Feline Infectious Anaemia

Feline Infectious Anaemia is caused by Hemobartonella felis. It attaches itself to the surface of red blood cells, causing them to rupture, thereby creating the anaemia.

How the infection is passed from one cat to the next is not exactly clear but it has been shown that the disease can be transmitted by blood transfusion - so cat bites and blood sucking vectors such as fleas may well play a role.

The disease can occur in a primary form (where there is no other disease present), or the more common secondary form which occurs in cats that have a lowered immune response due to the presence of a chronic condition.

Cats with the primary acute form of the disease may run a temperature, be weak and lethargic and appear pale (anaemic).

Diagnosis is usually made by looking at a bloodsmear taken from the patient. However, just to make things a little more challenging, it can disappear from the circulation from time to time and so more than one smear is often required to confirm the diagnosis.

Cats that recover from the infection often become latent carriers and can show repeated symptoms of the disease over long periods of time (years!).

Feline Infectious Anaemia should be one of the differential diagnoses considered if a cat becomes anaemic without having suffered from an obvious loss of blood .e.g. wounds.