My cat was diagnosed with a rare blood disease.

Asked November 11, 2015, 7:53 AM EST

My male cat was recently diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera. He is approximately 8 years old. I was told there is not a lot of literature on this disease. He has been put on Hydroxyurea. What is the life expectancy and quality of life for him?

Bibb County Alabama

6 Responses

Unfortunately, we don't have anyone available to answer your question. I suggest you contact a local veterinarian for advice.

I was hoping that Companion Animals or someone from the LGU's might know of some research being done. There is so little literature out there, that my Vet, who specializes in cats, had trouble finding information, which is why I reached out to AaE.

I'm sorry to hear about your cat.

Polycythemia vera is a very rare disease, and because of that, I think there is little research on it. Because it is a human disease as well, I think most of the research and information about it has been in humans. I have seen a lot of anecdotal information regarding cats that have lived for years receiving hydroxyurea and/or phlebotomy (drawing out blood and replacing it with fluids in order to decrease the red blood cell volume). I think the prognosis depends on how amenable your cat is to receiving treatments, and if you are able to get him to the vet on a regular basis for follow up blood testing and treatments.

I was able to locate this article (Nitsche, E.K., Erythrocytosis in Dogs and Cats: Diagnosis and Management, Compendium February 2004), which seems to have some good information, though it is 11 years old.
Best wishes,
Dr.Nancy Dreschel

Thank you Dr. Dreschel. Pills are not a big deal for him, but he is not a fan of sub-cutaneous fluids! I have done sub-cu fluids for other cats and it wasn't too bad. With him, it takes one to hold him and the other to hold the IV needle and control the flow. He seems to be dealing with the Hydroxyurea fairly well. He has been on it a week.

Thanks again.

You're welcome. I don't think sub-Q fluids are real comfortable... Giving him something really good to eat while he's getting them may help improve the experience and positively reinforce him sitting still for the process.
Best wishes,

I am sure they are not! I do warm the solution and we sweet talk to him while holding him, but he is not happy. He is the most finicky cat I have ever had! Turns his nose up at tuna, fish, turkey, baby food meats, etc. He only really likes dry food. I tried mixing some of the "wet" with it, thinking that might help...nope. But, hey maybe the smell of something yummy may be enough to distract him!