Usually your cat has more energy than he knows what to do with, but lately he’s been dragging around as if he was up all night watching the late show. He doesn’t even rally at suppertime.
Your vet says he has feline anemia, a condition in which red blood cells aren’t carrying enough oxygen to keep him energized. Often a result of blood loss, anemia in cats can be caused by conditions ranging from severe flea or hookworm infestations to ulcers.
Since anemia is a symptom of an underlying problem, a cat with this condition needs to be under a veterinarian’s care. In addition, there are things you can do to help get his energy up to par.
Get rid of parasites
Young kittens can be infested with fleas or born with hookworms, which suck blood, causing cat anemia. In severe cases, pets can lose up to one-quarter of their blood to parasites, so getting rid of the pests is a priority. Some parasites, like fleas, are easy to eliminate, while for others your kitty will need a veterinarian’s care. Ask your vet for advice.
Ask about medications
There are a number of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications, that can cause bleeding in the digestive tract that can lead to anemia. In addition, some drugs may cause the immune system to “attack” otherwise healthy blood cells, reducing the blood’s oxygen-carrying capability. If your cat seems under the weather and is also taking medications, ask your vet if there might be a connection.
Beef up the diet
Offer quick relief to an anemic cat by boosting the oxygen-carrying capacity of his blood as fast as possible. Giving him foods rich in iron and B vitamins, such as cooked liver, will help. Vets typically recommend giving a cat one ounce of liver a day for a week or two, or until he’s feeling better.
Reach for the Geritol
When dealing with cats and anemia, another way to beef up the blood is to give a daily dose of this over-the-counter supplement, which is high in iron and B vitamins. Ask your vet to recommend a safe dose for your cat.
Supplement his diet
With some kinds of anemia, cats will need to take vitamin supplementation. Vets recommend those that are high in iron and B vitamins, which are available at pet stores and from your vet. Just crush the pills—or if you’re using capsules, take them apart—and mix the powder with his food.
Select good chows
While dietary iron deficiency anemia is more commonly observed in very young cats, it is important to prioritize their nutritional needs to prevent any potential deficiencies. Opting for reputable and name-brand cat foods is a prudent choice to ensure a balanced and nutrient-rich diet for your feline companion. These established brands often undergo rigorous testing and adhere to strict quality standards, providing a higher level of confidence in their nutritional content. By selecting reliable cat foods, you can help safeguard against potential iron deficiencies and support your cat’s overall health and well-being. Remember, consulting with a veterinarian can provide further guidance on suitable dietary choices for your cat’s specific needs.
Encourage quiet time
When cats are diagnosed with anemia, their bodies are already experiencing a shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As a result, engaging in physical activity can further increase the demand for oxygen, putting additional strain on their already compromised system. To support their recovery and overall well-being, it is crucial for anemic cats to remain calm and limit their physical exertion. Encouraging a quiet and restful environment can help conserve energy and allow their bodies to focus on replenishing the red blood cells. Providing a peaceful space and promoting a relaxed lifestyle are essential steps in managing anemia in cats and supporting their healing process. A comfy cat bed will be a great addition!
When to See the Vet
While the symptoms of anemia can sometimes be relieved temporarily with home treatment, the underlying problem must be treated by a vet.
If you suspect that your cat is anemic, take a look in his mouth—it should be a healthy pink (although some pets’ mouths are naturally brown or black). If your cat has anemia, the inside of his mouth may be quite pale. If you can’t see any pink in the gums, head for the vet.
Another way to spot anemia is to examine the eyes. Pull down the lower eyelid and look at the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the eyelid. While some animals have dark pigment there, usually the conjunctiva is bright pink. If your cat has anemia, however, the conjunctiva will looked washed-out and pale.