Anaemia is a reduction in the number of red blood cells in the blood stream. This reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. The main sign of this is weakness and lack of ability to exercise, panting very readily. The gums will be very pale. Anaemia must be severe to cause a problem at rest. Some forms of heart disease can cause similar signs.

If you suspect your cat has anaemia, contact your vet and they will need to take some blood to confirm and try to discover why. If a cat is anaemic there is either a reduced production of red cells or an increased loss.

In cats, the commonest cause of anaemia is the Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV). A cat that is anaemic should receive a test for this virus. There is also a Feline Infectious Anaemia (FIA) caused by a blood parasite called Haemobartonella.

Causes of increased loss include external bleeding, internal bleeding (most commonly a bleeding abdominal tumour), rat poison, blood parasites (e.g. FIA) and destruction of red cells by the immune system.

Causes of reduced production include kidney disease, hormonal abnormalities, leukaemia (often FeLV related), bone marrow cancers, iron deficiency (uncommon in cats) and lead poisoning.


This pet health article is for reference only.

If your pet is showing any symptoms or distress, and you suspect your pet is ill CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY.