Anemia Due to Deformed Red Blood Cells in Cats

By PetMD Editorial on Jun. 8, 2009

Anemia, Metabolic (Anemias With Spiculated Red Cells) in Cats

Anemia can occur in cats for number of reasons, and anemia can be categorized on the basis of cause(s). Metabolic anemia in cats occurs as the result of any disease related to the kidney, liver, or spleen by which the shape of red blood cells (RBCs) is changed. Normally, red blood cells (RBCs) in cats are of a biconcave discoid shape, but in metabolic anemia, this particular shape is lost and various abnormal projections come out of the surface of RBCs. These blood cells are usually elongated and blunt, with finger shaped projections called spicules rising from the surface – which can be viewed under a microscope. These abnormalities of the RBCs can affect their functions and left untreated, can lead to anemia in affected cats.

Symptoms and Types

There are no specific symptoms related to metabolic anemia. However, the symptoms related to diseases of the kidney, liver, or spleen responsible for metabolic anemia may be present.


  • Any disease of the kidney, liver, or spleen
  • Hemangiosarcoma (malignant cancer) of the liver is frequently seen as a common cause in cats with fatty liver syndrome


You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health and onset of symptoms Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination on your cat, including laboratory tests. A complete blood profile, biochemistry profile, complete blood count and urinalysis will be performed. The results of all these tests will provide valuable information for the diagnosis of this disease. These tests will also provide important clues for diagnosing the underlying disease of the kidney, liver, or spleen, which may be responsible for the metabolic anemia. X-ray imaging and ultrasound will expand your veterinarian's ability to evaluate the liver, kidney, and spleen structures.



There is no specific treatment for metabolic anemia. Treating the underlying disease usually resolves the problem. Once the underlying disease has been diagnosed, your veterinarian will begin the appropriate treatment.

Living and Management

You will need to revisit your veterinarian for progress checks. At each visit certain laboratory tests may need to be repeated in order to follow the current status of the disease and level of improvement. Follow your veterinarian's guidelines regarding your cat's medication, nutrition, and management during the recovery period.

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