System gone haywire

By Connie Orcutt • Published: September 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

A cat’s immune system is usually a lean, mean, disease-fighting machine. But immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA, throws a wrench in the works.

With IMHA, a cat’s immune system destroys the body’s own red blood cells. These cells transport oxygen to the organs to keep them working.

A cat with IMHA sees its own red blood cells as intruders. This can happen if another disease, drug or toxin changes the cells’ appearance. If red blood cell production can’t keep up with destruction, the cat becomes anemic.

Some anemic cats are tired, weak or reluctant to eat. They may have pale or yellow gums or eye whites. Some lose weight, pass dark urine or have dark stool. Still others show no signs at all.

Whether you see signs of IMHA or simply want to make sure your kitty is like a well-oiled machine, check in with your veterinarian.