Aplastic Anemia in Cats

Aplastic Anemia in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Aplastic Anemia in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Aplastic Anemia?

A cat suffering from aplastic anemia will begin to experience a lack of oxygen in the body. This prevents all organs from operating at their full capacity. Certain bone marrow issues that lead to aplastic anemia involve underdeveloped bone marrow being replaced by fat. In other cases, kidney failure may result in minimal or no production of erythropoietin, which is a hormone that stimulates red blood cell creation. Aplastic anemia represents 80 percent of all anemia diagnoses in cats. 

Cats need a specific amount of red blood cells in the body to transport the hemoglobin molecule to all body parts for oxygenation. The average life cycle of a red blood cell is approximately two months. At this point, bone marrow (spongy tissue inside the bones) recycles the hemoglobin molecules, while the liver and spleen purify and produce more red blood cells. If the cat is suffering from a condition that damages the bone marrow, the stem cells inside the marrow may be adversely affected and slow or halt hemoglobin production. This results in an abnormally low amount of red blood cells in the body; a condition known as aplastic anemia.

Aplastic Anemia Average Cost

From 418 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia in Cats

If a cat is severely anemic, it will begin to exhibit signs of oxygen starvation. General exhaustion is often the first notable symptom, as the cat does not have enough red blood cells for normal bodily functions. Signs to watch for are listed as follows:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale or white gums
  • Rapid breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Inability to exercise
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Collapse
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Aplastic Anemia in Cats

Any condition or external source that leads to bone marrow issues or poor kidney function can cause insufficient red blood cell production. Known causes include:

  • Bone marrow disease
  • Benign or malignant tumors of the bone marrow or kidneys
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Toxin exposure
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Medication
  • Hormone administration
  • Viral infections (such as feline leukemia virus)
  • Bacterial infections (such as ehrlichia)
  • Genetic predisposition
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Aplastic Anemia in Cats

If your cat begins to exhibit symptoms of anemia, bring it to your veterinarian at once. Be sure to provide the vet with your cat's full medical history to assist in identifying possible underlying causes of the condition. Full blood work can reveal all cell counts in the bloodstream. A complete blood count including a packed cell volume (PCV) test can provide the percent of red blood cells in a whole blood sample. For this test, the plasma is separated from the red blood cells and then both are measured. Healthy cats contain 25-45% of red blood cells in their blood. Anything less than this indicates the cat is anemic. The actual numerical red blood cell and hemoglobin counts can also be performed microscopically by a lab. 

The cat should be tested for any bacterial infections that could be causing limited red blood cell production. A urinalysis can shed light on both liver and kidney function. A coagulation panel and a buccal mucosal bleeding time (BMBT) test may be run to assess how well the blood is clotting. An abdominal x-ray may be requested to check for the presence of tumors, ulcers or any internal bleeding that could be affecting the bone marrow or kidneys. If tumors are found, biopsies may be needed to check for cancer. Abdominocentesis will be performed if any fluid is present in the abdomen. A DNA test will reveal any genetic problems in the cat. The cat should also be tested for feline leukemia virus.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Aplastic Anemia in Cats

The first task when treating a severely anemic cat is to restore the proper blood counts and blood volume. This may require supportive care to stabilize the cat. Once this is accomplished, the underlying cause of the anemia can be addressed and potentially treated. 

Supportive Care 

This often involves intravenous fluid administration to boost blood volumes. Fluid should be given slowly to prevent a poor reaction from the cat. Hospitalization is required for this process.

Blood Transfusions 

If blood has been lost, or if blood counts are dangerously low, a blood transfusion may be needed. This may involve a transfusion of whole blood, platelets, packed cells or fresh plasma. 

Antibiotics 

If bacteria has been found causing infection in the cat, a specific antibiotic will be prescribed to counteract the bacteria. This prescription will generally last 1-4 weeks. 

Vitamin K Injection 

If the cat is unable to clot blood due to aplastic anemia, an injection of Vitamin K may be given to aid the clotting process. 

Medication 

Certain medication may be prescribed to stimulate the growth of bone marrow. While this is not a permanent solution, it can improve the situation for a period of time.

Bone Marrow Transplant 

If bone marrow issues are caused by feline leukemia virus, a bone marrow transplant may be an effective treatment method. It is not always offered, as not all veterinary clinics perform the surgery. Cats who undergo this surgery generally experience minimal complications.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Worried about the cost of Aplastic Anemia treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Aplastic Anemia in Cats

The permanent restoration of proper blood cell counts in cats can only be achieved in certain circumstances. The overall outcome will vary greatly depending on the underlying cause of aplastic anemia that has been diagnosed. If symptoms had a rapid onset, often the condition is reversible. If the anemia has existed for a long period of time, the underlying issue is often more complicated. 

If the cat has undergone surgery, be sure to provide all at-home care as it has been instructed. Monitor any incision sites daily to ensure that they are clean and free of infection. All medications should be administered as prescribed. If cancer has been diagnosed, ongoing treatment and further surgeries may be needed. The cat will need follow-up appointments with the veterinarian to test if red blood cell levels are rising properly. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Aplastic Anemia Average Cost

From 418 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Aplastic Anemia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

cat

dog-age-icon

9 years

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Cat seems ok, but weakened jumping ability. Negative for Leukemia, no visible growths except a slight thickening of the ileum noted after ultrasound and xrays 5 months ago. No blood parasites noted.

Jan. 13, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

This could be a back or disc injury. There are other issues that can cause them to be week. Bloodwork would be good to do it not already done. It is hard to give you a prognosis without knowing what is going on.

Jan. 13, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Larra

dog-breed-icon

Short haired domestic/Simese

dog-age-icon

9 Months

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Anemia FeLv

Can a 9 month old, FeLV be treated and cured of anemia? Or is the survival rate too low? She is at 17%, decreased appetite, hard stool, slightly less active and pink gums. Larra started licking concrete so we knew something was wrong. Shea’s started on antibiotics, hoping this would help but not likely and an appetite stimulus. She is eating better. We don’t want Larra to suffer. Is she in an pain?? So far her breathing is good, drinking water has increased, tune oitput good, constipated? How much do we do to help her survive. Thank you Rita

Feb. 18, 2018

Larra's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

2 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without knowing more details about Larra's actual situation and test results, I'm not sure what more you can do to help her. Since you have had her seen by a veterinarian, they will be able to help guide you as to what her prognosis is, what her chances of survival are, and if there are any other things that can be done for her. I hope that she recovers.

Feb. 18, 2018

Hey larra. I know this post is 3months old, but hope it helps you and others. Ive got a 5yr old cat thats had aplastic anemia since she was 11months old, due to bone marrow disease. Its a long constant and expensive battle but worth it. My cat had 4% blood, which is a record low for my vet team. She had a blood transfusion and then was on atopica and prednesolone for a while until she was stable with 35% plus bloods. She does have regular relapses but with quick treatment of the prednisolone, her bloods jump up to a safer percent. Its hard at times, but it is possible to keep your cat stable with regular vet monitoring. Good luck, hope this helps and wish you and your fur baby all the best. Tara

June 7, 2018

Tara S.


Tara, We literally just had a 14m old kitten diagnosed with bone marrow disease. Can you share more about your experience?

June 28, 2018

Dana G.

Was this experience helpful?

Aplastic Anemia Average Cost

From 418 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

Need pet insurance?
Need pet insurance?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.