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What Lab Tests Can Tell You About Your Cat's Health

In this post, our South Charlotte vets explain the different lab tests we perform on cats and what you can learn from them about your cat’s health. 

What are common lab tests?

You know that your cat’s routine exams are critical to their health, but what do those lab tests actually tell your vet? And what kinds of information can you learn about your cat’s health from routine screening?

At Sharon Lakes Animal Hospital, we approach treatment with a prevention-first mindset. When we examine your pet, we complete a thorough nose-to-tail physical checkup on their health, including internal checks for blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, and blood pressure.

We also perform any tests they may require (such as routine blood and urine testing) in our in-house laboratory, which allows us to get results quickly so we can diagnose symptoms and begin treatment as soon as possible.

A basic blood screen will likely include a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry profile. Your veterinarian may also recommend testing for feline AIDS, feline leukemia and thyroid hormone levels. Here’s a description of what each can reveal:

Complete Blood Count

This test counts your cat’s red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells. Each type of white blood cell reacts in a specific way to any threat the immune system may face.

With a CBC, the vet will analyze not only the total number of white blood cells, 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 to the body’s many tissues. A CBC counts how many RBCs are in your cat’s blood and measures how well they transport oxygen based on levels of hemoglobin (the protein which carries the oxygen) in the blood.

Platelets assist with blood clotting. Without enough of these, insufficient clotting may occur and your cat may bleed excessively or abnormally. A CBC will count how many platelets are in your cat’s blood.

Blood Chemistry Profile

The blood chemistry profile takes inventory of the many compounds present in your cat’s blood stream. This test can tell you how well your cat’s kidneys are working, whether there are any abnormalities in the renal systems, and if your kitty is experiencing any dehydrations or obstructions.

The liver is another organ that’s vital to your cat’s health. If there are elevated values of chemicals that could indicate liver disease or abnormalities in other organs, they will be revealed here.

Abnormal electrolyte levels will also appear on this test. These can be related to conditions and illnesses such as gastrointestinal disease, seizures and others.

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 find out whether your cat may have hyperthyroidism. This common disease usually impacts middle-aged and senior cats and can result in elevated levels of the thyroid hormone in his bloodstream.

Feline AIDS and Feline Leukemia Testing

Your vet may also test your kitty for feline leukemia and feline AIDS, if she has not been tested previously, if she is at high risk for exposure or if she is sick. This test can also be administered if your cat has been exposed to another cat with one of these viruses. Though retroviruses cause both of these, they are different from one another.

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

Urine Test

For a urine test, you’ll have to do some dirty work yourself and bring in a sample of your pet’s urine to your cat’s regular checkup appointment. But the results are critically important, as this test can detect potentially life-threatening diseases and conditions such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones, incontinence, kidney disease, cushing’s syndrome, diabetes and liver disease.

These tests may reveal results that allow your vet to detect conditions early. As a result, your pet may be able to live a happier, healthier and longer life if these conditions can be diagnosed and treated before they develop into larger issues. Your vet can also provide advice on general health and nutrition, in addition to taking steps to prevent illnesses and diseases.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets.

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