Full In-House Diagnostic Testing
At The Cat Doctor of Monroe, we have a complete on site laboratory to provide the fastest possible results for your little friend which lets us recognize and treat disease and illness early. Diagnostic and screening lab tests play an important role in keeping your cat healthy and discovering signs of disease. Early detection and early intervention often leads to a longer, healthier life! Our on site laboratory provides for serum chemistry, hematology, serology, urinalysis, bacterial and fungal culture, and parasite testing. We also utilize commercial veterinary laboratories for specialized diagnostics and consultations.
Our feline friends cannot (or do not) tell us when they are unwell. We often use blood and urine tests along with a detailed history and comprehensive physical examination to help us determine if there is a problem internally. In some respects, the blood and urine tests are helping our patients “speak to us”. In our experience, our patients typically “look sick” during advanced stages of disease and appear “sick” suddenly despite the fact that disease has been present for weeks to months. Remember, cats are small and had many predators in the wild. If they exhibited signs of illness or weakness, they would fall victim to predators. What does this mean? This inherent instinct of cats translates into cats showing they are unwell only during advanced stages of disease when they cannot “hide” disease anymore. By hiding the fact that they are unwell, they avoid detection by predators.
To help counteract this inherent nature of the cat, we recommend annual blood and urine screens for most cats, and more frequently in our geriatric friends. This concept is called Patient Trending. Patient trending allows us to establish normal values for your individual cat while they are young and healthy. By comparing the results year after year, we are able to detect changes early. Not only are we able to detect changes when values fall outside the normal reference range, we are able to spot and monitor changes within the reference range. If your cat’s kidney values begin to increase but are still within the reference range, we have an opportunity to begin treatment early and monitor the trends more closely. Patient Trending can be a powerful tool to detect and treat disease early. Again, the main goal is to ensure our patients lead healthier, longer lives.
We recommend a fecal analysis twice yearly for our patients. Why? Your pet may be harboring parasites and you may not know it (even indoor only cats). A number of these parasites are zoonotic or can be transferred to humans. Young children, the elderly or immunocompromised individuals are at greatest risk from a zoonotic parasite you cat may have. Parasites that we screen for include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, Toxoplasma, giardia, coccida, and Cryptosporidium.
Patients who present with signs of diarrhea often need special tests of their stool to further evaluate for the cause of diarrhea. We perform a special microscopic examination of the stool to evaluate for abnormal bacteria and protozoa in the sample. Performing this test in house often allows us to begin treatment the same day as your appointment.
Check out these links for more information about parasites that can affect us:
Feline leukemia (FeLV) & feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are major causes of illness and death in cats. Our hospital strictly follows the American Associations of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Retroviral Testing Guidelines. All kittens (and cats) should be tested at least twice in their lifetime 2-3 months apart. All unwell patients need to be tested, even if done previously, as the viruses may “hide” within the body and “come out” at a later date.
The clinical signs of heartworm infection in cats can be very non-specific, and may mimic many other feline diseases. Some signs of potential heartworm infection include vomiting intermittently (food or foam, usually unrelated to eating), tiredness, lack of appetite, weight loss, coughing, asthma-like signs (intermittent difficulty in breathing, panting, open-mouthed breathing), gagging, difficulty breathing or rapid breathing. We can test your cat for heartworm disease in our hospital to determine if this may be the cause of their signs. In some cases, blood needs to be sent to the outside laboratory for further evaluation.
These routine blood tests evaluate a number of internal organs and secondary changes when disease is present. Chemistry panels provide the following important information:
- Kidney evaluation – Two waste products in the blood, creatinine and BUN (urea), give us a sense if your cat’s kidneys are functioning correctly.
- Liver evaluation – Changes in your cat’s liver enzymes (ALKP, ALT) and bilirubin levels helps us determine how this important organ is functioning.
- Electrolytes & minerals – Many diseases may change or alter your cat’s electrolytes (sodium, chloride, potassium) and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium). Patterns of electrolyte disturbances or changes in mineral content in the blood may give important clues to the health of your cat.
- Blood protein levels (albumin, globulin, total protein) – Changes may indicate an inflammatory process, and infectious process, or disease in an internal organ.
- Glucose – Measurement of your cat’s blood sugar helps screen for diabetes.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
this routine blood panel evaluates bone marrow production and the immune system. Our complete blood counts provide the following important information:
- White blood cell evaluation – White blood cells help your cat’s body fight off infection. Changes in specific white blood cells lines (neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils, monocytes, basophils) may give important clues to the health of your cat. Abnormalities may indicate an infection, inflammation or cancer.
- Red Blood cells – Changes in red blood cell parameters may give us a clue about a bone marrow disorder, parasites, chronic disease in an internal organ, or an immune-mediated process.
- Platelets – Platelets are used to form clots and prevent bleeding from blood vessels. Changes in platelet counts may indicate a problem about your cat’s health.
The most common hormone disorder in cats results from an abnormal enlargement in the thyroid gland and an excessive production of thyroid hormone. Clinically, you may notice weight loss, a ravenous appetite, vomiting, and behavior change. All cats over 8 years of age should be screened for thyroid disease annually.
Blood Glucose Curves
We perform blood glucose curves on our diabetic patients to monitor the response to insulin injections administered at home. These curves are pursued in new diabetic patients and diabetic patients that suddenly become uncontrolled. A blood glucose curve determines the blood glucose level every 2-4 hours (depending on the insulin used) throughout the day. We are able to monitor the blood glucose “highs” and “lows” in response to the insulin administered. With this information, we are able to make sure your cat is receiving an appropriate dose of insulin (i.e. not too much, not too little).
Evaluation of the urine is an important aspect of assessing your cat’s health. Our urinalysis evaluates for the following:
- Urine concentration (this helps evaluate the kidney function)
- Urine pH
- Presence of crystals
- Presence of bacteria
- Cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, kidney cells, other abnormal cells)
Bacterial infections in otherwise healthy cats are fairly rare. Often cats that are urinating outside the litter box do so for reasons other than infection. Older cats with kidney disease or diabetes are at a higher risk for developing urinary tract infections. As part of every urinalysis performed at The Cat Doctor, we culture a sample to assess for infection and determine if antibiotics are necessary. By culturing your cat’s urine, we are able to also determine which antibiotic is the right choice for your cat’s infection.
CytologyOur staff is trained to perform a variety of exams using the microscope. We routinely evaluate for ear mites and ear infections, skin infections, vaginal infections, conjunctival diseases, and assess masses for abnormal cells in our lab. In cases where we need a second opinion from a pathologist, we send samples to our outside lab