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What are Blood Related Deficiencies?

One or two blood related deficiencies can develop in the cat at a time. However, if a number of them descend on your cat at once, the condition may endanger its life.

Your cat’s blood is made up of a liquid (plasma) in which solids such as platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells are suspended. Each of the components has its own functions in maintaining proper health and well-being of the cat. If the components are not in their normal condition, there may be a serious health problem for your pet.

Symptoms of Blood Related Deficiencies in Cats

When platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells simultaneously go low on count, the condition is known as pancytopenia – a Greek word roughly translating to ‘poverty or lack of all cells.’ Individually, conditions brought about by low count of blood components include thrombocytopenia for red blood cells, anemia for red blood cells, and leukopenia for white blood cells. The signs of these conditions include: 

  • Persistent fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Lethargy
  • Nose bleeding and presence of blood in the urine
  • Mucosal bleeding – bleeding from the cat’s moist body tissues
  • Increased breathing and heart rates
  • Pica – abnormal eating habits such as feeding on soil, concrete and even its own litter
  • Jaundice – the mucous membrane develops a yellow discoloration in cases of haemolysis

Keep in mind that there are two broad divisions of anemia. When there is loss of red blood cells, the cat’s bone marrow tries to correct the situation with an attempt at producing a new batch of red blood cells, leading to regenerative anemia. On the other hand, non-regenerative anemia is the inability of the bone marrow to produce the required number of red blood cells to stand in for the lost ones. However, multiple anemia causes can descend on the cat simultaneously, worsening the situation.

Causes of Blood Related Deficiencies in Cats

Determining the cause of individual blood related disorders or pancytopenia is not easy. Therefore, a physical examination is of utmost important. Here are some of the most probable culprits:

  • Exposure to harmful drugs through medication or accident
  • Infectious diseases such as Feline leukemia virus (Felv) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Acute or chronic Ehrlichiosis
  • Cancer
  • Blood-cell-destructing conditions such as Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT) and Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMT)

Diagnosis of Blood Related Deficiencies in Cats

Remember that pancytopenia is not a disease. It’s a sign of the presence of a combination of conditions. Therefore, unearthing of the cause is important.

Apart from intensive physical examinations, various tests will be carried out with the aim of eliminating drugs and infectious diseases from the list of the causes of the condition. The tests will help the veterinarian to find out the cat’s blood count and chemical blood profile. In addition, he or she will conduct an analysis of the urine as well as an examination of the bone marrow through bone marrow biopsies. You will be required to give a complete health history of the cat including the date you first noticed the symptoms.

The low count of red blood cells can be detected with the use of a machine designed to count them individually. Otherwise, they may be counted through a measurement named Packed Cell Volume (PVC) which involves depositing of a blood sample into a glass tube under centrifuge. The volume of the red blood cells accumulating at the bottom of the tube is then noted.

Diagnosis does not stop at the confirmation of presence of anemia. The veterinarian will have to determine whether it falls under regenerative type or the non-regenerative type. He or she will determine regeneration by noting the varying sizes of the red blood cells—some of them will be larger and immature.

Treatment of Blood Related Deficiencies in Cats

Once the presence of the deficiencies has been confirmed, the kind of treatment the cat receives is determined by the primary cause of the condition. The response of your cat to treatment may be different from that of others. It may either be good and quick, or a prolonged recovery process, especially if non-regenerative anemia has gone to severe levels. 

Symptomatic Treatment

The veterinarian will administer treatment with the aim of relieving the cat of the symptoms brought about by the condition. As mentioned, the symptoms of pancytopenia are directly related to the underlying cause. Treatment may include administration of antibiotics and other medications. 

Supportive Treatment

In the event of severe anemia, blood transfusion may be used to save the cat’s life. Compatibility of both the donor’s and recipient’s blood group should be ensured. In addition, the cat may spend some time in hospitalization to enable the veterinarian to monitor its condition closely in case of severe anemia. Iron supplementation may also be done.

Recovery of Blood Related Deficiencies in Cats

Recovery from pancytopenia is not always easy. When your cat has first been treated, you should ensure that it goes thorough physical examinations every day. Among other checks, the veterinarian will monitor the blood count and body temperature. If the red blood cells and platelet counts are very low, the veterinarian will check it more frequently.

Remember to keep your cats updated with vaccinations against infectious diseases. In addition, keep in mind that treatment for cancer may lead to development of pancytopenia as one of the side effects. Therefore, frequent checks of the blood count should be done if your cat is a cancer patient.

Blood Related Deficiencies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Street cat
1 Year
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


I was wondering if you could help me with my cat. Its been seen by 5 doctors, diagnosed with leukemia, but the leukemia test came out negative.
Let me give you a few details.
His name is Oskar and I found him a year ago on the street, when he was just a kitten. Everything went fine untill 5 months ago when he started losing weight (from 7.3lbs to 4.4) + diarrhea. Went to a lot of doctors, tried a lot of treatments (antibiotics, diet food, disinfestation-no worms found in stool).
In the last 5 months, her stool is either very hard or very fluid. In the last 3 weeks, blood apeared in his stool and pee. With treatment, we've managed to stop the blood, but he is still very weak and has a loose stool.
We've performed blood tests this week and it seems that the following analysis were outside the normal parameters:
WBC 51.80 k/ul, MONO 4.08 k/ul, NEU 40.27 k/ul, EOS 2.16 k/ul, BASO 0.19 K/UL, HCT 28.4%, RETIC 67.8 k/ul, MCV 39.8 fL, RDW 23.5%, PLT >659 K/ul, CREA 0.6 MG/DL.
(I hope the abbreviations are internqtionally accepted. If not, let me know as to translate them.)
As said in the beggining, most doctors said he has leukemia, but the test for leukemia came out negative.
Could you please help me out with some advice? I feel completly hopeless; I don' t know what more can I do to put the little guy back on its feet.
I have to mention that during all this tine he has had a healthy appetite, eating very well, he's never had high fever, nore has he vomited.
Thank you so so much in advance!
I hope you'll have an answer for me!

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Poor Oskar! The glaring abnormality with his lab work is his incredibly high WBC count, as those cells fight infection. He is also anemic. Without knowing more about his situation, it is difficult to comment on what might be going on with him, and it may be time to take him to see a specialist. They may be able to shed some light on what the next step is for him. I hope that he recovers from this and has a long and happy life!

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Maine Coon
13 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Not Eating

Medication Used

Prednisolone 10mg twice daiy

My cat is 13yr old mane coon that has I have. He is currently on prednisolone 10mg twice daily. He is fine for days them he doesn't eat! His count is currently 22 but has been as high as 39 when diagnosed. His levels fluctuate week to week. Is there anything we can give, vitamins b12, holistic mess, etc??

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Since I have not examined Ripley, and am not sure which 'counts' you are speaking of, it would be best to consult with your veterinarian about any further treatments that he may need or that may be beneficial to allow you to decrease his prednisone dosage. I hope that all goes well for him.

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