Anemia in Cats – Types and Symptoms
Infectious Anemias continued...
More common is infection with Mycoplasma haemophilus (formerly called
Hemobartonella felis). A variant is Mycoplasma haemominutum. This blood
parasite is primarily passed to cats through tick and flea bites, but it can
also be spread by cat bites and in utero or from infected queens to nursing
kittens. Red blood cells are destroyed by the cat’s own immune reactions to the
parasites. Mycoplasma haemophilus may also work in concert with feline leukemia
virus to stimulate bone marrow cancers.
Cats with this type of infectious anemia are often weak and may have fevers.
Some cats eat dirt or their litter in an attempt to add minerals to their diet.
If left untreated, up to 30 percent of affected cats may die.
Signs of Anemia
Signs may be overshadowed by a chronic illness. In general, anemic cats lack
appetite, lose weight, sleep a great deal, and show generalized weakness. The mucous membranes
of the gums and tongue are pale. In cats with severe anemia, the pulse and
breathing rate are rapid. These signs also occur with heart disease, and these
two conditions can be confused.
Anemia is usually diagnosed by blood tests that look for the red blood cell
count and also for the numbers and types of red blood cells present on a smear.
Blood parasites are often detected on a smear, but special polymerase chain
reaction (PCR) tests may be needed in some cases. A bone marrow sample may also
be useful in determining the cause of the anemia.
Treatment: Uncomplicated nutritional anemia responds well to replacement of
the missing nutrients and restoring the cat to a nutritionally complete
Iron deficiency anemia should alert you to the possibility of chronic blood
loss. A stool check will show whether there are ova and parasites or traces of
blood in the feces. Work with your veterinarian to treat any external