My cat is anemic and licking rocks – what can I do?

Our question this week was:

A couple of weeks before Christmas, Cleo began licking rocks and clay pots but seemed to be fine otherwise. We were away for several days over Christmas but had a pet sitter stop by once or twice a day to feed and water Cleo. Upon returning, Cleo would not get out of his bed unless I picked him up. He was very listless – no his playful, curious self. He also began eating the clay cat litter. I took him to the vet who immediately noticed he was pale. She kept him and ran a CBC (said it came back a 6) and a chem profile. She suspected that Cleo had ingested some rat poison (we don’t have any around, but it’s possible a neighbor might) and decided a blood transfusion was necessary. Cleo was in the hospital from Tuesday to Friday over New Years. He received antibiotic and steroid injections while there. He was sent home with Amoxi drops which he finished 3 days ago and Prednisone, which he is now taking every other day. Cleo is still pale and listless and still licking the rocks and trying to eat the clay cat litter, which I finally replaced with corncob litter. I called the vet 6 days ago to ask if Cleo shouldn’t be doing better by now but she told me it might possibly take up to 2 months for his body to get his blood built back up. I asked if there was anything else we should be doing for him and was told no. I guess I just need some assurance that we are doing what is necessary and that it will take a few weeks for Cleo to recover.

Valorie Stites


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote that your indoor-outdoor cat Cleo was licking clay and litter then became anemic. He received a blood transfusion and antibiotics and steroids but is still quite lethargic and pale.

I would expect Cleo to be doing A LOT better by now. It is true that it can take weeks to months for the blood count to be back to normal but I’d still expect to your cat to be doing pretty good now.

The question is – why was Cleo anemic? Is it from rat poison (if so – he should be on a special vitamin K1 antidote medication for the 2 to 4 weeks). Or is it because of an infectious disease (such as feline aids or feline leukemia) or because of an infectious disease (such as feline infectious anemia)?

There are a lot of open questions that I don’t know the answer to in order to properly guide you.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you are:

Rodenticide Toxicity in Cats
Feline immunodeficiency virus (Feline aids)
Feline leukemia virus
feline infectious anemia

I’d recommend that you read these – find out if they did clotting times on your cat (if they were prolonged – it was probably rat poison), if they found any infectious organisms in the blood and tested for feline leukemia and feline aids. Talk to your vet about the test results. If these weren’t done and your cat isn’t doing better – you may want to do additional tests. They may even want to do an x-ray to make sure your cat did not swallow a coin such as a penny, which can cause zinc toxicity.

Some cats will be treated with an antibiotic such as Doxycycline if they suspect an infectious disease.

Also- this article may be useful – Anemia in Cats. It is a general article that talks about what anemia is and all the possible causes.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra