Blood tests for cats are a valuable tool in most veterinary clinics. Our Ruckersville vets explain why blood tests for cats are important and what each test result might mean.
Blood Test For Cats
When your veterinarian suggests blood work for your cat, you may not be sure what they are looking for. Even the most experienced pet owners can be terrified of not knowing why their cat needs a medical procedure and what the results mean.
Below are some of the common blood tests done on cats and what they tell the veterinarian.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A CBC measures and examines a cat's blood cells. It gives the veterinarian a wealth of information. Some of these include:
- Red blood cell (RBC) counts, proportions, and health - RBCs carry oxygen, iron, and other nutrients around the body.
- White blood cell (WBC) counts, proportions, and health - WBCs help fight inflammation, infection, cancer cells, and parasitic intruders.
- Platelet counts and health - Platelets control blood clotting.
A CBC can tell a veterinarian if a cat is anemic, dehydrated, fighting off inflammation or an infection, and whether your cat has internal bleeding.
BUN & Creatinine
BUN and creatinine are two blood chemistries that are routinely measured as part of larger blood panels. A high BUN level may indicate dehydration, kidney dysfunction, or a liver problem.
Creatinine levels are more related to kidney function. High levels indicate the cat's kidneys are having a hard time clearing the creatinine from the body. Thus, kidney disease may be developing.
Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) & Bilirubin
Blood chemistries, such as ALT and bilirubin, are frequently found in routine blood panels. They mostly assess liver health, and if they are abnormally high, it usually indicates liver dysfunction.
Glucose, or blood sugar, is usually tested to see if a cat has diabetes. If they do, the glucose level will be quite high. Low blood sugar can also provide a veterinarian with important information about a cat's overall health.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) & Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
FeLV and FIV are routinely tested in kittens and at regular times in adulthood. These viruses are life-threatening and cannot be cured once your cat is infected. So, it's critical to monitor your cat's status if you suspect them.
T4 levels in cats are monitored as they age. A high T4 level can indicate hyperthyroidism, a common condition in cats. High thyroid levels in cats can cause various symptoms, such as increased appetite, weight loss, eating non-food items, wanting more human food, and increased vomiting.
Electrolytes, which include potassium, sodium, and chloride, can tell a veterinarian much about a cat's health. This can include hydration levels and organ function, particularly the kidneys. Electrolyte imbalances in cats can manifest various symptoms, including heart arrhythmias and muscle weakness.
Why Your Vet Might Suggest Blood Work
There are many reasons your vet might suggest bloodwork for your cat. Here are the most common reasons:
It's your cat's first exam - We recommend blood work at the time of your cat's first exam because it helps us establish baseline health, check for any congenital abnormalities or potential concerns, and help us form an individual wellness plan for your cat.
During semi-annual and annual wellness exams - Cat blood tests are recommended for all life stages, from kittens to geriatric cats, as part of their routine wellness checkups. These are extremely beneficial for senior patients. Our veterinarians often see cats' health and happiness return to normal when blood tests catch illness early. Cat blood work, along with other tests like urinalysis, can help identify conditions the examination portion of a physical cannot.
If a cat seems sick - Cat blood tests are suitable for cats that are not displaying any overt signs of illness, disease, or injury, but are acting abnormally.
Before surgery - Cat blood work is used to determine the general health of the liver, kidneys, and other organs, which helps a veterinarian select the safest form of anesthesia. Blood work can also help determine the surgical risk level in all cats, especially elderly or injured patients.
What Can Be Learned From Your Cats Blood Test
The results of feline blood tests are essential to helping veterinarians diagnose and treat medical conditions both within the blood itself, as well as in organs such as the kidney and liver. During a blood test for cats, various chemicals in the bloodstream are analyzed. Some examples are:
- Cat blood tests can indicate a deficiency in albumin levels, which indicates a possible liver issue because albumin is produced in the liver, or intestinal or kidney issues as albumin can be lost if these are diseased.
- Blood tests for cats can detect abnormal hormonal-chemical responses to environmental and internal stimuli, which indicates a potential issue with the patient's endocrine system.
Once we've established a link, we can order any additional blood work or procedures needed to diagnose and treat the condition. In this way, blood tests are extremely valuable tools in a veterinarian's arsenal for detecting, identifying, diagnosing, treating, and preventing illnesses.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.