Blood work isn't just for ailing felines, healthy ones should have it done too. Routine blood tests aren't required by law and many cats stay healthy without them, but there are also plenty of good reasons to have annual blood work done on your cat. It could save his life.
Types of Tests
There are dozens of tests your vet can run on your cat's blood sample, but not all of them need to be done every year. The main routine tests are complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry. The CBC test shows the concentrations of different types of cells, including red and white blood cells, that are circulating in your kitty's veins. Your vet uses the blood chemistry test to determine the concentrations of vital nutrients and hormones floating around your cat's system. These two tests give your vet a good look at what's going on inside your cat's body.
Routine Testing Frequency
Blood chemistry and CBC tests cover a lot of ground, but they do have limitations. Both tests are appropriate for annual blood work, but there are a few additional key tests that your cat should have every few years. Your kitty should get the liver-kidney-blood sugar panel, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) tests every 3 or 4 years, according to Larkfield Veterinary Hospital. It's not a big deal if you miss a year of routine blood work on a healthy, young cat. However, older felines over 7 should definitely have it done annually. You may need to take your older cat in twice a year if he's on medication or has a chronic health problem.
Even if you already forced your cat into a carrier for his annual vet visit this year, he may need blood work again if he's sick or going in for surgery. Blood tests are a way for vets to narrow down the field of suspects when diagnosing your cat. Tests reveal the presence of certain diseases and reveal some internal dysfunctions, like hyperthyroidism, according to the Winn Feline Foundation. If your pet needs to be anesthetized for surgery, it's a good idea to have a blood test done ahead of time to make sure he won't have a negative reaction to the chemical.
Prevention is preferable to treatment. After all, who wants their furry friend to suffer from an avoidable malady? Annual blood work indicates potential threat to your cat's health before they become real problems. The early warning makes a difference and could save your cat a lot of discomfort. If you feed your cat homemade or non-standard cat food, then the blood chemistry tests ensures that your pet is getting all the nutrients and minerals she needs.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.