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What is Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency?

Kittens that are nursing have a higher chance of developing an iron deficiency because of the low levels of iron in milk. This typically resolves as the kitten grows older and is transitioned to a meat-based diet.

Anemia due to iron deficiency in cats is a blood disorder in which the red blood cell mass is decreased. Red blood cell mass is the total mass of erythrocytes, which are a type of red blood cell that contains hemoglobin, which is responsible for transporting oxygen into the bloodstream. In cats, iron deficiency anemia is usually caused by chronic blood loss, but may also be caused by an improper diet. Anemia due to iron deficiency is very rare in cats that are fed a commercial diet.

Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency Average Cost

From 484 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency in Cats

Symptoms may vary depending on the severity of anemia. Some cats may not show symptoms at all, and anemia due to iron deficiency is often an incidental finding. Seek immediate veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Eating soil or rocks
  • Eating litter
  • Other unusual food cravings
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance to move or exercise
  • Pale mucous membranes
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Causes of Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency in Cats

There are a few different causes of anemia due to iron deficiency. The most common is chronic blood loss. This may be caused by a large number of diseases, particularly those affecting the blood. Another cause of anemia due to iron deficiency is an improper diet. This is usually found with a vegetarian or home-cooked diet. Vegetables have lower levels of iron compared to meat products. Cats require a diet that is high in fat and protein. Feeding your cat vegetables or a diet that is low in protein and/or fat can cause serious health problems, including iron deficiency. In some rare cases, exposure to toxins may cause iron deficiency anemia.

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Diagnosis of Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency in Cats

Your vet will be able to make a tentative diagnosis based on a thorough physical examination and presentation of symptoms. Be sure to inform your vet of the extent and duration of your cat’s symptoms, as well as any previous history of blood disorders that you know of. Your vet may also ask for your cat’s complete medical history, so be prepared to provide this information.

Your vet will make a definitive diagnosis by performing blood tests. These may include complete blood cell count, blood chemical profile, and blood smear. Additional diagnostic testing may be utilized, particularly if chronic blood loss is suspected.

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Treatment of Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency in Cats

Treatment may vary depending on the cause of the anemia. Your vet will be able to advise you on a treatment plan based on your cat’s specific needs.

 

The primary objective of treatment in animals with chronic blood loss is to stop future blood loss.  For milder cases of iron deficiency anemia, oral iron supplements are generally prescribed. This is usually in the form of ferrous sulfate, but ferrous gluconate and fumarate are also commonly prescribed. These increase iron absorption in the red blood cells and may cause side effects. Side effects may be minimized by administering a dividing the dose into several smaller doses.

In cats that have been fed an improper diet, dietary changes may be sufficient in treating iron deficiency anemia. In some cats, iron dextran injection may also be an option. However, these injections are painful for animals, so oral supplementation is typically the treatment of choice. In some severe cases of anemia, blood transfusion may be required. This will require your cat to be hospitalized for a short period of time in order to prevent an adverse reaction.

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Recovery of Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency in Cats

Recovery and prognosis may vary depending on the treatment method. Always follow your vet’s post-treatment and/or post-operative instructions carefully. Always administer any medications exactly as directed for the full duration of the recovery period. Never administer any over-the-counter iron supplements made exclusively for human use to your cat. These can worsen the condition and may cause overdose.

Side effects of iron supplementation are generally mild, and mostly involve gastrointestinal irritation which may result in darker feces than usual. If you notice any side effects, contact your vet immediately. They may be able to prescribe additional medications to manage the side effects.

If you have been feeding your cat an improper diet, you will need to transition to a commercial diet that is high in protein and fat.

For mild cases of anemia treated with oral iron supplements, follow-up appointments may not be required. For more severe cases, your vet may schedule follow-up appointments as needed to monitor the condition or to administer additional transfusions, if required.

If you have any questions, or if the condition does not seem to be improving despite treatment, contact your vet immediately.

