The Importance of Lab Work for Cats


When will a Veterinarian order Blood Tests for Cats?

The following situations can result in the need for blood tests for cats:

  • To establish healthy baseline tests
  • To check for any congenital abnormalities or potential concerns
  • To help identify conditions the examination portion of a physical cannot
  • For cats that are not displaying any overt signs of illness, disease, or injury, but are acting abnormal
  • To determine the general health of the liver and kidneys, which helps a veterinarian select the safest form of anesthesia
  • To help determine the surgical risk level in infirmed, elderly, or injured patients
  • For mature, senior, and geriatric cats as part of their periodic wellness exams

Blood tests for cats are processed and analyzed on premises at our in-house laboratory. Having an on-site laboratory allows us to quickly and reliably determine and diagnose a health concern, and then implement a successful medical intervention based on the results.

Types of Blood Work for Cats

  • Feline Leukemia - Feline Immunodeficiency Virus: This is a common test for kittens and cats, especially those coming from unknown origins. These viruses are interspecies contagious and life threatening, so we recommend feline blood work to test for both if you adopt, find, or take in a new kitten or cat
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): We analyze to assess features of the blood, including red and white cell count, immunity status, and the measure of hemoglobin, which is the actual substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen. We also examine hydration status, anemia, infection, blood clotting ability, and immune system response. A CBC is essential for cats that have symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums or loss of appetite, and can also detect bleeding disorders or other unseen abnormalities as part of a pre-surgery risk assessment
  • Blood Serum Chemistry: We analyze to evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels, and more. These tests are important to evaluating the health of older cats, cats with signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or toxin exposure, as well as cats receiving long-term medications and general health before anesthesia
  • Total Thyroid Level: We analyze for hyperthyroidism, as well as the reverse condition, euthyroidism, or a low thyroid function that can indicate disease in a cat’s body

Additionally, our in-house laboratory can process and analyze:

  • Urinalysis
  • Stool Samples
  • Cytology

Understanding your Cat's Blood Work

After we process and analyze a cat blood work sample, the next step is to help our patient's human caretaker fully understand any abnormal results.

Your cat's blood work allows our veterinarians to evaluate the following:

  • Albumin (ALB): This is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage, and intestinal, liver, and kidney disease
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALKP): Elevations in this test may indicate liver damage, Cushing’s disease, or active bone growth in a young cat
  • Alanine aminotansferase (ALT): This test may determine active liver damage, but does not indicate the cause
  • Amylase (AMYL): Elevations in this test indicate pancreatitis or kidney disease
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST): Increases in this test may indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damage
  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): This test determines kidney function. An increased level is called azotemia, and can be caused by kidney, liver, and heart disease, as well as urethral obstruction, shock, or dehydration
  • Calcium (Ca): Changes in the normal level of this test can indicate a variety of diseases. Tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, and low albumin are just a few of the conditions that alter serum calcium
  • Cholesterol (CHOL): This test is used to supplement diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus
  • Chloride (Cl): Chloride is an electrolyte that is typically lost with symptoms like vomiting or illnesses such as Addison’s disease. Elevations often indicate dehydration
  • Coristol (CORT): Cortisol is a hormone that is measured in tests for Cushing’s disease (the low-dose dexamethasone suppression test) and Addison’s disease (ACTH stimulation test)
  • Creatinine (CREA): This test reveals kidney function and helps distinguish between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN
  • Gamma Glutamy transferase (GGT): This is an enzyme that indicates liver disease or corticosteroid excess
  • Globulin (GLOB): This is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states
  • Glucose (GLU): Glucose is a blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus. Low levels can cause collapse, seizures, or coma
  • Potassium (K): This is an electrolyte typically lost with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison’s disease, dehydration, or urethral obstruction.  High levels can lead to cardiac arrest
  • Lipase (LIP): Lipase is an enzyme that may indicate pancreatitis
  • Sodium (Na): Sodium is an electrolyte often lost with signs vomiting, diarrhea, kidney disease, and Addison’s disease. This test helps indicate hydration status
  • Phosphorus (PHOS): Elevations in this test are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and bleeding disorders
  • Total bilirubin (TBIL): Elevations in this test may indicate liver or hemolytic disease. This test helps identify bile duct problems and certain types of anemia
  • Total protein: This test indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys, and infectious diseases
  • Thyroxine (T4): Thyroxine is a thyroid hormone. High levels indicate hyperthyroidism in cats

Blood work is an essential component in the diagnosis of disease in cats. Like any diagnostic tool, blood tests for cats are more effective when used as part of a diagnostic plan, which may include other tests.

Schedule your Cat for Lab Work today!

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