Although cats typically spend a large part of their day sleeping, it's important to watch for any signs that your cat is not feeling its normal self. Your furry friend may be lethargic or not interested in eating. These signs can be indicative of underlying health problems. One of those problems could be anemia, which can be caused by a wide variety of conditions. Some are more serious than others, which is why you need to have your kitty checked out at an animal hospital.
What Is Feline Anemia?
Anemia means a reduction in the number of red blood cells circulating in the body or a decrease in the hemoglobin carried within them. It is not a disease itself, but a symptom of some other condition. Red blood cells are created in the bone marrow and carry oxygen and nutrients to the body. If there are not enough red blood cells to supply the body's needs, your cat will not be able to carry out normal metabolic functions and the tissues will starve. Therefore, your cat's condition can turn serious very quickly.
Causes of Feline Anemia
There are three basic causes for a reduction of red blood cells: loss of blood, destruction of red blood cells, and failure to produce an adequate supply of red blood cells. Loss of blood can be caused by trauma or something in the digestive tract, such as parasites or bleeding ulcers. Reduced production of red blood cells can be caused by poor nutrition, chronic kidney disease, some types of cancer, Feline Leukemia Virus, and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Destruction of red blood cells, known as hemolysis, can be the result of cancer, blood parasites, Feline Leukemia Virus, or poisonous chemicals.
Often a cat's bone marrow will step up its production of red blood cells when it detects a deficiency. In such cases, your cat may show very mild systems. However, as your kitty ages, its immune capabilities decrease, and it may not be able to compensate for the loss. That's why middle-aged and older cats are more susceptible to severe anemia.
Symptoms and Treatment
Cats with anemia will have little energy and may seem lethargic. They often begin to lose weight, and their gums are pale due to the loss of red blood cells.
Your vet will perform blood tests to determine the red blood cell count and hemoglobin content along with tests to discover the underlying cause. The treatment will depend on what's causing the anemia. Depending on how severe the anemia is, your cat may need a blood transfusion. If the cause of the disease is curable or treatable, your feline friend's prognosis is good and can usually be managed through medication and diet.
For more information, contact a local animal hospital.