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Thrombocytopathies in Cats: Causes Symptoms Diagnosis and Treatment

Thrombocytopathies in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and


Cats may appear to be graceful and agile creatures, but they are not immune to health issues. One such condition is thrombocytopathy, which occurs when there is a disruption in the ability of the blood platelets to clot properly.

This unpredictable disorder can cause spontaneous bleeding and coagulopathy, which can be fatal if left untreated. If you are a cat parent, it is essential to know about the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of thrombocytopathy.

This article will provide detailed information on the subject.

Definition and Causes

Thrombocytopathy, also known as platelet dysfunction, can be classified as hereditary or acquired. Hereditary thrombocytopathy is common in certain breeds, such as the Scottish fold, where the platelets do not function properly due to a defect in their genes.

In contrast, acquired thrombocytopathy occurs secondary to another underlying illness, medication, or environmental factors. One of the common acquired causes of thrombocytopathy in cats is the ingestion of certain medications.

Painkillers, anesthetics, antibiotics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can all affect platelet function, making them less effective. Systemic disease is another cause of acquired thrombocytopathy.

Diseases such as liver disease, kidney disease, and cancer can all lead to low platelet numbers or poor platelet function. Other causes of thrombocytopathy in cats include viral infections, tick-borne diseases, and immune-mediated diseases.

Symptoms and Types

Spontaneous Bleeding

One of the most common symptoms of thrombocytopathy in cats is spontaneous bleeding. Platelets are responsible for forming the first line of defense when it comes to blood clotting, and without them, even small injuries can lead to bleeding.

Mucosal surfaces are most commonly affected by spontaneous bleeding. The gums, nose and ear tips, and the anus may all show signs of bleeding.

Nosebleeds, known as epistaxis, are usually the most common form of spontaneous bleeding in cats with thrombocytopathy.

Acquired Thrombocytopathy

Drugs are common causes of acquired thrombocytopathy, and certain medications can lead to increased bleeding risks. This may manifest through severe gastrointestinal bleeding or ecchymosis (bruising).

If a cat ingests drugs that cause platelet dysfunction, the symptoms of thrombocytopathy may show up days or weeks after the medication has been administered.

Hereditary Thrombocytopathy

One of the most common forms of hereditary thrombocytopathy in cats is von Willebrand disease, which affects the von Willebrand factor, a protein essential for blood clotting. The Aggregation defect is another common genetic defect that leads to thrombocytopathy in cats.

It occurs when the cat’s platelets fail to clot when they come in contact with collagen or another substance that induces platelet aggregation. Chediak-Higashi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects cats’ platelet function, causes abnormal aggregation and adhesion of platelets during the clotting process.


Diagnosing thrombocytopathy requires extensive physical examination, medical history review, and blood tests. The physical examination will include a thorough visual examination of the cat’s ears, gums, and other mucosal surfaces for signs of bleeding.

An analysis of the cat’s medical history aids in finding out about possible exposure to drugs or other underlying diseases. Blood tests, including complete blood count (CBC), coagulation profile, and platelet function testing, may also be necessary.

The platelet function tests investigate the ability of the platelets to perform their role in blood clotting, and specific tests, such as the buccal mucosal bleeding time (BMBT), can be used to diagnose the underlying cause of thrombocytopathy.


Thrombocytopathy is a severe and potentially life-threatening disorder in cats. The precise diagnosis and treatment are essential in managing it effectively.

By being aware of the signs and causes of thrombocytopathy, you can improve your cat’s chances of recovery and prevent fatality. If you suspect that your cat is showing signs of thrombocytopathy, contact your veterinarian immediately.

A quick diagnosis can make all the difference in your pet’s recovery. Thrombocytopathy in Cats:


Treatment, and


Thrombocytopathy, a disorder that affects the proper functioning of platelets, is a severe health issue in cats. It can lead to spontaneous bleeding, anemia, and coagulopathy, which can be fatal if left untreated.

