When you take your cat in for his annual wellness check, your vet might recommend a blood chemistry panel. She'll almost certainly want to perform one if your cat's sick. The blood panel test gives the vet important information about the state of Kitty's health and body.
Your vet might request that you don't feed your cat for approximately eight to 12 hours before bringing him in for blood chemistry panel testing. Because eating right before the blood is drawn could alter the blood chemistry, your vet might recommend fasting, including from water, usually overnight.
Complete Blood Count
Along with the blood chemistry panel, your vet will want your cat's complete blood count. Your cat has three types of blood cells in his system -- red, white and platelets. Red blood cells, originating in the bone marrow, carry oxygen from the lungs throughout his body. As these cells age, the liver and spleen remove them. White blood cells include the lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes and basophils. Most of the white blood cells help fight off infections. Platelets aid in clotting. If the amount of any of these cells is above or below average, further investigation is necessary. For example, too few red blood cells can result in anemia, while too many white blood cells indicate infection, depending on the type.
Blood Chemistry Panel
The blood chemistry panel can give your vet information about roughly 25 of your cat's bodily processes. Since your vet might order this test at your cat's annual wellness exam, it helps in establishing a baseline of normal values for comparison in future years or when your cat shows signs of illness. For kidney function, it reveals the organs' filtration rate, fluid balance maintenance and amount of waste-product urea in his bloodstream. It measures the amount of bilirubin in his liver and any changes in his liver enzymes.
Common Chemical Tests
Although not all blood chemistry panel tests are the same, most include certain standard chemical tests. These include glucose, or blood sugar levels, for diabetes testing; thyroid hormone levels, especially important since hyperthyroidism is so common in older felines; calcium and phosphorous; creatinine kinase, as elevated levels indicate muscle damage; cholesterol; sodium, which can indicate hydration problems; and total proteins. Total proteins include albumin, produced in the liver, and globulins. Total protein levels can show whether your cat's immune system is in good working order.
Usually conducted along with a blood chemistry panel, the small amount of urine that your cat probably gave you or the vet a hard time collecting includes lot of information about his kidney's health. The urinalysis could reveal substance that shouldn't appear in the urine, such as blood or white blood cells, sugar or protein. The presence of specific substances indicates problems with certain organs as well as possible infections or complications of your cat's general health.
- American Animal Hospital Association: Laboratory Testing
- Vetstreet: Superchem Blood Test
- Cats Only Veterinary Hospital: Laboratory
- North Shore Veterinary Clinic: Diagnostic Testing - Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Panel
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: What Do Those Lab Tests Mean?
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.