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The Importance of Regular Cat Blood Work: What It Reveals About Your Cat’s Health

Cat Blood Work

If you’re asking “is my cat sick?” and there aren’t any clear symptoms, it might be time to consider having cat blood work performed.

 

For as much as we love our cats, it can be hard to feel like we really know them. After all, they may not be the most expressive, especially when it comes to discomfort. 

 

We understand that cat owners often find themselves searching for answers when their feline friends exhibit unexpected symptoms.

 

These symptoms can range from subtle changes in behavior to more noticeable issues like weight loss, lethargy, or changes in appetite. 

 

What you may not realize is that these diverse symptoms could share a common origin, making regular cat blood work a crucial aspect of feline healthcare.

 

To help pull back the curtain on what makes cat blood work so important, we’re pulling from our experience as a feline veterinary clinic to share more about when cat blood work is necessary, what it tests for, and the valuable insights it provides.

When Is Cat Blood Work Necessary?

Understanding the difference between symptoms and the diseases they may indicate is essential. 

 

While some issues are apparent during a routine vet visit, others require a deeper understanding, and cat blood work becomes invaluable. 

 

Here are some instances when cat blood work is crucial:

 

  • Cat’s First Visit to the Vet – This initial blood work helps establish a baseline for your cat’s health, aiding in the early detection of congenital or developmental issues that might not be immediately visible.

  • Wellness Exams – Cat blood work during wellness exams goes beyond the physical examination, allowing your veterinarian to monitor your cat’s internal health. It can unveil subtle changes that may indicate the onset of certain diseases or conditions.

  • Unclear Symptoms – When your cat displays vague or puzzling symptoms, such as intermittent lethargy or changes in behavior, blood work becomes a powerful diagnostic tool. It can reveal underlying issues that might not be evident during a standard examination.

  • Before Surgery – Prior to any surgical procedures, cat blood work is essential to ensure that your cat is in optimal health. This helps identify any potential risks or complications that might arise during or after the surgery.

At What Age Do Cats Need Blood Work?

Cat blood work is not limited to specific age groups. In fact, it’s a useful diagnostic tool throughout a cat’s life. 

 

Here’s how it helps at each stage:

  • Kittens – Blood work in kittens is crucial for detecting congenital issues and establishing a baseline for future comparisons. It allows veterinarians to address potential health concerns early in a cat’s life.

  • Adult Cats – Regular blood work in adult cats is essential for monitoring overall health. It enables the early detection of diseases, providing an opportunity for timely intervention and management.

  • Senior Cats – As cats age, they become more susceptible to certain health conditions. Blood work in senior cats is instrumental in managing age-related issues and ensuring a good quality of life during their golden years.

What Does Cat Blood Work Test For?

Cat blood work encompasses various tests, each providing unique insights into your cat’s health. 

 

Some essential tests include:

  • Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FeLV/FIV) – These tests detect viral infections that can significantly impact your cat’s immune system.

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) – A CBC assesses red and white blood cell counts, providing valuable information about your cat’s immune system and overall health.

  • Blood Serum Chemistry – This test analyzes organ function, checking for signs of liver or kidney disease, and offers a comprehensive view of your cat’s internal health.

  • Hyperthyroidism – Monitoring thyroid hormone levels is crucial, especially in older cats, as hyperthyroidism is a common condition that can impact various organ systems.

The Results From Your Cat’s Blood Work

Beyond diagnosing specific illnesses, cat blood work reveals critical details such as:

 

  • Albumin (ALB) – Essential for assessing hydration, hemorrhage, and detecting intestinal, liver, or kidney diseases.
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALKP) – Indicates liver damage, Cushing’s disease, or active bone growth in young cats with elevated levels.
  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) – Signals active liver damage without specifying the cause.
  • Amylase (AMYL) – Elevated levels may point to pancreatitis or kidney disease.
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) – Increased levels may suggest damage to the liver, heart, or skeletal muscles.
  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) – Assesses kidney function, with increased levels indicating potential issues like kidney, liver, heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock, or dehydration.
  • Calcium (Ca) – Changes in levels may signal various diseases, including tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, and low albumin.
  • Cholesterol (CHOL) – Used to complement the diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus.
  • Chloride (Cl) – An electrolyte typically lost with symptoms like vomiting or illnesses such as Addison’s disease. Elevated levels often indicate dehydration.
  • Cortisol (CORT) – Measured in tests for Cushing’s disease (the low-dose dexamethasone suppression test) and Addison’s disease (ACTH stimulation test).
  • Creatinine (CREA) – Reveals kidney function and aids in distinguishing between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN.
  • Gamma Glutamyl Transferase (GGT) – Indicates liver disease or corticosteroid excess.
  • Globulin (GLOB) – Increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states.
  • Glucose (GLU) – Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus, while low levels can lead to collapse, seizures, or coma.
  • Potassium (K) – 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, potentially leading to cardiac arrest.
  • Lipase (LIP) – May indicate pancreatitis.
  • Sodium (Na) – An electrolyte indicating hydration status, often lost with signs of vomiting, diarrhea, kidney disease, and Addison’s disease.
  • Phosphorus (PHOS) – Elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and bleeding disorders.
  • Total bilirubin (TBIL) – Elevated levels may indicate liver or hemolytic disease, helping identify bile duct problems and certain types of anemia.
  • Total protein – Indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys, and infectious diseases.
  • Thyroxine (T4) – High levels indicate hyperthyroidism in cats.

Learn About Your Cat Blood Work at Catonsville Cat Clinic

Would you like to find out more about getting blood work done for your cat? Regular cat blood work is a proactive step towards a healthier, happier life for your beloved cat.

At Catonsville Cat Clinic, we are dedicated to ensuring the well-being of your feline family members. Contact us today to schedule your cat’s next check-up.

This entry was posted on Friday, December 22nd, 2023 at 5:32 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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