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Signs & Causes of Anemia in Cats

Are you worried that your cat might be anemic? Our vets in Central Illinois share some insights on the causes, signs, symptoms and treatment options for anemia in cats. 

What is anemia in cats?

Anemia is a medical term that refers to a drop in hemoglobin and the number of red blood cells circulating throughout your cat's body. While not a specific disease in itself, it's typically a symptom of another condition or disease. 

If you find that your cat seems uninterested in treats or food, is breathing rapidly even when lying still or that they have been acting more lethargic than usual, they might be suffering from anemia. 

What are the symptoms of anemia in cats?

Which symptoms of anemia your cat will display depend on the underlying cause of illness, in addition to its severity and duration. 

Common symptoms of anemia in cats include:

  • Lethargy or lack of energy 
  • Rapid breathing
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms can include:

  • White or pale gums 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Weakness 
  • Jaundice (yellowish color in eyes, gums or skin if red blood cells have been destroyed)

What should I do if I see signs of anemia in my cat?

If your cat is displaying any of the symptoms above, book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible for an exam. 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 the underlying injury, illness or disease that’s causing symptoms.

If you discover blood in your cat’s feces or vomit, this is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention from your vet.

How is anemia treated 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.

Is your cat is showing signs of anemia or other symptoms you're concerned about? Contact us today to book an examination for your kitty.

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