Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency in Cats

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Anemia, Iron Deficiency in Cats


When the body is deficient in iron, red cells do not develop as they should. The lack of iron causes the cells that are produced by the bone marrow to be too small, and too low in oxygen-carrying features. In adult pets, this condition is usually caused by some kind of blood loss. It is important to recognize iron-deficiency anemia, because the underlying disease can be life-threatening.


The most common site of the blood loss is the gastrointestinal tract. About 50 percent of kittens from five to ten weeks of age will have transient iron-deficiency anemia. They will undergo spontaneous recovery and iron repletion beginning at five to six weeks of age, coinciding with intake of solid food. The incidence of this condition lessens with age, becoming increasingly rare.


Symptoms and Types


  • Decreased growth rate
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased susceptibility to disease
  • Dark-colored, tarry stools



  • Any form of external blood loss
  • Blood-sucking parasites (e.g., fleas, ticks, hookworms)
  • Lymphoma
  • Mass in stomach or intestine
  • Urinary tract infection




  • Complete blood test (CBC)
  • Packed cell volume test (PCV)
  • Urinalysis
  • Bone marrow aspirate
  • Test for iron in the blood
  • Fecal flotation to rule out hookworms
  • Fecal examination for blood




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