We love our pets, and the best way to show them that we care for them is to make sure that they are always in good condition. Like humans, health is equally important to them. Also, some diseases in humans can occur in animals, too. One of them is low platelet count. If we can treat this condition that affects humans, is it also curable in cats? Are their platelets the same as what we have?
Thrombocytopenia is a condition in which there is a low production of platelets in the body of cats. The platelet count that is below 20,000 per microliter of blood is considered small and has a high risk of bleeding. Platelets are mainly created in the bone marrow and travel in the bloodstream. These elements are fragments of megakaryocytes. They play a significant role in hemostasis or blood clotting. It can affect cats of any age.
When they have a low platelet count, bleeding can quickly occur on the wounded area. It is why there should be enough platelets to protect the body. Sometimes, bleeding can also happen even when the cat has no wound. It can exist on its brain and even on the intestinal tracts. This situation is life-threatening that can lead to death if treatment is not done immediately.
Observe your cat is showing any of the following signs:
- Bleeding in the urine or hematuria
- Blood in the stool or hematochezia
- Nasal mucus
- Heart murmur
- Retinal hemorrhage
- Nosebleed or epistaxis
Understanding the causes of a low platelet count in cats can help a veterinarian find the best treatment for its condition.
Leukemia is a type of cancer affecting bone marrow and blood. It occurs if the megakaryocytes are higher in number compared to the platelets that are produced. Even the treatment used for leukemia can destroy the cells of the body. One example is chemotherapy. It can contain medicines that release antibodies to eliminate the cancer cells supposedly. However, it also recognizes the platelets and other components of the blood as invaders of the body, so it also destroys them.
A virus can crowd on the different parts of the body, causing the growth of certain diseases like feline infectious peritonitis, feline leukemia virus, and feline immunodeficiency virus. These types of illnesses can decrease the number of platelets most especially if the immune system of the cat is too weak to fight them.
Be aware that the cat’s body is prone to toxin since it has different environment and lifestyle. These toxins can harm the system and damage even the tissues. Of course, platelets are not excluded when it comes to the destruction.
In cats, splenomegaly is the term for spleen enlargement. It is usual that the spleen stores platelets inside it which are about 40% of the total number of platelets present in his body. However, the disorder of this organ can lead to complication in which it collects more platelets than the regular level. As a result, there will only be a fewer of them to travel in the bloodstream along with the other components of the blood. When a wound occurs for some reason, there is not enough of them to form a clot on the affected area, thus, leading to bleeding.
Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)
Sometimes, the body of the cats uses more platelets than what the bone marrow can produce. There are not enough platelets being created to replace the lost ones. This condition is one of the most common causes of low platelet count in cats.
This condition is sometimes inherited. In this case, the immune system is mistakenly killing the cells of the body. It targets not just the foreign materials that enter the cat’s body, but the platelets and other blood cells as well.
The veterinarian will perform a series of examinations to see to signs of thrombocytopenia. A complete blood count is also necessary to check if the other components of the blood are causing the issue to occur. He will also do serum biochemistry to check if the organs of its body have abnormal functions.
Other tests he may do includes urinalysis, bone marrow sample, and evaluation if a trauma is present. The latter will help him find out if there is hemorrhage in the body most especially in the brain.
The bone marrow sample, on the other hand, allows him to check whether there are abnormalities present in this organ. Sometimes, the cause of the disease is the malfunctioning of bone marrow itself. By gathering all the necessary data, the veterinarian can recommend an excellent treatment for the condition.
The veterinarian will treat the underlying cause as long as there is no risk of bleeding. He will also provide corticosteroids to regulate the immune system and prevent it from destructing the platelets. He may also prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria affecting the platelets and other cells. One example of an administered drug is tetracyclines.
Another treatment that is usually given especially during emergency cases is platelet transfusion. However, it is often a temporary solution. It is just done to replace the lost platelets while the bone marrow is recovering. A whole blood transfusion or one that contains plasma is used to prevent hemorrhage and save the life of the cat.
Aside from what the veterinarian can do, you can also try some remedies at home. Make sure that the surroundings where your cat is playing are clean. Check if there is a spread of tick. This pest can bite your pet because it can cause ehrlichiosis, a condition brought by bacterial agents called rickettsia. This disease can be transmitted and can surely damage the platelets and cells of the cat.
You also need to report the problem to your doctor if there is blood in his urine or stool. Use the list of symptoms above for your reference and check if your cat is experiencing those signs.