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What is Anemia?

Anemia is the term veterinarians use to describe a reduction of red blood cells in the feline’s circulatory system. Red blood cells, known as erythrocytes, are equipped with a special iron containing molecule known as hemoglobin. This special molecule is what allows the red blood cells to pick up oxygen from the lungs and carry it to the body’s various organs. When the red blood cells are low in quantity, the feline begins developing symptoms related to a low oxygen supply, including difficulties in breathing. Anemia can be the result of disease, hormone abnormalities, bone marrow abnormalities, nutrition, or toxicity. 

Anemia Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Anemia in Cats

Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients to the body, therefore a decreased level of these red blood cells cause clinical signs associated with these deficiencies including: 

  • Exercise intolerance
  • Lethargy 
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Pale mucous membranes (gums)
  • Jaundice: yellowing of the mucus membranes and inside the ears
  • Pica: craving and consumption of inappropriate elements 
  • Tachycardia: increased heart rate 
  • Tachypnoea: increased respiratory rate 
  • Weakness

Types 

Anemia in cats is classified as either regenerative or non-regenerative. 

Regenerative Anemia 

In regenerative anemia, the feline’s bone marrow responds to the decreased level of circulating red blood cells by increasing erythrocyte production. Cases of red blood cell destruction and bleeding are usually classified as regenerative. 

Non-regenerative Anemia

In non-regenerative anemia, the feline’s bone marrow does not respond to the low level of red blood cells and does not produce new hemoglobin cells. Abnormalities of bone marrow and a decrease in the hormone that stimulates the production of erythrocytes are often classified as non-regenerative anemia. 

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Causes of Anemia in Cats

Causes of regenerative anemia include:

  • Hypophosphatemia: blood phosphate deficiency common in diabetic cats. 
  • Neonatal Isoerythrolysis: immunologic newborn cat disease. 
  • Inherited red blood cell disorders (common in Somali and Abyssinian cat breeds)
  • Infections (viruses, bacteria and other infectious organisms such as feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia)
  • Toxins, such as metals, chemicals, foods (e.g. onions, fava beans), plants 
  • Human medications, such as acetaminophen and aspirin 

Causes of non-regenerative anemia include: 

  • Myelofibrosis: disease that leads to enlargement of the liver and spleen.
  • Myelodysplasia: disorder of the bone marrow 
  • Primary Leukemia: a type of white blood cell cancer 
  • Pure Cell Aplasia: severe reduction of red blood cells only linked to viral infection
  • Aplastic Anemia: a disorder in which the bone marrow loses its ability to grow new blood cells. 
  • Anemia of Chronic Disease: anemia is the result of a long-term inflammatory infection, hyperthyroidism, hormonal disorder or tumor. 
  • Nutritional deficiencies (iron deficiency) 
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Diagnosis of Anemia in Cats

Anemia in cats can be diagnosed through a review of your cat’s medical history, a physical exam, routine diagnostic tests, and through the consultation with the cat owner. The veterinarian will want to conduct a differential diagnosis on your cat to eliminate the possibility of ingestion of a toxic substance, infection, and organ failure, which commonly causes anemia. A urinalysis and blood work are likely tests to further diagnose a feline with suspected anemia.

CBC Complete Blood Cell Count

A complete blood cell count measures the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, which provides important information to the veterinarian. 

PCV Packed Cell Volume or Hematocrit

Measures the percentage of blood volume occupied by erythrocytes, which provides important information regarding the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. 

Blood Smear

A blood smear is a test performed to identify blood cell abnormalities, revealing irregularities in size and shape. 

Bone Marrow Aspirate Biopsy

The act of using a fine needle to take bone marrow from inside the bones for observation. 

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Treatment of Anemia in Cats

If the feline is in a severe stage of anemia, the veterinarian may request a blood transfusion to stabilize the cat before treating the underlying cause for the low red blood cell levels. The feline will need to have a blood test conducted before receiving the blood transfusion, as the incorrect blood type could result in adverse reactions. A donor or supply will be located, and infusions will take place while in hospital care. 

If the anemia is caused by an infection, toxic substance, organ failure, hormone deficiency, nutrient deficiency, or feline viral infection, the veterinarian will prescribe treatment based on the specific cause. 

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Recovery of Anemia in Cats

Felines that have received blood transfusions may be hospitalized for a few days depending on the severity of the condition. Non-regenerative anemia feline cases will require continuous treatment and veterinary follow-up appointments to balance the number of circulating red blood cells, preventing a life-threatening anemic condition. Regenerative anemia cases will return to normal in most cases as soon as the underlying condition is addressed and treated.

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Anemia Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Anemia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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plomito

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siam

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5 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Doesnt Want To Eat
Doesnt Want To Eats

my cat is really bad he cant stand up and he keeps trying to sleep and I already took him to the vet and thry gave me some pills but what I see is thaya my cat is really bad what can I do

Aug. 7, 2018

plomito's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Since I don't have any way of knowing why Plomito is anemic, it is difficult for me to comment on how to treat him. I'm not sure what medication he is on, but it may take some time to take effect. It would be best to call your veterinarian, as they know more what is going on with him and how he is being treated, and see if there is anything more that you can do for him.

Aug. 7, 2018

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Frankie

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Siamese

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Breathing Rate, Lethargy.

Hello I have a 4 year Siamese, Frankie. He disappeared for 2 weeks and came back hardly able to walk, weight gone from 5.2 to 4 kilos, severly dehydrated and starved, eyes turned a vivid gree, eyes so sunken could herdly be seen, jaundice evedent. Syringe fed water and liquified food for 3 days until could get to a vet. He was improving but slowly and by then could not walk. They did blood tests. alanine aminotransferase 658, alkaline phosphtase 5. No sign of infection. Haemocrit 17.7, haemoglobin 6.4, erithrocytes 4.16. He has been on IV fluids and intensive feeding due to the lipidosis. They repeated blood works today..erythrocytes 3.52,haemoglobin 5.5,haemocrit 15.4,alanine aminotransferase 191,alkaline phosphatase 9.Bilirubin went fron 2.43 to 0.83, creatine went from 1.70 to 0.96. So his anaemia is getting worse. Is there any chance he has been poisened? I live in a remote part of agricultural area and they do not treat animals well.

July 26, 2018

Frankie's Owner

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0 Recommendations

There are many different causes for anaemia and jaundice (commonly seen with haemolytic anaemia) which may include poisoning, in rural areas there are a lot of chemicals used on the land and just left lying around by farmers so it is possible; other causes may include infections, parasites, immune mediated haemolytic anaemia among other conditions. Without examining Frankie I cannot say for certain what the cause was. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 27, 2018

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Anemia Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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