Vets issue advice to cat owners amid rise in deadly illness

A recent spike in cases of a rare, potentially fatal, condition called pancytopenia in cats has been reported.

Vets are uncertain what may be causing this but a possible link to certain dry diets has been identified.

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is aware of 278 cats that have been treated at their hospitals and ithrough information provided by vets in the UK.

Common symptoms include lethargy and loss of appetite, although in some cases there can be signs of spontaneous bleeding or bruising, primarily due to low numbers of platelets which the body needs to form clots and repair tissue wear and tear.

Video Vets Now, with clinics in Lincoln and Hull, are offering online video consultations to cat owners who suspect their cats may have been affected by pancytopenia, where owners can make an appointment and experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns you might have.

One of the country’s leading emergency vets, Dave Leicester, head of telehealth at Vets Now, said: “Pancytopenia is the medical term used to describe the condition when all three cell types of blood (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets) are low in number.

"Pancytopenia isn’t a disease in itself, but rather it is a clinical sign that may have lots of different potential causes such as infection, toxins or cancer. All three cell lines are decreased either because of either increased destruction of the cells in circulation, or decreased production in the bone marrow.

“Although there is no specific treatment for pancytopenia itself, and the prognosis is, unfortunately, usually very poor, your vet will look to find the blood cell deficiencies, and try to identify and treat the underlying cause. Supportive treatment may include administering antibiotics and other medications such as drugs that stimulate bone marrow and most cases require blood transfusions to replace the lost cells.

“We are encouraging owners to seek urgent veterinary advice if they are worried that their cat may be affected. If you are worried, you can book an online video consultation with Video Vets Now, where you can speak to an experienced vet to discuss any concerns or worries you might have about your cat.”