What is this New Rare Cat Illness Called Pancytopenia?

Sick cats

Pancytopenia in cats is a medical condition that occurs when their red and white blood cells and platelets drastically decrease. If a cat is healthy, the red blood cells help with oxygen production, the white blood cells fight infection, and the platelets form clots to help slow bleeding. A rapid decrease will often be fatal. According to PetMD, Pancytopenia is not a disease but the development of blood-related deficiencies. These include non-regenerative anemia, leucopenia, and thrombocytopenia. Unfortunately, cats are masters at hiding symptoms of this disease. Additionally, there isn’t a specific breed or age the disease affects most. Sadly once they start to show signs of this condition, it may already be too late to save them. You can do several things if you suspect your cat is in the early stages of Pancytopenia.

Signs and symptoms

There is a myriad of different symptoms of this condition. However, even if they aren’t all present and if you suspect something is wrong, it’s best to take your cat to the vet to check out. According to the Great Catsby Cat Hotel, these are signs and things to check for if you suspect your cat may have Pancytopenia. Your doesn’t seem to be acting like themselves, including no sense of equilibrium, low energy, or you feel like something is wrong with their disposition. Another thing to check is their food dish. If your cat is eating far less than expected, it may be a sign you need to take your cat to the vet for a blood test. You can also check their gums, nose, paw pads, and around the eyelids. If any of these are paler than usual, it may be a sign of Pancytopenia. Since one of the issues with this disease is a lack of clotting, you may see bleeding from the nose, eyes, or gums. Worse, you might see bleeding from the anus or vagina. Check their litter box for signs of blood in their stools. Additionally, if they throw up, make sure it doesn’t have streaks of blood.


Many things may cause Pancytopenia. Your cat may have been exposed to the tick-borne disease ehrlichiosis. Additionally, they may have ingested a poison such as thallium. Your cat may have one of several different diseases, including bone-marrow cancer, aplastic anemia, immune system disorder, sepsis, or another infectious disease. Exposure may also occur when a cat’s food has been compromised, which is the case across the pond. Currently, cases in the United Kingdom are rising. According to yourcat.co, the Royal Veterinary College reported on Monday, June 21rst, 278 cats in their veterinary clinics have contracted this condition. Sadly, of these cases, there is a 70% mortality rate. As these cases continued to rise, they investigated the causes and found common links in the cat’s diets. Applaws dry cat food, Sainsbury’s Hypoallergenic dry cat food, and AVA dry cat food have all been recalled. For a complete list, visit food.gov.uk.

If your cat has eaten any of these, stop serving it to them immediately and reach out to your vet. If your cat doesn’t show any symptoms, they may suggest you keep an eye on them. However, remember you know your cat best, so take them in to see the vet if you are concerned. The Royal Veterinary College has given veterinarians surveys to help track the similarities between the cases. Since so many different brands were affected during this recall, the manufacturer may have limited support to assist you. Moreover, many people may not have read about this alarming trend. So, it’s best to contact your local pet food store if you purchased any of the brands listed on the recall. This will help them alert other consumers about the potentially tainted food. However, if your cat hasn’t gotten sick, it’s best not to add to the elevating concern by posting scathing reviews.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you suspect your cat has been infected, a vet will need to run a complete blood count, telling them the number of red and white blood cells and platelets. If there is cause for concern, they may need to run additional tests and scans, including a urine test, which will help them discover the root cause. Treatment for your cat depends on the severity of the case; blood cell counts will need to be elevated. Quite possibly, they will need blood transfusions and antibiotics. A veterinarian may also suggest a specialist perform a bone marrow biopsy. If your cat is diagnosed, they will need daily monitoring of their body temperature and additional blood count monitoring. If the case is severe, your cat may need to stay in a hospital, and other forms of therapy may be necessary. Since this is an emergency procedure that requires a lot of medical attention, it will be costly. It’s best to speak with your veterinarian about your financial situation. Depending on the severity of the case, they may recommend a different course of action. If your cat is in intense pain, treatment may not be an option. However, putting your cat to sleep should be a last resort.

Final thoughts

It’s easy to get swept up in the social media frenzy when something like this happens. Try to stay calm because your cat will pick up on your stress. Remember, if you look at WebMD when you have a cold, you may wind up with Ebola. Similarly, if you look at PetMD, you may start seeing symptoms of many other illnesses your cat doesn’t have. You know your cat best, so if they show signs that something is wrong, it’s best to have them checked out. It’s also not a good idea to lose sleep worrying about what may or may not happen, so a vet visit may be an excellent option to get everything checked out. Pancytopenia can be fatal, so it’s best not to delay once you think your cat may be infected.

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