Anemia affects the blood and hemoglobin in every animal's body including humans and cats. Our Tucson vets discuss what exactly anemia in cats is, what the different types are and how it can be treated.

What exactly 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. Anemia is not a specific disease in itself, it’s typically a symptom of another disease or condition.

Suppose 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. In that case, they may be suffering from anemia.

The typical symptoms of anemia in cats

The symptoms that your cat experiences and their severity and duration will differ depending on the underlying cause of illness.

Some of the most common symptoms of anemia in cats are:

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

Other possible symptoms of anemia in cats are:

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

What to do if you see any symptoms of anemia in cats

If you begin to notice any of the above symptoms of anemia in your cat you should contact your vet right away to schedule a visit. During your visit, your 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.

The appearance of blood in your cat’s feces or vomit indicates a possible emergency and you should contact your emergency vet immediately.

How anemia in cats can be treated

The treatment for anemia in your cat will depend on what the underlying cause is and the severity of the symptoms.

Your vet will utilize the findings from a physical examination as well as an assessment of your cat’s health history and clinical symptoms to help determine the best course of action. 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.

A common recommendation for the treatment of cats with anemia is a change in diet. 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 has been showing any concerning symptoms of anemia or any other potential condition contact our Tucson vets to schedule an examination for your feline friend.