Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey
Our cat Willy, a male domestic shorthair, is five months old ....a blood test showed that his platelets are really low; a cat's should be between 200-500 and his were 35. His white blood cells were also quite low. Everything else showed up fine -- his red blood cells were slightly low, but that was likely because he'd lost some blood -- and he tested negative for FIV and feline leukemia. He started a two-week course of steroids and antibiotics that he is almost done; we're scheduled to bring him back for a follow-up and another blood test on Saturday. We'll also be bringing in a stool sample for a parasite test then as well, which we were planning to do before this all happened.
Has anyone else had experience with this? I wish I knew the cause of the low platelets, and also what we can do to boost his immune system. Any advice or insight?
How low are the white blood cells? Mildly or also severely?
So when we have low blood cell counts, then the causes are: 1) lack of production, 2) loss (ie blood loss) or 3) destruction.
Lack of production could indicate a bone marrow disease. Bone marrow function can be a little different to diagnose as it requires a bone marrow sample. It is unusual that the RBC is near normal but it could still be bone marrow disease. There are other causes of lack of production but we will usually see other clinical signs.
For blood loss, we would not see severely low platelets in contrast to the other populations. With that said, cat blood samples often have artificially low numbers due to platelet clumping however if we have clinical signs and your vet is worried about the platelets, then we are working under the assumption that this number is true.
For destruction, we can have auto immune causes (the reason your vet used steroids), infections (rickettsial disease, viral diseases (other than FeLV and FIV such as a calici variant), bacterial infection, cytauxzoonosis, etc), tumors such as LSA lymphosarcoma, and other causes.
With a number as low as 35, I would recommend daily platelet testing. This may depend upon the size of the cat and the type of blood machine used. Some platelet tests only one or two drops of blood, some require a vial. However it is important to note that a true number of 35 would place the pet at risk for spontaneous hemorrhage which could result in death. So this is very serious.
Many times we do not have the answer to the cause. If your cat is feeling better and the medications work and the numbers are back, then monitoring would be the next step. With a course of antibiotics and steroids then an infection would be the most likely. Primary auto immune disorders will usually require longer than a two week course of medications.
If the numbers are not improving then you may likely have to start running more tests and quickly. If clinical signs or other blood values worsen then blood transfusion may be necessary.
I hope that this helps.