Hi,I just today had to put my 5 month old kitten to sleep. He had been tested early on for HIV and leukemia and came back negative; also negative for parasites. The past five days he had been progressively become more lethargic and stopped eating. I brought him to the vet today and there were barely any red blood cells in his body his gums were almost clear and his body temperature was low.
They checked him for parasites in the blood and nothing came back. Know one could figure out what happened. I still question whether or not I did the right thing. The vet said he probably had another couple of days to live.
The only thing that I noticed in the time that we had him is that his heart rate seemed a little high. And the week that he started showing symptoms was when I changed the litter brand to the pearl type litter.
This kitten was found in the wild at about 5 or 6 weeks so I don’t know the health of his family.
I am still second guessing my decision and feel very sad. If any one has any idea what could have happened I would appreciate it.
Kitten with Severe Anemia and Low Temp
Hi, I am not going to pretend that I know the answer but I can tell you what the cause might have been from reading some books that I have. But I don’t refer to treatments here as that is the domain of the vet. I do believe though that a well informed cat keeper is a benefit to the cat provided the knowledge is used sensibly. Note that I use the USA spelling of anemia and derivative words except on one occasion.
First, I am sorry to hear of your loss. It must have been a very difficult decision.
Feline Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells. Therefore anemia is caused by blood loss or low red cell production. The signs of heart disease can be confused with those for anemia.
Drs Carlson and Giffin (Cat Owner’s Veterinary Handbook) make these points on the question of anemia and cats/kittens (this is highly summarised):
- Iron deficiency — mother was anemic and low iron in the mother’s milk. This seems not to apply as your kitten was 5 months old but I am not sure.
- Intestinal parasites – hook worm or coccidia infestation — cause chronic blood loss through intestinal tract. More common in older kittens and adults.
- Intestinal tract – ulcer or tumor causing blood loss.
- Red blood cell destroyed prematurely — disease called hemolysis – Feline infectious anemia (FIA) and feline cytauxzoon are two diseases that cause blood hemolysis.
- Decreased red blood cell production — most common cause of feline anemia. This can be caused by diets low in iron. But most often caused by chronic blood loss. Also toxic “agents” and diseases interfere with production namely, feline leukemia, Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) and drugs. Many illnesses affect the bone marrow, where red blood cells are produced.
- External parasites — flea infestation? (my thought)
- See Feline Anemia (an earlier article on a blogger site)
- Feline porphyria — rare disease. Affects the formation of red blood cells. Causes brownish discoloration of teeth and brown urine.
The Veterinarian’s Guide to Your Cat’s Symptoms says:
- a deficiency in Vitamin K because of ingesting the poison Warfarin or liver disease causes anemia and bleeding
- trauma, rat poison or tumor causing bleeding into abdomen resulting in the symptom of a distended stomach
- with symptoms of depressed appetite the possible condition would be they say: FeLV, FIV, cancer, kidney disease, drug ingestion, rat poison, “immune mediated disease”, severe bacterial infection.
The American Animal Hospital Association Encyclopaedia of Cat Health and Care says this:
- nutritional anaemia – mother anemic passing this on to the offspring
- intestinal parasites causing chronic blood loss.
- Feline Infectious Anemia (FIA) – the bacteria responsible is Hemobartonella felis. Attaches to surface of red blood cells. A weakened immune system allows the bacteria to attack the red blood cells. This causes the condition FIA. Can be transmitted by bite from another cat or possibly a flea.
The Natural Health Cat Care Manual confirms the above and nothing new.
Cat with Feline Infectious Anemia. This cat and person is not associated with the author of the question. The author of the photo says that the disease was caused by the cat’s immune system attacking the red blood cells having detected an abnormality in them. Photo taken Dec. 2008: by Fenchurch! (creative commons license). I hope the cat got well.