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Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency Average Cost

From 484 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$800

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Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Mixed kitten

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5 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Weight Loss, Anemic

I took my kitten to the vet, a week ago. He had lost weight and his backbone and hip bones were noticeable. The vet advised that he had a bad infection and was anemic. Prescribed Clindamycin, iron and a medicine to make him thirsty. Kitten was getting better, the back and hip bones were less noticeable and then on Friday I noticed his back and hip bones were again noticeable. He is lethargic and this morning I found a large liquid green circle of diarrhea on the floor. We used a new insect killing gel before the kitten became sick and reapplied it on Wednesday. Could that cause his symptoms?

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, Yes that can be the cause of his issues. I would not use this anymore. There are many great products that are also safe to use around pets. Try to clean the area that you used this and wash your kitten if possible. If he continues to act this way, he may need to see the vet again. Good Luck.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Kitten

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Four Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Pale Pink Gums And Lips

What does my kittens have is she going to die

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello I see from the picture that you provided that your kitten's gums are light pink. If you are concerned, I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam. He may be anemic from parasites. Good luck.

July 24, 2020

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Jicky

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Dom

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

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Licking Faux Leather

I want to prevent my cat Jicky from becoming anemic. Which supplements are safe to give and what is the dose, he’s 18 pounds. He is eating normal and energetic. The vet said he has feline leukemia but it was not confirmed by further testing because of lack of funds. This is why I want to prevent. Thanks!!

Aug. 22, 2018

Jicky's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There isn't really any way to prevent anemia, but this problem is more one that is treated if it is a problem. If Jicky is healthy and acting normally, you may not need to do anything differently to keep him healthy other than feed his a good quality cat food, keep him on flea prevention, and keep him inside where he isn't exposed to other diseases.

Aug. 22, 2018

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Yuuki

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Tortico

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7 Weeks

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy,White Gums And Tongue

Is there any at home remedies I can use for a 7 week old female kitten with severe anemia. I found her weakly stumbling on the side of a busy road and her gums are white, her tongue is white,she's extremely lethargic but her appetite is good and her stools are normal . She's very weak and I want to do all I can to help her put on weight and get up to being a healthy kitten. Is there anything I can feed her,like egg yolk in milk,something cheap and homemade I could do to help her iron increase? Something to help boost her red cell count without breaking my wallet? She really is a sweet kitten.

July 18, 2018

Yuuki's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There aren't really any home remedies for anemia, but parasites can cause that anemia, and having a stool sample checked for hookworms and other parasites, and getting rid of fleas, may allow her body to start to regenerate her red blood cells.

July 18, 2018

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Allie

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Calico

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14 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Anemic

Hello, I just took my cat to the vet this week and they said she was severely anemic. She had lost some weight and I was having trouble getting her to eat the second half of the day so I took her in for a check up. We had her blood tested and she was definitely anemic. She was lethargic, rapid heart beat, loss of appetite and pale gums. The cost was extremely high to maybe get a diagnosis and they were scaring me by talking about putting her down cause she could die if we took her home. We decided to take her home to talk it out since she was responsive, still supper cuddly and still would follow me around the house. Since the visit, we have given her prescribed antibiotics for parasites (just in case) & Liqui Tinic 4x. Her appetite has come back in just 24 hours, she is drinking water and eating all her meals. While she is still a little lazy, she more energetic during the day. My question is, is her appetite coming back and energy level a sufficient sign that she is getting better? I fee like it should be noted she travels for the first time a month ago and she moved into my boyfriends apartment. I held off taking her in because I thought her symptoms were stressed related but her weight loss was becoming concerning. She is seems comfortable in his apartment after a week.

May 2, 2018

Allie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are many factors which may contribute to anaemia, but if she is eating and has more energy I would monitor her for the time being and probably go back in for a blood test to check blood counts etc… to see if there is any improvement in the numbers which would correlate to the improvement in condition. Ensure she is eating and keeping hydrated and check in with your Veterinarian at some time in the next week for another blood test. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 3, 2018

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Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency Average Cost

From 484 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$800

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