Educational Articles

Cats + Diagnosis

  • Electrolytes are the salts and metallic components that are dissolved within the blood serum, and are involved in most of the body's daily functions.

  • Serum iron tests are indicated when the results from a complete blood count (CBC) indicate that your pet is anemic (decreased red blood cell numbers and/or decreased hemoglobin) and that the red blood cells are microcytic (smaller than usual) and hypochromic (contain less hemoglobin than usual).

  • Serum is the liquid portion of blood from which the red blood cells, white blood cells, and factors involved in blood clotting have been removed.

  • Serum is the liquid portion of blood from which the red blood cells, white blood cells, and factors involved in blood clotting have been removed.

  • A biopsy is one of the more common diagnostic procedures performed in cats. Biopsies provide valuable insight into the type of cells in an abnormal area of skin or a skin growth and whether the growth poses a more serious health threat to your pet. Either the entire mass or a small representative section of skin is removed and submitted to a veterinary pathologist, who will perform a histopathology analysis. The pathologist will attempt to determine the nature of the lesion, identify the type of cells and their relationship to each other, as well as any evidence of malignancy.

  • Addison’s disease or hypoadrenocorticism results from decreased corticosteroid and mineralocorticoid production from the adrenal glands. This results in non-specific signs of illness that mimic many other diseases. Laboratory changes consistent with Addison’s disease include anemia, absence of a stress leukogram (in a sick/stressed pet), hypoglycemia, elevated potassium, and low sodium causing a low sodium:potassium ratio, elevated kidney values and high urine specific gravity. Although an elevated resting blood cortisol level can rule out Addison’s disease, an ACTH stimulation test is needed to diagnose Addison’s disease. This requires a resting blood cortisol sample, administration of synthetic ACTH and a blood cortisol level 1-2 hours later to assess the adrenal response to ACTH. Consistently low levels of cortisol despite ACTH stimulation confirm the diagnosis. Primary Addison’s and secondary/atypical Addison’s can be differentiated by assessing the amount of endogenous ACTH in the blood.

  • Abdominal enlargement is a general term that means a cat's belly is larger or fuller than usual and bulges beyond the normal outline of the body. Abdominal enlargement may develop for many reasons depending on the age and gender of the cat.

  • Coughing can have many different causes. Important for the diagnosis is a thorough history, physical exam, and screening tests including CBC, biochemistry profile, urinalysis, fecal testing (including fecal Baermann), heartworm testing, and chest radiographs. Additional, more advanced diagnostics, may be needed including ultrasound, thoracocentesis, transtracheal wash, bronchoscopy, or bronchoalveolar lavage. Culture and sensitivity testing, fungal serology, and cytology may be performed on fluid/tissue that is sampled.

  • Listlessness and inappetence are vague signs that can occur in pets for many reasons, both physical and mental. Conditions that produce these signs include grief, anxiety, oral disease, organ dysfunction, and cancer. Diagnosis starts with taking a thorough history and physical exam and may progress to screening tests including a CBC, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. Other diagnostic tests that may be needed include hormonal tests, liver function tests, imaging (radiographs or ultrasound), culture and sensitivity, or specific tests for infectious diseases or immune mediated disease.

  • Diarrhea can be caused by many different things, some easier to diagnose than others. Simple diarrhea with no other clinical signs may not require diagnostic testing, but if diarrhea is ongoing or your pet is showing other clinical signs then baseline diagnostic testing including complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and fecal testing may be recommended. Additional diagnostic testing may be required depending on the results of these tests.