The Types and Symptoms of Anemia in Cats

Our Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) veterinary team will describe here the different varieties of anemia in cats and offer some information about their symptoms and what to do if you suspect your cat has anemia in the Ventura area.

What is anemia?

Anemia is a term which describes a drop in the amount of hemoglobin, red blood cells or both in your cat's blood. Anemia almost never appears on its own. It is most often a symptom of another underlying condition or disease. 

If you notice that your cat seems uninterested in food or treats, is breathing rapidly even while relaxing and is more lazy or lethargic than they usually are, your cat may be suffering from a condition causing anemia. 

Anemia in Cats: The Three Types

There are three varieties of anemia found in cats: autoimmune hemolytic, non-regenerative and regenerative anemia. Each has their own unique causes and specific mechanisms of reducing the cell counts in your cat's blood. 

Regenerative Anemia

Whether it is caused by parasites, blood loss, serious illness, or a physical injury, regenerative anemia is brought on by acute or very sudden and significant blood loss. In the case of illnesses or conditions causing this kind of anemia, they do so by destroying your cat's red blood cells. 

Regenerative anemia most often affects younger cats rather than older ones. 

Non-Regenerative Anemia

Non-regenerative anemia in cats can include chronic diseases such as kidney failure, liver disease, or bone marrow disease.

The most common underlying cause for non-regenerative anemia ( an anemia in general) in cats is kidney failure. Usually, kidneys produce a hormone that encourages the production of red blood cells in your cat. When your pet's kidney's aren't functioning properly, they won't be able to replace the cells as quickly as they are used, leading to anemia.

Older cats are more often affected by non-regenerative anemia. 

Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) in cats is a disease of the immune system which destroys your cat's red blood cells. This disease is also sometimes called immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA).

AIHA is more commonly secondary, since an underlying toxin or disease alters the surface of the red blood cells. Most cats with AIHA have severe anemia, which causes symptoms such as pale gums (usually, the gums are normally pink or red in color).

Anemia in Cats: Symptoms

The symptoms your cat will exhibit will be very dependent on the underlying cause of their anemia, the kind of anemia they are experiencing, and the severity of their case. 

The most common symptoms can include:

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

Other symptoms may include:

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

What should I do if my cat shows symptoms of anemia?

If your cat is showing any of the symptoms listed in the section above, make sure you book an appointment with your vet as soon as you can. Your vet may need to take a series of diagnostic blood tests, sometimes called a complete blood count (or CBC).

In order to provide an official diagnosis and an identification of the type of anemia your cat is suffering from, more tests will likely be required. They will also help to determine the underlying condition, disease or injury which is causing your pet's anemia. 

If you discover blood in your cat’s feces or vomit, this is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention from your vet.

Do you suspect that your cat is showing some symptoms of anemia? Contact your vet as soon as possible to ask them about diagnosis and referrals. Our Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) veterinary team have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating anemia in Ventura cats. Contact us today for more information.

The Types and Symptoms of Anemia in Cats | Ventura Animal Hospital

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