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Assessment of anemia in cats

Korman RM, Hetzel N, Knowles TG, Harvey AM and Tasker S. A retrospective study of 180 anaemic cats: features, aetiologies and survival data. J Feline Med Surg. 2013; 15: 81-90

Anemia is defined as a decreased number of red blood cells (RBCs) or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. Cats are more prone to anemia than other species due to having a shorter RBC life span (~ 70 days compared to ~120 days in other species) and having RBCs with increased susceptibility to oxidative stress. Therefore, anemia is one of the most common hematologic abnormalities found in the feline patient.

This retrospective study assessed 180 anemic cats presented to a referral clinic with complete medical records. Assessment included classification by the mechanism of anemia development (i.e., bone marrow abnormalities, hemorrhage, or hemolysis), by DAMNITV classification (degenerative, anomalous, metabolic, miscellaneous, neoplastic, infectious, inflammatory, immune-mediated, toxic, traumatic, or vascular disease), and by severity. 

Based on the mechanism of anemia development, bone marrow abnormalities were more common than hemorrhage or hemolysis. Bone marrow abnormalities were significantly associated with more severe anemia. In addition, cats with hemolysis were more likely to survive to discharge than cats with bone marrow abnormalities. Based on DAMNITV classification, infectious and neoplastic diseases were most common. Cats with neoplasia (cancer) were less likely than cats with immune-mediated disease to survive to discharge. Interestingly, survival to discharge was not associated with anemia severity, suggesting that clinical treatment decisions should not be based on severity alone. Younger cats were also more likely to survive to discharge than older cats. [GO]

See also: Chalhoub S, Langston CE and Eatroff A. Anemia of renal disease: What it is, what to do and what’s new. Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery. 2011; 13: 629-40