Your vet has recommended bloodwork for your cat. But why does your cat need bloodwork? Our team of Portland vets explain what can they tell you about your animal companion's health and how often should bloodwork be done.
Why does my cat need bloodwork?
Some cat owners might wonder why their cat needs bloodwork and other tests when it seems healthy. But these tests are important for your cat's well-being. They help us understand your cat's health even when it looks fine. For procedures like dental surgery, blood tests ensure your cat can handle it.
Our experts perform various blood tests at Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital's diagnostic lab. These tests check your cat's health, catch issues like tick diseases or cancer, and track its well-being over time. Bloodwork plays a big role in caring for your cat.
What tests are performed when bloodwork is done?
Many cat owners mistakenly believe that all blood tests yield the same results. However, this is not accurate. It's essential to consult your veterinarian to understand which tests will be conducted and why. Our veterinarians will explain your cat's condition, the necessary diagnostic tests, and the insights we can gain from them using straightforward language.
Two common blood tests in veterinary care are the Complete Blood Count (CBC) and the serum chemistry panel. These tests offer different but complementary information.
The CBC helps us measure your cat's white blood cell count, red blood cell count, and platelet count. Additionally, we can gather data about the size and shape of these cells.
The chemistry panel evaluates organ function, including kidney and liver health, electrolyte levels, and essential enzymes present in the blood. Our in-house vet lab is equipped with advanced tools for accurate diagnoses.
When your cat is unwell or experiencing rapid health changes, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. Our experienced team and cutting-edge equipment allow us to assess your cat's health and offer treatment options promptly.
What will my vet learn from bloodwork for cats?
What insights we're able to gain into your cat's health depend on the type of bloodwork ordered. For example, we can order a variety of CBC and chemistry panels that can bring us different data depending on what we need to measure and what we are hoping to learn about your cat's health.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Different types of white blood cells have unique responses to threats faced by the immune system. A test called a CBC (Complete Blood Count) helps vets check the total white blood cell count and the count of each type in your cat's blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body's tissues. A CBC also measures the red blood cell count and their ability to carry oxygen using a protein called hemoglobin.
Platelets are responsible for blood clotting. If your cat doesn't have enough platelets, their blood might not clot properly, causing abnormal or excessive bleeding. A CBC counts the platelets in your cat's blood.
For instance, a regular CBC provides numbers for cell counts from a diagnostic machine. A clinical pathologist examines a CBC with pathology review under a microscope to confirm accurate counts and identify abnormal cells. This can indicate various health issues like leukemia, infections, anemia, poisoning, parasites, or other serious problems.
Blood tests are done before surgery because a CBC can find low platelet levels. Platelets are vital to prevent excessive bleeding, so they need to be at certain levels. Low platelets might also signal severe infections or life-threatening diseases, like tick-borne illnesses.
Blood Chemistry Profile
A blood test can tell us a lot about your cat's health. By analyzing the compounds in your cat's blood, we can gather insights into its well-being. This test helps us assess the functioning of your cat's kidneys and spot any issues.
Furthermore, we can identify potential problems with the kidneys, dehydration, or blockages. The liver also plays a crucial role in your cat's health. Abnormal chemical values in the liver could indicate diseases or issues with other organs. This test can also highlight unusual electrolyte levels linked to conditions like seizures or gastrointestinal problems.
Blood protein levels are vital too. Some proteins aid the immune system and blood clotting. A blood test provides information about overall protein levels, albumin, and globulin.
While blood tests offer valuable information, they can't definitively diagnose cancer or its spread. On the other hand, complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panels can confirm how your cat responds to treatment and spot complications like anemia or kidney problems. Detecting these issues prevents complications such as blood loss, weakness, or organ failure.
How often should my cat's blood be tested?
Now that you understand some of the most common blood tests and what they can tell us about your cat's health, you're probably wondering how often your cat should have this done as part of their health check-up.
Unlike humans, our furry friends have shorter lifespans. For your healthy cats, yearly bloodwork check-ups are advised. For older cats, it's usually best to have tests twice a year. If your cat needs anesthesia, make sure bloodwork was done recently (within a month). Sick cats or those with health problems might need bloodwork more often – monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly – depending on how serious the issue is.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding cats. For an accurate diagnosis of your cat's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.