Everyone knows that fleas bite to drink blood and that that can cause anemia in pets. However, it might alarm you to learn that even one single bite from a flea could potentially trigger severe anemia. There's a special reason why, and you're about to find out what it is.
Fleas don't just drink blood. They can also carry nasty parasites that can be transferred to your cat when they're bitten.
In this particular instance, the bacterium in question is called mycoplasma. It's a type of bacterial parasite that can wreak havoc on your cat's body in one particular way. All it takes is a single bite from an infected flea and it can be transmitted to your cat.
What Happens to Your Cat
Once this bacteria is in your cat's blood supply, it can cause a lot of problems, including severe anemia. Here's why.
The mycoplasma is recognized by the cat's immune system and targeted for attack. This is ordinarily a good thing, as the immune response is a must in order to beat bad bacteria and to keep living. However, mycoplasma bacteria are tricky. They attach themselves to healthy red blood cells that make up your cat's blood supply. When the immune system goes to attack the bacteria, it destroys the red blood cell at the same time. If enough red blood cells are destroyed, severe anemia can result.
Beating the Bacteria
The good news is, this condition can be treated easily if it's caught early on. Most mycoplasma can be targeted with antibiotics provided by your veterinarian's office. However, additional treatment may be required if the mycoplasma have already done a lot of damage to your cat's body.
A blood transfusion may be required in order to help your cat. This is blood that will be taken from a compatible donor cat, screened for disease, and then given to your kitty. The blood should help them to perk up and start feeling better right away.
Once your cat is treated and free of the mycoplasma, it's up to you to make sure that they don't catch it again. The best way to go about this is to ensure that your cat is receiving anti-flea treatments on a regular — usually monthly — basis. Talk to your vet if you have questions or don't know which anti-flea treatment is best for your cat. They will likely have recommendations and can teach you how to use or apply the medication, too.
For more information about pet wellness, contact a local veterinarian.