Medical Diagnostics for Cats

Cats are notoriously good at disguising pain and illness; in the wild, they are both predator and prey, and giving any indications that they are not healthy would be like wearing a neon sign that says “EAT ME!” It may be useful in the wild, but their stoicism can make it difficult for us humans to know if and when they need medical attention, and physical exams are limited in what they can tell our doctors about your cat’s health. Fortunately, we have additional diagnostic tools to pick up where physical exams leave off.

Feline Lab Work

cat lab work

Our doctors often recommend routine blood work, especially for our senior (8+ year old) patients.  Cats age much faster than humans do, and blood work is one of the best ways to stay aware of the changes that occur in a cat’s body with age.  Our Complete Wellness Panel is available in-house with same-day results.  With only a small sample of blood and urine, the Complete Wellness Panel gives our doctors a good look at almost everything going on in your cat’s body. The complete blood count (CBC) measures the number and percentages of red and white blood cells, platelets, and hemoglobin in your cat’s blood, which assists in the diagnoses of allergies, infection, and anemia (too few red blood cells). The enzymes, electrolytes, and hormones measured in the Wellness Panel indicate kidney and thyroid function (two of the most common problems for senior cats), as well as measuring liver values and the amounts of calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and glucose (sugar) in the blood. A urine sample tells our doctors how well the kidneys are concentrating urine (an indication of how well they are functioning) and if there are red or white blood cells, bacteria, glucose, or crystals in your cat’s urine.  Most of the diseases discovered and diagnosed by the Complete Wellness Panel can be treated, or at least slowed, with medication and good nutrition.

Feline Ultrasound

ultra sound from Affectionately Cats

This non-invasive machine uses sound waves to penetrate the cat’s skin and give us a real-time image of the internal organs.  With it, our doctors are able to examine, and even measure, your cat’s pancreas, intestines, kidneys, or any tumors or masses they may find.

We also routinely use the ultrasound machine during our Complete Wellness Panel to collect a urine sample.  This process is known as an ultrasound-guided cystocentesis, in which our doctors use the ultrasound as a visual guide to collecting a urine sample directly from the bladder.  This collection method greatly reduces contamination of the sample, allowing our doctors to evaluate urine from the bladder itself before the sample passes through the urethra and into the air, where it is exposed to bacteria and cellular debris that can lead to inaccurate results.

Feline X-Rays

We use radiographs (x-rays) to take images of your cat’s bones and organs.  On an x-ray, the most solid (radiopaque) structures such as large bones show up bright white.  Air and other gasses are black, and the softer tissues that make up organs are usually somewhere in between.  In most cases, we take two x-rays: a lateral (the cat on his side) and a ventral-dorsal (the cat on his back).  This allows our doctors to see the bones and organs in three dimensions and more accurately identify problems such as arthritis, fractures, organ abnormalities, gastrointestinal obstructions, bladder or kidney stones, heart disease, and foreign objects.