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Healthy Cats

Anemia in Cats

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If your cat has anemia, it means he has fewer red blood cells than he needs to carry oxygen to his tissues. Most anemic cats, though, live a long, healthy life, especially with early diagnosis.

Symptoms

  • Pale pink to white gums and tongue
  • Weakness and low energy
  • Sleeps a lot
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Quick breathing and heart rate

If your cat has these symptoms, take him to your vet right away for blood tests.

Causes

A drop in your cat’s red blood cells can lead to anemia. It’s caused by a number of conditions, including:

 

  • Trauma or injury to blood vessels
  • Severe parasite infestations such as fleas and hookworms
  • Tumors
  • Blood-clotting problems from other diseases
  • An autoimmune disease
  • Feline leukemia virus
  • Chemicals or toxins
  • Cancer
  • A severe or chronic disease such as kidney failure
  • Poor nutrition
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus

Types

There are two types:

Nonregenerative Anemia

This happens when your cat’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough red blood cells. There may be a drop in the hormone that helps make them or a problem with the bone marrow itself.

The most common cause of nonregenerative anemia is the feline leukemia virus. It can also be caused by:

  • A poor diet, which causes nutrition problems like not enough iron.
  • A chronic inflammation or infection, a tumor, liver disease, or hormonal disorder.
  • Primary leukemia. This is when abnormal white blood cells take over normal cells.
  • Bone marrow disorders where not enough new blood cells are made.
  • Myelofibrosis, a progressive disease that leads to bone marrow failure.

Regenerative Anemia

This is when your cat has a loss of red blood cells or the red blood cells die too soon. Your cat’s bone marrow makes up for the lost blood cells by making more red blood cells. But it can’t keep up with the loss of cells.

There are two types of regenerative anemia:

Hemolytic Anemia

This happens when your cat’s immune system destroys its own red blood cells by mistake. This can be hard to spot, so many cats with this kind aren’t diagnosed properly.

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