Sonograms are not just for pregnant humans. They're also useful diagnostic tools for cats, pregnant or not. Sonograms and ultrasounds are basically the same thing -- a sonogram is the picture produced, and ultrasound is the technology used. The science itself is known as ultrasonic imaging or sonography.
When to Get One
Sonograms are used when vets need to peek inside Kitty's body. For example, a sonogram can show the shape and size of the liver, kidneys, stomach and heart. The vet can see whether there are cysts or tumors in an organ, or can confirm inflammation or other health problems.
Without an ultrasound, the only way to confirm the presence of a small mass would be exploratory surgery. That's a lot more invasive and more dangerous.
Sonograms During Pregnancy
Sonograms can confirm pregnancy in cats. According to a study in the "Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound" journal, an ultrasound can identify signs of early pregnancy, such as an enlarged uterus, even before the fetuses are visible.
Sonograms also can monitor the pregnancy and make sure the fetuses are developing properly. And a sonogram can show how many kittens are coming -- although there's always a risk of miscalculating the number, especially in early pregnancy.
Ultrasounds are quick, easy and painless. Most vets shave the area to be examined because that makes for a clearer and more accurate image, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Shaving a non-cooperative cat can be tricky. But if your vet manages it, there should be no further sharp things involved in the procedure.
Preparing Kitty for It
If you have a cooperative, mellow Kitty, all you have to do is hold her down while the vet goes to work. However, if Kitty is going crazy, she might need to be sedated before the sonogram. For an abdominal ultrasound, an empty belly is best, so don't feed Kitty for 12 hours before the sonogram.
If the vet is checking the bladder, keep Kitty away from the litter box for at least three hours -- a full bladder shows better in a sonogram. You can do this by placing her in a carrier for those three hours. Cats will "hold it" if they don't have a litter box available.
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