Ask the Vet
vQ: ‘Mimi’, our sweet kitty, has been very sick this week. Our veterinarian says Mimi is so anemic that she might need a blood transfusion. She is only 3 years old, and she has been healthy all her life. We all love her very much and are really worried…can you help?
A: I’m sorry to hear that Mimi is so ill. Anemia is having fewer red blood cells than normal. This happens for 3 basic reasons: the body not making enough red blood cells, the body losing red blood cells, or the body is destroying its own red blood cells.
Anemias can be mild, moderate, or severe. One of the first tests your veterinarian will do is to look at her reticulocyte count. These are the immature red blood cells, and it’s important to know if Mimi’s bone marrow recognizes the anemia and is able to make cells anymore or not.
In younger cats like
Mimi, common causes of anemia include feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, and blood parasites such as mycoplasma. Drug or chemical toxicities are also possible.
In older cats, we are concerned with chronic disease, such as kidney, liver, or thyroid disease, causing anemias. Cancer can also cause anemia too. Although these are possible causes of Mimi’s anemia, these are less likely due to her young age.
Anemia is a condition or a symptom, not a disease. Your veterinarian will likely continue with various tests to find the cause of the anemia. Blood transfusions are sometimes necessary if the body needs time for medication and treatments to take hold.
Best of luck to Mimi.
If you have a question about your pet, please email Dr. Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org