Treating Anemia in Cats

Anemia in cats occurs as a result of low red blood cell counts. It isn't a disease in itself, but occurs as a result of another condition. Let's learn more about the causes and symptoms of this feline blood disease. 

Causes of Feline Anemia

There are a number of conditions that can cause anemia in cats. Anemia is often the result of blood loss. Sometimes, a parasitic infestation such as fleas or tapeworms can cause blood loss sufficient to lead to anemia. Internal or external trauma and bleeding can lead to blood loss anemia, as well.

Feline leukemia is another cause of anemia, since it affects your cat's ability to produce red blood cells and other types of blood cells. Other types of cancer can also lead to anemia. Kidney disease and feline immunodeficiency virus are also known to cause anemia. Nutritional deficiencies and exposure to toxins can also contribute to anemia in cats.

Symptoms of Feline Anemia

Anemia in cats usually causes listlessness and lack of energy. The gums, nose and tongue may take on a pale appearance. If internal bleeding is the culprit, blood may appear in the urine or stool. If external injury and bleeding are the culprit, then your cat's trauma and blood loss should be apparent.

Cats with anemia often stop grooming themselves as they should. They may be sensitive to cold, and may appear to be cold even in warm temperatures. Weakness, nausea, weight loss, irregular heartbeat and weight loss can occur.

Diagnosing Feline Anemia

A blood test should be sufficient to tell your vet whether or not your cat's red blood cell counts are normal. However, it's not enough to just diagnose anemia. Because anemia always occurs as the result of another condition, it's vital to determine the cause of your cat's anemia. 

Your vet will need a complete medical history and physical exam to determine the cause of your cat's anemia. Stool exams, urinalysis, and biochemical profiles can let your vet know if parasites are the cause of your cat's anemia, or if it's the result of decreased organ function due to serious health problems. Bone marrow and other tissue biopsies may be necessary if your vet suspects cancer as the cause of your cat's anemia.

Treating Feline Anemia

Your cat's anemia treatment will depend largely on the cause of his anemia. If parasites, for instance, are responsible, then medications will be administered to eliminate the infestation and the blood loss anemia.

If blood loss is responsible for your cat's anemia, a blood transfusion may be necessary. Even if your cat's anemia does not occur due to blood loss, a transfusion may be administered if the anemia is bad enough. A blood transfusion can help to stabilize your cat's condition long enough for the vet to make a diagnosis.

Once the diagnosis is made, and the underlying cause of the anemia treated, the condition should clear up. Your vet may want to perform regular blood tests to make sure your cat is continuing to produce adequate red blood cells. If not, your cat may need continued blood transfusions in addition to treatment for his underlying condition.