Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD) is an inherited condition that is a defect in the gene that codes for the enzyme pyruvate kinase which plays a vital role in the metabolic process. This restricts the cat’s red blood cells from releasing energy and the cells die prematurely, reducing the number of circulating red blood cells which results in anaemia and a reduced ability to carry oxygen to tissues and organs in the body.
The most common symptoms of PKD are lethargy, diarrhoea, pale mucous membranes, lack of appetite, weight loss and jaundice.
Unfortunately, there is no curative treatment for the condition but blood transfusions may be required in an emergency. Surgery to remove the spleen could also be considered but that procedure does carry the risk of death.
Affected cats can show signs of PKD as early as one month old and usually before 3 years of age, but the severity of clinical signs will vary from case to case.
Although it is a relatively rare disease, it is more common in the Abyssinian breed and can be found in both male and female cats. It is an inherited condition which means affected cats should not be bred.