That is why early diagnosis and timely treatment are crucial in managing the disease. In this article, we will continue our discussion on thrombocytopathy in cats by covering the various diagnostic methods, treatment options, and management strategies for the condition.


To determine if a cat has thrombocytopathy, several tests are required. These tests include physical examination, medical history review, and lab tests.

Physical Exam and Medical History

During the physical examination, the vet will look for signs of bleeding in the cat’s mucosal surfaces, such as the gums, nose, and anus. The vet will also take a detailed medical history, which may include information on any medications the cat has been taking, onset of symptoms, and any underlying illnesses.

Lab Tests

Lab tests are essential in the diagnosis of thrombocytopathy. Routine lab tests including:

– Biochemical profile, complete blood count, urinalysis.

These are essential tests that provide a general picture of the cat’s overall health, including red and white blood cell count, electrolytes levels, and kidney function. – Anemia testing: This diagnosis by performing hemoglobin or packed cell volume (PCV) tests.

Anemia may be present due to excessive bleeding. – von Willebrand disease assay: This blood test is used to check for von Willebrand disease, a genetic condition that affects blood clotting.

– Coagulation tests: These tests measure the time it takes for the blood to clot, a crucial factor in diagnosing bleeding disorders. – Buccal mucosal bleeding time: This test is used to assess platelet activity by making a small incision on the cat’s lip and measuring how long it takes for the bleeding to stop.


The treatment of thrombocytopathy in cats depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause.

Platelet Transfusion

In severe cases of thrombocytopathy, platelet transfusion may be necessary to improve the cat’s platelet count and function. Cats with a low platelet count or poor platelet function may require whole blood or packed red cells transfusion to improve their condition.



Cats with severe thrombocytopathy may suffer from anemia due to significant blood loss. Anemia may require treatment with whole blood and packed red cells transfusion to replace the blood loss.

Underlying Cause


Treating the underlying cause of the condition is essential in managing thrombocytopathy. For instance, if the cat has thrombocytopathy due to a medication, discontinuing the medication may help improve the cat’s condition.

If the cause is a systemic disease such as liver or kidney disease, treating the underlying illness may help manage the thrombocytopathy symptoms.


Once the condition has been diagnosed and treated, management is essential to prevent the reoccurrence of thrombocytopathy. Here are some management strategies for preventing thrombocytopathy in cats.

Bleeding Precautions

In cats diagnosed with thrombocytopathy, it is essential to take precautions to prevent spontaneous bleeding. Restricting activities, feeding the cat soft food, and using a covered litter box can help prevent physical injury that can cause bleeding.

Cat owners can also use styptic powder to stop bleeding or provide aspirin to manage pain.

Hereditary Disorders

For cats with hereditary thrombocytopathy, such as von Willebrand disease, spaying and neutering may be necessary to prevent the condition from being passed on to offspring.


Thrombocytopathy is a severe disorder in cats that can lead to spontaneous bleeding, anemia, and coagulopathy. Early diagnosis and timely treatment can help prevent the disease from becoming fatal.

Platelet transfusions, anemia treatment, and treating the underlying cause can help manage thrombocytopathy symptoms. Bleeding precautions, such as restricting activities and feeding the cat soft food, and spaying and neutering are essential management strategies for preventing thrombocytopathy in cats.

If you suspect your cat has thrombocytopathy, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately. Thrombocytopathy is a potentially life-threatening disorder in cats that affects blood platelets’ ability to clot properly.

Early diagnosis and timely treatment are essential in managing the disease. Thrombocytopathy can be classified as either hereditary or acquired, and a variety of diagnostic tests are necessary to determine the underlying cause.

Platelet transfusions, anemia treatment, addressing the underlying cause, and precautionary management strategies are all effective ways to manage thrombocytopathy symptoms. Spaying and neutering can prevent the inheritance of certain hereditary thrombocytopathies.

If you suspect your cat has thrombocytopathy, it’s vital to seek veterinary attention immediately. Proper education and awareness of thrombocytopathy’s essential features and management play a crucial role in saving pets’ lives.

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