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Understanding Blood Tests for Cats

Why is it so important for cats to have bloodwork done regularly, and what can these lab tests reveal about their health? Our Wisconsin Dells vets answer some common questions today.  

Why do cats need blood tests?

Keeping your cat in good health and preventing disease is important to you, and you understand that regular check-ups help ensure your feline friend lives a long, happy life. 

But have you ever wondered what your veterinarian can glean from lab tests during these routine visits? 

At Dells Animal Hospital, we prioritize prevention and thoroughly examine your pet from nose to tail. We perform internal checks for blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, and blood pressure, in addition to any necessary tests such as blood and urine screenings. 

In our in-house laboratory, we're able to use state-of-the-art diagnostic tests and tools to diagnose symptoms and start treatment promptly. A typical blood test will include a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry profile. Your veterinarian may also recommend testing for thyroid hormone levels, feline AIDS, and feline leukemia. 

Each of these tests will yield valuable insights into your cat's health. 

Complete Blood Count

This test measures your cat's red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. Each specific type of white blood cell reacts uniquely to any potential threats encountered by the immune system. 

White blood cells help fight inflammation, cancer cells, parasitic intruders, and infection. 

A CBC will reveal not only the total number of white blood cells in your cat's body, but also how many of each individual type of white blood cell are in your cat's blood sample. 

Red blood cells (RBCs) move oxygen and iron throughout the body. A CBC counts how many RBCs are in your cat's blood and measures how well they move oxygen based on hemoglobin levels (the protein that carries the oxygen) in the blood. 

Platelets play a crucial role in blood clotting. A shortage of platelets can lead to inadequate clotting, resulting in excessive or abnormal bleeding in your cat. A CBC test can determine the platelet count in your cat's blood. 

This test can reveal whether a cat is dehydrated, anemic, fighting off infection or inflammation, or whether there is internal bleeding.

BUN & Creatinine 

These two blood chemistries are routinely measured as part of blood panels. A high BUN level can point to dehydration, a problem with your cat's liver, or kidney dysfunction. 

Creatinine levels are more strictly related to kidney function. High creatinine levels are a clue that your cat's kidneys are having difficulty eliminating creatinine from the body, and that kidney disease may be developing. 

Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) & Bilirubin 

Routine blood panels also frequently feature blood chemistries such as ALT and bilirubin, which are mostly indicative of how healthy the liver is. If they are abnormally high, this can indicate dysfunction in the liver. 

Electrolytes 

Electrolyte levels, including chloride, potassium, and sodium, can reveal much about your cat's health, including hydration levels and organ function, especially in the kidneys. Imbalances in electrolytes can trigger a variety of symptoms, including muscle weakness and heart arrhythmias. 

Blood Chemistry Profile 

The blood chemistry profile checks the various compounds in your cat's bloodstream. This test reveals information about the functioning of your cat's kidneys, identifies any abnormalities in the renal systems, and detects dehydration or obstructions in your feline friend's body. 

Your cat's liver is an important organ. If there are elevated values of chemicals that may indicate liver disease or abnormalities in other organs, they will be revealed with this diagnostic test. 

A blood chemistry profile can also reveal abnormal levels of electrolytes in your cat's blood. 

Such levels may be linked to conditions like gastrointestinal disease, seizures, and other illnesses.

Blood protein levels are also critical to your cat's health, as some have a role in the function of the immune system, while others aid in clotting. A blood chemistry profile will tell your vet about total protein levels, globulin levels and albumin levels.

Thyroid Hormone Measurements

Thyroid hormones can be measured to determine whether your cat has hyperthyroidism. This common disease usually impacts middle-aged and senior cats and can result in elevated thyroid hormone levels in their bloodstream.

Feline AIDS and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Testing

If your cat has not been tested before, if she is at a high risk of exposure, or if she is sick, your vet may also test her for feline leukemia and feline AIDS. This test can also be given if your cat has been exposed to another cat carrying either of these viruses. It's important to note that although retroviruses cause both viruses, they are distinct from one another.

Depending on the results your vet receives from these basic blood tests, they may recommend more specialized testing.

Cat Blood Test Results, Explained

The results of blood tests for cats 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. When your cat is having a blood test done, various chemicals in the bloodstream are being 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 cat bloodwork or procedures needed to diagnose and treat the condition. In this way, feline blood tests are extremely valuable tools in a veterinarian's toolbox for detecting, identifying, diagnosing, treating, and ultimately preventing illness or disease.

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.

Is your cat displaying abnormal behavior? A blood test may be required. Contact our Wisconsin Dells vets to schedule an appointment today.

New Patients Welcome

Dells Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Wisconsin Dells companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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