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Understanding Blood Tests for Cats

Blood tests are a valuable tool in veterinary clinics for diagnosing and monitoring cats. Today, our vets discuss the importance of understanding the importance and results of blood tests in cats.

Blood Testing for Your Cat

If your veterinarian recommends blood work for your cat, you may not be aware of what they are searching for. Being uncertain about why your cat needs a medical procedure and what the results imply can be quite daunting, even for experienced pet owners. Here is some information about the typical blood tests performed on cats and what they reveal to the veterinarian.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

A CBC measures and examines a cat's blood cells. It gives the veterinarian a wealth of information. Some of these include:

  • Red blood cell (RBC) counts, proportions, and health - RBCs carry oxygen, iron, and other nutrients around the body.
  • White blood cell (WBC) counts, proportions, and health - WBCs help fight inflammation, infection, cancer cells, and parasitic intruders.
  • Platelet counts and health - Platelets control blood clotting.

A CBC can tell a veterinarian if a cat is anemic, dehydrated, fighting off inflammation or an infection, and whether your cat has internal bleeding.

BUN & Creatinine

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine are two blood tests that are frequently included in broad blood panels. A high BUN level can suggest dehydration, liver, or kidney dysfunction. On the other hand, creatinine levels are more closely linked to kidney function. If the creatinine levels are high, it may indicate that the cat's kidneys are having difficulty clearing out creatinine from the body and may be developing kidney disease.

Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) & Bilirubin

ALT and bilirubin are blood tests that can indicate liver dysfunction when levels are high.


Glucose, or blood sugar, is mostly tested to determine whether a cat has diabetes mellitus, during which the glucose result will be quite high. Low blood sugar can also give a veterinarian valuable information about a cat's overall health.

    Feline Leukemia Virus (FELV) & Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

    FELV and FIV testing is crucial for cats as these viruses are life-threatening and incurable. Testing should be done routinely for kittens and throughout adulthood to keep track of their status.

      Thyroxine (T4)

      As cats age, it's common to monitor their T4 levels. Elevated T4 levels can indicate the development of hyperthyroidism, a condition often diagnosed in cats. High levels of thyroid hormones can cause several symptoms in cats, such as increased appetite, weight loss, eating of non-food items or wanting more human food, and frequent vomiting.


      The levels of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and chloride in a cat's body can provide valuable insights into its overall health. These levels can reveal information about hydration levels and organ function, particularly the kidneys. Electrolyte imbalances can lead to several symptoms of illness in cats, including muscle weakness and heart arrhythmias. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain proper electrolyte balance in cats to ensure their optimal health.

      Why Your Vet Might Suggest Blood Work

      There are many reasons your vet might suggest bloodwork for your cat. Here are the most common reasons:

      It's your cat's first exam - We recommend blood work at the time of your cat's first exam because it helps us establish baseline health, check for any congenital abnormalities or potential concerns, and help us form an individual wellness plan for your cat.

      During semi-annual and annual wellness exams - Cat blood tests are usually recommended for all life stages from kittens to geriatric cats as part of their routine wellness checkups. These are extremely beneficial in our mature patients, as we often see cats' health and happiness return to normal when blood tests catch illness early. Cat bloodwork, along with other bodily fluids like urine, can help identify conditions the examination portion of a physical cannot.

      If a cat seems sick - Cat blood tests are beneficial for cats exhibiting abnormal behavior despite not showing obvious signs of illness, disease, or injury.

      Before surgery - Cat blood work is used to determine the general health of the liver, kidneys, and other organs, which helps a veterinarian select the safest form of anesthesia. Bloodwork can also help determine the surgical risk level in all cats, especially elderly or injured patients.

      What Can Be Learned From Your Cat's Blood Test

      The results of feline blood tests are essential to helping veterinarians diagnose and treat medical conditions both within the blood itself, as well as in organs such as the kidney and liver. During a blood test for cats, various chemicals in the bloodstream are analyzed. Some examples are:

      • Cat blood tests can indicate a deficiency in albumin levels, which indicates a possible liver issue because albumin is produced in the liver, or intestinal or kidney issues as albumin can be lost if these are diseased.
      • Blood tests for cats can detect abnormal hormonal-chemical responses to environmental and internal stimuli, which indicates a potential issue with the patient's endocrine system.

      After identifying a correlation, we can conduct further feline blood tests or procedures to diagnose and treat the condition effectively. Feline blood tests are essential tools in a veterinarian's arsenal that help to detect, identify, diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or disease in cats.

      Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

      Is your cat showing signs of a veterinary emergency? Contact our Douglasville vets immediately for prompt assistance.

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