particularly in cold environments

If your pet is suffering from one or more of these symptoms, or if the symptoms persist for more than a few days, have him examined by a veterinarian. In many cases, feline anemia will appear as one of a number of symptoms relevant to the underlying condition.

Diagnosing Feline Anemia

A diagnosis of feline anemia is relatively easy to make. Your veterinarian will begin with a physical examination and will confirm the diagnosis with a blood test. Typically, the blood test will involve a complete blood count, which charts your cat’s iron, red blood cell and erythrocyte levels. Anemic cats will have abnormally low readings in each of these categories.

The diagnosis of feline anemia is only a step toward treating the condition. In emergency situations, where death or permanent injury are imminent, a blood transfusion may be helpful in stabilizing your cat. However, long-term treatment of feline anemia requires treatment of the cause of the condition, not just the symptoms itself.

Feline anemia may be caused by a wide variety of ailments, ranging from mild to extremely severe. Some of the most common causes of feline anemia include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Ingestion of a harmful or toxic chemical
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • Severe blood loss

In order to treat your cat’s anemia, your veterinarian will likely run an additional series of tests to help determine the underlying cause of the condition. The nature and scope of these tests is dependent upon any other symptoms that your cat presents. Help to do your part by being aware of any abnormal behaviors or medical conditions that your cat displays, as this will help your veterinarian to make a proper diagnosis.