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What is Low Platelet Count?

Low platelet count is termed, “thrombocytopenia” and refers to a level of circulating platelet counts below 200,000 µL (microliter). Like all cellular blood components, platelets are made inside the bone marrow and circulate the body for about a week before they are absorbed and replaced with new platelets. Since platelets are formed inside the bone marrow, disease, cancer, infections, drugs, and toxins that target the bone marrow can cause a low platelet count in cats. Thrombocytopenia in cats can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions and is not a condition that is known to cause noticeable symptoms, which is why veterinary evaluation is an absolute must.

If your cat has a tendency to bruise easily or is prone to nosebleeds (epistaxis), your feline could be suffering from a low platelet count. Platelets are disc-shaped cell fragments present in blood plasma that circulate in the body through the bloodstream. When a cat injures herself, these platelets, or thrombocytes, pile up on each, glued together with a special protein called the von Willebrand's factor and form a clot to prevent the cat from bleeding out. When a cat’s platelet count becomes too low, however, there are not enough circulating cell fragments to form a proper clot and there is nothing to prevent the blood from leaving the body.

Low Platelet Count Average Cost

From 369 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Low Platelet Count in Cats

Symptoms of a low platelet count in cats can be difficult to detect and some felines may not have any symptoms at all if the platelet count is not severely low. The first sign a cat owner may notice is increased bleeding from a scratch or cut. The owner may apply pressure to the cut, but the time it takes for the wound to stop bleeding will seem excessive and is a reason to be concerned. A veterinarian may also note a similar sign of thrombocytopenia before or during surgery. Additional symptoms of a low platelet count in cats includes:

  • Bruising 
  • Localized red areas on the skin and gums. 
  • Retinal hemorrhage
  • Hematochezia (presence of blood in the stool)
  • Hematuria (presence of blood in the urine) 
  • Lethargy 
  • Epistaxis (nosebleed)
  • Bleeding from the gums
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Causes of Low Platelet Count in Cats

Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC) 

Disseminated intravascular coagulation is a condition in which the body uses more platelets than it can make. DIC causes the blood to clot, blocking the vascular system and using all the available circulating platelets before new ones can be made, resulting in a low platelet count.

Splenomegaly

Splenomegaly is the term used to describe an enlarged spleen. The healthy spleen stores approximately 40% of the body’s platelets, but when the spleen grows in size, more and more platelets are taken from the body to be put into storage, causing the circulating platelet levels to drop. 

Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia

Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia is an autoimmune disorder in which the cat’s immune system not only kills infections, but also targets platelets as harmful invaders to the body. 

Leukemia 

Leukemia is bone marrow and blood cancer, in which cancer cells outnumber megakaryocytes (the cells in the bone marrow that make platelets) and few platelets will be made. Chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment can also cause a low platelet count due to the destruction of cancer and healthy cells. 

Viral Infection

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline panleukopenia (FPV), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are known to affect blood platelet counts.

Other Causes

A low platelet count in cats can also occur for idiopathic, or unknown, reasons, as well as a secondary, adverse effect of the feline panleukopenia vaccine.  

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Diagnosis of Low Platelet Count in Cats

Your veterinarian will begin diagnosis of a low platelet count in your cat with a review of her medical history and a physical examination. The veterinarian will ask you what symptoms you have noticed your cat displaying at home, her current medications and the possibility of exposure to poison. A complete blood cell count (CBC) is likely to be the doctor’s next diagnostic test, as a CBC will measure the amount of platelets in a sample of blood. The vet will then carry out other diagnostic tests based on his findings and what he suspects to by the underlying cause of the conditions. 

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Treatment of Low Platelet Count in Cats

Treatment of a low platelet count in cats focuses primarily on treating the underlying disease or condition. However, if a great deal of blood has been lost due to a low platelet count, your veterinarian may advise a blood transfusion to take place. Talk to your veterinarian about an appropriate treatment plan for a low platelet count in your cat. 

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Recovery of Low Platelet Count in Cats

After treatment, pet owners will be asked to follow-up with the veterinarian on a regular basis. Cats with a history of a low platelet count condition may be advised to remain an indoor cat in order to prevent fights with other cats or accidents that could cause excessive bleeding. Pet owners should also remember that cats diagnosed with severe thrombocytopenia cannot undergo certain surgical procedures and new veterinarians should always be reminded of this to avoid unfortunate situations.

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Low Platelet Count Average Cost

From 369 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Low Platelet Count Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Domestic cat

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

N/A

I took my cat for his annual vaccines and the vet found blood parasites in his blood. We treated it with Doxycycline but his platelet count would drop and then go up sporadically between weekly vet visits. Currently, they can no longer find any blood parasites in his blood but his platelet count is low again, just below 200. He has already been tested for FIV (negative) and is strictly an indoor cat. I’m at a loss as to what is causing his low platelet count and I’d like to hear another vet’s opinion.

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your cat is having this problem. With low platelet counts, the common things that we think of our blood parasites, immune-mediated disorders, or a bone marrow problem or immune deficiency. There may be further testing that your veterinarian needs to do, or medications that your cat does need to be on. I hope that everything goes well and he feels better soon.

Oct. 1, 2020

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maine coon

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Weight Loss

Hi there, my boy Kihei, 5 years old, has been pretty lethargic, meows more than often and has lost weight (3 lbs.) over the last year. He does have new kitties (2 year olds) to play with and has been more active in the house with them. In July his abnormal labs were Calcium 11.6, Platelets 138, and Neutrophils 2,115. Any thoughts? The vet wants to do an ionized calcium?

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your cat. Increase calcium can be a sign of cancer such as lymphoma. It would be rare to see at his age. This is probably the reason your vet wants to do an ionized calcium as that gives us a better reading of the calcium. Weight loss in cats can be due to hyperthyroid which your vet may have also ruled out. I would recommend asking about this test and ruining the ionized calcium to see if it is abnormal.

July 26, 2020

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Low Platelet Count Average Cost

From 369 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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