Cyanosis in Cats
Once the blue skin symptoms appear your cat is in serious trouble

Cyanosis in cats and the blue skin coloration it brings is one of the most alarming symptoms that any cat owner will ever face.

It is a condition known as Cyanosis and is caused by a lack of oxygen in your cat’s blood.


It is extremely serious and the first signs that you will see is a bluish or purplish color in your cat’s skin or mucous membranes.

Cats blue skin can be as simple as cold temperatures or it could be caused by something much more sinister such as heart failure.

It may also by caused by lung diseases or an exposure to a chemical that is basically smothering your pet.

In most all cases, it is caused by an underlying condition and if not treated by your veterinarian very quickly, it could take your cats life.

Blood contains a red pigment called hemoglobin in its red blood cells.

Hemoglobin delivers oxygen from the lungs and circulates it through your cat’s arteries and releases it to cells through capillaries.

After releasing the oxygen, the blood than circulates back into the lungs through the capillaries and veins.

Both hemoglobin and blood are bright red, but they both turn bluish after the release of the oxygen.

Proud catsCyanosis in cats does have effective treatments

The first signs of distress that your cat will show will be in the tongue, gums, and the lips.

The foot pad, as well as areas in their skin where the vessels are very close to the surface, will also give you signs.

If you see a bluish or purple tint and it is not extremely cold, something may be horribly wrong.

Your pet’s body is not binding the oxygen properly in this process and they may be smothering to death.


Cyanosis in cats has two forms; central and peripheral.

The central form is the most dangerous for your cat as the entire blood supply is being de-saturated of its oxygen as the supply is diminished.

This form of the disease will affect every tissue in your pet’s body.

The peripheral form of cyanosis is caused by the hemoglobin being de-saturated, but it is confined in just one part of your cat’s body.

With this form you may see a bluish tint either their paws or their mucous membranes, as nowhere else has been affected.

All cats that have central cyanosis will show symptoms of the peripheral form, but it is possible for it to stay isolated in selected areas of the body as there may be a blood clot that is affecting just those areas.


The causes of this potentially life threatening condition in your cat will depend on what form they have. The most common cause of the peripheral type will be hypothermia.

However, this still could be a medical emergency as your cat is losing body heat faster than it can replace it.

Cyanosis in cats can be brought on by exposure to extremely cold temperatures, very high cold winds, or your cat being exposed to very cold water.

If left untreated, this condition could cause both heart failure as well as respiratory failure in your cat.

This form could also be caused by a blood clot, which is known as Thromboembolism.

This condition is most common in cats that have some form of a heart disease as the clot has traveled down your pets’ aorta and generally affects their rear legs.

Peripheral Cyanosis in cats could also be caused by a shock to their system such as a tourniquet that has stopped the supply of blood.

The central form of this disease could be caused by either a problem in the heart or in the lungs.

If it is heart problems, the most common problem is congenital heart disease which is a defect that is present at the birth of your cat.

For this reason, most all kittens or young cats that develop the disease where the blood bypasses the lungs without getting the much needed oxygen.

However, it could also be triggered by what is known as hole in the heart; which changes the normal flow of blood.

If the problem is associated with the lungs, there are numerous potential causes.

The condition could be caused hypo-ventilation where your cat can not breathe properly, respiratory muscle failure, tumors, inflammatory cells, or cancer.

However, one of the most common forms is some type of reaction that your cat has had to a chemical; and this has severely impacted the flow of blood.


The proper treatment for Cyanosis in cats will have to first start with the proper diagnosis.

The most effective way for your veterinarian to properly test and diagnosis this condition is called ABG, or Arterial blood gas.

It will involve gathering samples of arterial blood from your cat when they are being supplied with 100 percent oxygen.

This method allows for an extremely accurate diagnosis of the exact cause as it very quickly rules out what is not the cause.

If the cause of the condition is in the lungs, the testing process utilizing the oxygen will in most cases cure the problem, unless it is caused by as methemoglobin.

This is an abnormal form of hemoglobin in that it cannot bind oxygen.

If the actual cause of the condition is congenital heart disease the only method of treatment will be to surgery to correct the problem.

If the problem is a result of a respiratory distress, antibiotics will be used; if it is fluid on the lungs, diuretics will be used.

If the actual cause of cyanosis is a chemical reaction that is causing the oxygen not to bind properly, the treatment will be to find and eliminate the cause and then treat it with antibiotics.


Cyanosis in cats and the blue skin symptoms are a very serious threat to your pet.

If see any of these symptoms, it is an emergency situation that needs immediate help in getting oxygen back into your cat.

Building your cat’s immune system and helping the blood flow will also be very important.

Supplementing your cat with Vitamin E will help the oxidation loss as it keeps your pets arteries both elastic and flexible.

It also helps to prevent clogging as well clotting.

This vitamin also allows the blood to flow more easily through the arteries and may help your cat from losing any oxygen in their blood.

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