At our hospitals, bloodwork is analyzed based on your cat's condition, the urgency of the testing results and whether specialized tests are required for your cat. We offer:
- In-hospital bloodwork using our suite of laboratory analysis machines. This allows us to urgently determine and diagnose health concerns for more rapid, successful medical intervention based on the results
- Screening lab work
- Analyzing through a specialized reference laboratory
The following situations can result in the need for blood tests for cats:
- On the first veterinary visit: This is recommended to establish healthy baseline tests, and also to check for any congenital abnormalities or potential concerns
- During wellness examinations: Your veterinarian may suggest blood tests as part of a thorough physical examination because cat blood work, along with other bodily fluids like urine, can help identify conditions the examination portion of a physical cannot.
- If a cat seems not quite right: Cat blood tests are indicated for cats who are not displaying any overt signs of illness, disease or injury but are acting abnormally.
- Pre-surgical tests: Cat bloodwork is used to determine the general health of the liver and kidneys and other organs, which helps determine the safest anesthetic protocol.
- During senior wellness exams: Cat blood tests are necessary for mature and senior cats as part of their wellness examinations. Bloodwork often identifies issues invisible outside the cat and early detection saves lives.
Types of Cat Blood Work
Complete Blood Count (CBC): This includes red and white cell count, immunity status, and the measure of hemoglobin, or blood oxygen carrying ability. We examine hydration status, anemia, infection, blood clotting ability, and immune system response. This is essential for cats that have symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums, or loss of appetite. A CBC can also detecct bleeding disorders or other unseen abnormalities as a part of a pre-surgery risk assessment.
Cat Bloodwork Chemistries: We evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels, and for hyperthyroidism, as well as the reverse condition, euthyroidism, or a low thyroid function that can indicate disease in a cat's body. These tests are important for 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.
Feline Leukemia-Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FeLv/FIV): This is a common test for kittens and cats, especially those coming from unknown origins. These viruses are contagious and life-threatening. We test for both if you adopt or take in a new kitten or cat
Additionally, we analyze:
- Stool Samples
What Can Be Learned From Cat Blood Tests
The results of cat blood tests are essential to diagnosing and treating medical conditions both within the blood itself, and in organs such as the kidneys and liver. During a blood test for cats, various chemicals in the bloodstream are analyzed, such as:
- A deficiency in albumin levels, which indicates a possible liver issue
- Abnormal hormonal-chemical responses to environmental and internal stimuli, which indicates a potential issue with the cat's endocrine system
Once we establish a correlation, we can order any subsequent procedures necessary for treating the condition. Blood tests serve as very valuable tools in a veterinarian's toolkit for helping to detect, identify, diagnose illness or disease.
Understanding Your Cat's Bloodwork
After we process and analyze a cat bloodwork 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. This test is especially significant in cats.
- Alanine aminotransferase (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 the 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 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.