How much blood does a cat have?

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About seven percent of the feline body is blood, a specialized body fluid. It has four main components: plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Blood is responsible for:
• transporting oxygen and nutrients to the lungs and tissues
• forming blood clots to prevent excess blood loss
• carrying cells and antibodies that fight infection
• bringing waste products to the kidneys and liver, which filter and clean the blood
• regulating body temperature
Critically ill veterinary patients with cancer, anemia, underlying clotting problems, or trauma (that is, internal bleeding from a motor vehicle accident) often need blood or plasma. Blood products can be a life-saving treatment. When a cat donates blood, about two ounces is taken—so the veterinarian first conduct a thorough exam to be sure your cat is healthy and not anemic.

Sometimes, cats do become anemic, however, due to cancer or other diseases, such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). If the anemia is severe:

• Allow your cat to have a blood transfusion. The main purpose of a blood transfusion is to stabilize the cat long enough to allow the veterinarian to arrive at the cause of the anemia. Once that has been diagnosed, further treatment will be administered accordingly.
• Consider antiviral therapy if your cat is diagnosed with the FIV or feline leukemia virus (FeLV) as the cause of this anemia. Some antiviral therapies can help some FIV-infected cats. Blood transfusions may be frequent to treat anemia in these cases.
• Make sure your cat is getting enough blood-building nutrients. Feed your cat hematinics (vitamins and minerals such as B-12 supplements and folic acid), which can especially improve mild to moderate anemia caused by malnourishment. You can also feed her high-quality commercial cat food that contains iron in the form of liver, non-fatty meats, whole grains and legumes. Cats should get 36.4 mg of iron (not in the form of iron oxide or carbonate) daily for every pound of dry food they eat.

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