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Anemia Due to Red Blood Cell Damage in Cats

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Anemia, Heinz Body in Cats


This is a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed. The "Heinz body" can be seen under a microscope. This type of anemia can occur as a reaction to certain medications, or as a result of eating onions. It is more likely to occur in cats than dogs, and is usually caused by something the pet has eaten or drunk. Hyperthyroidism, lymphoma, and diabetes may also bring on this condition.




  • Fever
  • Sudden onset of weakness
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Reddish brown urine if the case is severe
  • Pale mucous membrane (e.g., lips, mouth, gums)
  • Discoloration of the skin




  • Ingestion of toxins: wilted red maple leaves, kale, turnips, zinc, onions, garlic
  • Drugs: acetaminophen, vitamin K, Phenothiazine, Benzocaine, Phenacetin
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Inherited disorders




First, your veterinarian will do a complete blood count to determine the cause of the symptoms. If Heinz bodies are identified, a course of treatment will be recommended. A methylene blue, or other type of stain to look for Heinz bodies, will be used to determine their exact count. If your cat is very pale, a methemoglobin test will be conducted to measure oxygen in the blood.


It is also important to note that cats may have a significant number of Heinz bodies in their blood without having anemia.




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