If your cat has recently gotten a blood test, you’re probably worried about the possible results. While your vet will go over the results with you, being able to understand them at least a bit can offer peace of mind.
Whenever your feline gets sick, it isn’t odd for your vet to request a blood test. This workup can tell your vet a great deal about your cat and rule out many different diseases. If something seems off, it can be the first step to a diagnosis.
When Do Cats Need Bloodwork?
Several occurrences may lead to your vet ordering bloodwork. Anytime your cat seems sick without an apparent cause, your vet is likely to order a test. Blood tests look at many different parameters simultaneously, enabling your vet to rule out and confirm various conditions with one sample. Some vets may also order bloodwork when your cat first becomes a patient. Even if your cat is completely fine, this provides a vital baseline for your feline. When they get sick later, your vet will know what their blood results usually look like for comparison.
Routine blood tests can also check for underlying conditions that may otherwise go unnoticed. For this reason, your vet may order annual blood tests every time you see them. Older cats are more likely to need bloodwork, as age often leads to the development of certain diseases.
If your feline is undergoing surgery, a blood test may be required to determine the functioning of the organs before the surgery can be performed. This bloodwork is for precaution only and is used to determine surgical risk.
Most veterinarians have in-house laboratories that allow them to quickly read bloodwork. Most basic bloodwork is done in-house.
Types of Cat Bloodwork
Several different blood tests may be ordered. Not all are the same, so they cannot all be read the same way. Sometimes, your cat may get a simple positive/negative result. Other times, the test may check for many different parameters.
Here is a list of the most common blood tests for felines:
- Feline Leukemia: Most cats are tested for this condition anytime they visit the vet for the first time, especially if they have unknown origins. This virus is extremely contagious, can jump between species, and is life-threatening. Therefore, it is always best to have a diagnosis early. This test is a simple positive/negative. Either the cat has feline leukemia or they don’t.
- Blood Serum: This test involves analyzing the cat’s serum specifically, which enables your vet to evaluate organ function and hormone levels. Often, this test will be performed routinely with older cats to check on their organ function and overall health. They may also be used to diagnose certain conditions.
- Total Thyroid Level: If the cat is thought to have hyperthyroidism, this test checks for elevated or diminished thyroid hormones.
- Complete Blood Count (CBC): If you receive a paper with multiple metrics on it, it is likely that your cat got a CBC. This sort of test checks for many different things in your cat’s blood. If your vet can’t figure out what is wrong with your cat, they’ll likely order this blood test as a next step. The CBC examines your cat’s blood cell components, checking for various parameters in your cat’s red formula. It is often used to determine illnesses, such as anemia, and hydration status. By analyzing your cat’s white blood cell population, the vet can also determine if there is an active infection or an issue with the immune system. The CBC provides your vet with a great deal of valuable information.
How Vets Read Blood Tests
If your cat received a CBC, there are many different metrics being tested. During this blood test, multiple parameters and chemicals in the blood are analyzed. Their results can either be normal or abnormal. Abnormal doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong, since environmental conditions can artificially change blood levels.
Here is what most blood tests look at:
Anytime your cat gets bloodwork, it can be a bit stressful. However, bloodwork is one of the best ways to determine the cat’s illness and any underlying problems. If it isn’t obvious what is wrong with your feline through a physical examination, your vet will likely order a blood test. Remember, cats cannot describe what they feel, so the information that a blood test provides is incredibly valuable for the vet.
However, blood tests don’t necessarily always lead to a diagnosis. Multiple metrics can indicate different things, so it’s up to your vet to figure out what the tests indicate about your cat’s body and health.