Feline Infectious Anemia
The way that it is actually transmitted is still not fully understood

Feline infectious anemia and its actual impact on your cat can vary tremendously. In some cases, it may be very mild, while in other cases it can be extreme.

This potentially very dangerous disease can cause severe weakness in your cat, a very sudden onset of anorexia, as well as anemia.

However, if it severe enough and is not treated very quickly, it can take your cats life as it is that dangerous.

It is a very challenging disease and can affect all breeds of cats worldwide at any age.

It also has other very challenging factors as it comes in four different phases: the pre-parasitemic phase, the acute phase, as well as the recovery and the carrier phase.

WHAT IS FELINE INFECTIOUS ANEMIA

Feline infectious anemia is also known by two other names, hemobartonellosis as well as hemotropic mycoplasmosis.

It is an infectious disease that is carried by insect vectors, but to this date, the medical community is still not absolutely sure which kind.

The actual cause is from a parasite referred to as Mycoplasma haemofelis, and it causes hemolytic anemia, which can be extremely dangerous to your cat.

The reason for this is that this particular type of anemia causes your cats body to destroy its own red blood cells simply because to their immune system, they look different.

It was first identified in the United States in 1953, and has been studied even since then to try to fully understand this potential killer.

Mean green eyesFeline infectious anemia must be taken very seriuosly

It is estimated that somewhere between 5 percent to as high as 8 percent of the entire cat population have this disease.

Or, they have had it and is now a carrier.

The actual way that Feline infectious anemia is transmitted is still not fully understood.

However,  it is believed to be by some type of an insect such as mosquitoes, fleas, or ticks.

These insect vectors must have direct contact with your cat via a bite wound and then by blood transfusions.

However, it is also held in some parts of the medical community that it can also be transmitted in the utero of the infected queen as well as by her breast milk.

The major reason for this is that there have been reported cases where litters have become infected as early as three to five hours after birth.

THE RISK FACTORS

Feline infectious anemia is also believed to have several predisposing risk factors that increase the chances of certain cats being infected.

Because it is a disease that triggers your cat’s immune system to attack itself, any type of illness that your cat may have naturally places them at a higher degree of risk.

If your cat already has anemia, the chances of developing this disease also rises dramatically.

It is also believed that there may be a direct link of some kind between FeLV, or Feline leukemia virus, as several reported cases included both diseases.

It is also held that if your cat does not have regular vaccinations, they may also be much more prone to develop this disease.

Other factors include abscesses that are caused by bite wounds from other cats, as well as age.

Feline infectious anemia seems to attack cats that are three years old or younger in the majority of cases.

Finally, if your cat lives outdoors and roams freely, they are also at a much higher degree of risk.

However, the breed of your cat, at least at this point in the research, has absolutely nothing to do with the risk factors as all breeds are affected equally.

THE FOUR DIFFERENT STAGES

If your cat becomes infected with Feline infectious anemia, they will undergo four different stages of the disease.

The first stage is referred to as the pre-parasitemic phase and it will last from two days to three weeks.

In this stage, your cat will become infected but will not show any symptoms at all that anything is wrong.

Also in this stage, even if your cat was tested, the organism or the parasite could not be detected.

The second phase is referred to as the acute phase, and this can last anywhere between two months to as long as four months.

It is in this stage that the symptoms will start to develop, as well as the actual presence of the parasite or organism in your cat’s blood.

However, this is one of the factors that make this disease so challenging; it may show up in a test one day, but not the following day.

The symptoms also make it extremely challenging as some cats may show only mild symptoms while others will may be so severely affected that if is not treated immediately, it can literally take their lives.

The third phase is the recovery stage and this can also vary dramatically. In this phase some cats may still show signs of very mild anemia, while others will show absolutely no signs.

The fourth phase is referred to as the carrier stage and this can last for years.

In fact, this is one of the major focuses on the studies with Feline infectious anemia, as no one really understands how long your cat can remain a carrier and if they can actually spread the disease.

THE SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR

Feline infectious anemia will not show you a lot of symptoms, but this disease is so potentially dangerous, that the ones that do surface have to be taken very seriously.

The first symptom will be weakness in your cat that can be very gradual or it can hit them very suddenly.

Once this occurs, you will see many of the same signs that you would see with regular anemia.

This includes pale or yellow signs in the membranes of both their gums as well as their nose.

The next sign that you will see does not occur with many diseases, so if you do see it, take it very serious; body tenderness. However, this will be no ordinary type of tenderness as it will affect your cat’s entire body.

In severe cases, your cat may also show signs of tachypnea, which is a very rapid breathing, as well as anorexia.

TREATMENTS AND PREVENTION

Treatments for Feline infectious anemia will depend on the severity.

However, all forms of treatments will be designed to do two things; control the parasite as well as stop your cats own immune system for destroying its red blood cells.

In mild cases, antibiotics will be used and doxycycline has shown to be the most effective as well as having the fewest side effects.

If it is severe, corticosteroids may have to be used. However, if they are recommended discuss it in depth with your veterinarian as they are very controversial and can have severe side effects.

Blood transfusions may also have to be utilized in the most severe of cases, but at this point you may have to make a very difficult decision unless you have insurance, as this can be very expensive.

Perhaps the most effective form of treatment will be the preventative kind.

Although you can never fully protect your cat form this potential killer simply because it is still not entirely understood, it is widely held that you can control it.

Much like any other disease that is transmitted by fleas, ticks, or mosquitoes, there are several very effective products you can use.

Building your cat immune system with supplements as well as keeping them indoors can also help in preventing it.

Summary

Feline infectious anemia is still being researched, but what is known is that it can be either very mild or it can literally threaten your cats life.

Understanding the few symptoms that it does show as well as taking preventive measures may be the best defense you have against this potential killer of cats.

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