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Anemia in cats

If your cat begins to show the signs of anemia it can be very concerning for any pet parent. Our Fairhaven veterinarians offer insight into the causes of anemia in cats, the symptoms and how it can be treated in order to help your kitty get back to their healthy self.

What is anemia in cats?

Anemia is a medical term that represents a drop in the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin circulating in your cat’s body. While anemia is something to be treated it is not a condition on its own but usually the outcome of another disease or condition.

If you notice that your cat has been acting more lethargic than usual, seems uninterested in treats or other food, or is breathing rapidly even when lying still, they may be suffering from anemia.

What are the most common symptoms of anemia in cats?

The symptoms of anemia that your cat will experience are very dependent on the severity of the anemia and the underlying cause:

The most common symptoms can include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite

Other symptoms may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Jaundice (yellowish color in eyes, skin or gums if red blood cells have been destroyed)
  • Pale or white gums
  • Weakness

What steps should I take if I notice that my cat has symptoms of anemia?

If your cat is displaying any of the symptoms above, book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible for an exam. The vet may take a series of diagnostic blood tests. This is often called a complete blood count (CBC).

Your cat will need an official diagnosis and potentially more tests to identify which type of anemia he has, as well as the underlying injury, illness or disease that’s causing symptoms.

If you discover blood in your cat’s feces or vomit, this will require urgent care and immediate attention from your vet. While New England Animal Hospital provides urgent care services for established clients on a limited basis, you'll also find local emergency veterinary hospitals listed on our Urgent Care page. 

How is anemia in cats typically treated?

Your vet will need to diagnose the underlying condition and determine the severity before they can consider what the potential treatment plan could be.

Your vet’s diagnosis will be based on a comprehensive assessment of your cat’s health history and clinical symptoms, in addition to a physical examination. The exam may involve bone marrow testing, a complete blood cell count, iron testing, and urinalysis.

Non-regenerative anemia in cats can typically be resolved by diagnosing and treating the underlying disease. 

For secondary AIHA, the goal will be to treat the underlying cause, potentially with toxin antidotes or numerous antibiotics.

Your vet may suggest that you change your cat's diet and medications to help reverse the symptoms of anemia. If your cat is diagnosed with severe anemia, a blood transfusion may be required.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is displaying signs of anemia or other symptoms that you are concerned about contact our Fairhaven vets right away to book an examination for your kitty.

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New England Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Fairhaven companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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