Anemic senior cat

Our question this week was:

My 10 year old cat, Mickey, has looked very healthy and energetic for the past 5 years that I’ve had him. As of late, he has been losing weight, in spite of eating well. Then, suddenly, he started to look sick, could hardly eat, and was very weak. He just wanted to hide under the bed. I took him to the vet right away and they found him dehydrated and very anemic.

They recommended a blood transfusion, but I did not want to go that far. They didn’t find any specific disease, except for the low red blood cell count. They said he should at least get Prednisone. After a day or two of TLC at home, he has picked up quite a bit, is eager to eat, though only nibbles at a time.

I am debating whether the Prednisone will be necessary. I have given him some raw ground beef and his regular canned food, as well as offering the usual dry food and water (which he doesn’t care for right now). He seems alert and very content, is constantly purring, and enjoys the raw meat and canned food. Should I try an iron-rich vitamin for the anemia?

I looked online and found there is a blood booster called Pet Tinic. But the label says that it’s pediatric drops. PRN’s Liqui-Tinic is another vitamin (both are by Pfizer) that has Iron and B vitamins. Do you recommend any of these? How would the Prednisone help him? I lean more towards natural healing.

Eliana Agnone


Hi – thanks for your email. I’m sorry to hear about your cat. I think anemia in a cat is never good. There are three primary reasons for a cat to be anemic. Basically, the causes are that they are losing blood, destroying their own blood, or not making new blood.

First, they are losing blood (which can occur from a bleeding tumor, loosing blood through a wound, or loosing blood through urine or a stomach ulcer among other reasons).

Second, they are destroying their own red blood cells. This can occur from immune diseases.

Lastly, they are not making blood. The most common reason for this is severe infections or cancer although there are many reasons.

All of the causes for anemia are potentially very serious. Generally, I consider a blood transfusion a “patch”. It is not going to fix the underlying problem but can make your cat feel a lot better while the problem is being diagnosed (and in many cases allow your cat to live long enough to get a diagnosis).

I’ve done many blood transfusions that have saved cats lives and allowed me to find the underlying problem. Several tests can be done – to figure out which of the 3 problems is causing the anemia. Once you know the underlying problem, then you can work on what can be done to try to fix it.

I understand your tendency toward “natural healing” however, in severe situations like this, it is often just not enough. Once you have a diagnosis and you are maximizing the treatment of the underlying condition, I think natural healing can be a good augmentation.

As far as vitamins go, I think the Pet Tinic is a reasonable choice.

An article that might be helpful to you is on our is “Anemia in Cats

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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