Bloodwork is often the very next step after a physical examination in diagnosing ailments in cats. Here at the Cat Care Clinic, we have an in-house diagnostic lab where we are able to run most tests and obtain results in less than an hour. We work closely with several outside labs in the event that a cat may require a test we are unable to perform in our facility. Results of these tests are most often available the very next day.
Blood work is also strongly recommended for any cat, regardless of age, who is undergoing a sedated procedure to ensure that the anesthesia will be filtered properly out of the cat’s system. For more information, see the section below on Understanding Your Cat’s Bloodwork.
The Cat Care Clinic of Asheville has a fully comprehensive, in-house radiograph service that provides patients and clients with express x-rays to assist in patient diagnostics.
X-rays, more formally known as radiographs, provide doctors with a 2-D view of your cat. We take a lateral (side) view and a ventral-dorsal view (on back).
Most of the time, we can take the x-ray without sedation but occasionally we will need to briefly anesthetize the cat to get a good picture.
Ultrasound & Advanced Imaging
Survey radiographs may be only the first step using imaging to make a diagnosis; often we need a better look and will recommend ultrasound to get more of a 3-D view. We schedule Dr. McCormick at Davidson River Ultrasound in our clinic to perform ultrasounds. In most cases, no sedation or anesthesia will be necessary because Dr. McCormick’s gentle touch! We will need to shave your kitty’s stomach.
In some cases, we will need to do more advanced imaging to find out what is going on. We use several highly qualified specialty clinics to do cardiac echocardiograms, MRIs, and CT scans. We also refer to these specialists to perform endoscopic exams when called for.
Pathology & Cytology
Understanding Your Cat’s Bloodwork
Blood tests help doctors determine causes of Illness accurately, safely, and quickly and let us monitor the progress of medical treatments. To help you understand your pet’s test results, this guide explains common tests. If you have questions, ask any staff member. We want you to understand our recommendations and be a partner in your pet’s care.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
This is the most common blood test performed on pets and people. A CBC gives information on hydration status, anemia, infection, the blood’s clotting ability, and the ability of the immune system to respond. This test is essential for pets with fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums, or loss of appetite. If your pet needs surgery, a CBC can detect bleeding disorders or other unseen abnormalities. These are the results we get from a CBC:
HCT (hematocrit) measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect anemia and dehydration.
Hb and MCHC (hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) are the oxygen-carrying pigments of red blood cells.
WBC (white blood cell count) measures the body’s immune cells. Increases or decreases indicate certain diseases or infections.
GRANS and L/M (granulocytes and lymphocytes/monocytes) are specific types of white blood cells.
EOS (eosinophils) are a specific type of white blood cells that may Indicate allergic or parasitic conditions.
PLT (platelet count) measures cells that form blood clots.
RETICS (reticulocytes) are immature red blood cells. High levels indicate regenerative anemia.
FIBR (fibrinogen) is an important clotting factor.
These common blood serum tests evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels, and more. They are important in evaluating older pets, pets with vomiting and diarrhea or toxin exposure, pets receiving long-term medications, and health before anesthesia.
ALB (albumin) Is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage, and intestinal, liver, and kidney disease.
ALKP (alkaline phosphatase) elevations may indicate liver damage, Cushing’s disease, and active bone growth in young pets.
ALT (alanine aminotransferase) is a sensitive indicator of active liver damage but doesn’t indicate the cause.
AMYL (amylase) elevations show pancreatitis or kidney disease.
AST (aspartate aminotransferase) increases may indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damage.
BUN (blood urea nitrogen) indicates kidney function. An increased blood level is called azotemia and can be caused by kidney, liver, and heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock, and dehydration.
Ca (calcium) deviations can indicate a variety of diseases. Tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, and low albumin are just a few of the conditions that alter serum calcium.
CHOL (cholesterol) is used to supplement diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus.
CI (chloride) is an electrolyte often lost with vomiting and Addison’s disease. Elevations often indicate dehydration.
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).
CREA (creatinine) reveals kidney function. This test helps distinguish between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN.
GGT (gamma glutamyl transferase) is an enzyme that indicates liver disease or corticosteroid excess.
GLOB (globulin) is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states.
GLU (glucose) Is a blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate stress and/or diabetes mellitus. Low levels can cause collapse, seizures, or coma.
K (potassium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney fail¬ure, Addison’s disease, dehydration, and urethral obstruction. High levels can lead to cardiac arrest.
LIP (lipase) is an enzyme that may indicate pancreatitis.
Na (sodium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney and Addison’s disease. This test helps indicate hydration status.
PHOS (phosphorus) elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and bleeding disorders. Elevated PHOS can make your cat nauseous and is a major cause of inappetence in cats in renal failure. These cats should be on a low-phosphorus diet.
TBIL (total bilirubin) elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic disease. This test helps identify bile duct problems and certain types of anemia.
TP (total protein) indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys, and infectious diseases.
T4 (thyroxine) is a thyroid hormone. Elevated levels indicate hyperthyroidism in cats.