As veterinary professionals, we see cats at all stages of life, from kittenhood all the way to geriatric. As your pet ages, he or she may be more likely to develop certain medical conditions. With medical testing, several treatable conditions may be detected prior to clinical signs or severe illness.
When is a good time to begin testing your pet annually?
It is important to more closely monitor cats as they enter the geriatric stage of life. Onset of older age depends on genetics, general health, and body weight. Obesity can greatly shorten an animal's lifespan. Indoor cats tend to live longer than cats that go outside due to environmental factors.
The average cat may live 13 years or more. Geriatric age begins at approximately 10 years of age.
We recommend annual medical testing for all cats beginning at 8 years of age. Tests include complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, thyroid test, and urine analysis. The doctor will decide with the owner if any further tests would be indicated after examination.
EXPLANATION OF MEDICAL TESTING:
COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT
Checks red blood cells for following conditions:
- Anemia: decrease in red blood cell number
Causes: Kidney disease, Immune system disease (lupus, auto destruction of red blood cells, platelet deficiencies or destruction, cancer), vitamin deficiencies, gastric or intestinal hemorrhage, slowly bleeding internal tumors, Feline Leukemia Virus, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
- Leukocytosis: elevated number of neutrophils
Causes: Systemic bacterial infection or inflammation in the body, leukemia (bone marrow cancer), immune system disease.
- Leucopoenia: decreased number of neutrophils
Causes: Systemic viral infection, leukemia (bone marrow cancer)
- Thrombocytopenia: decreased number of platelets, which are needed for blood clotting, and could cause severe anemia.
Causes: Autoimmune disease (lupus, cancer, unknown causes)
- Lymphocytosis: increased number of lymphocytes
Causes: Viral infection, leukemia (bone marrow cancer), lymphoma
- Lymphopenia: decreased number of lymphocytes
Causes: glandular diseases, stress syndromes.
Blood is centrifuged to separate out and remove serum for testing. Serum contains chemicals which can be measured to determine if internal organs are functioning normally. The following are some of the tests performed:
- Blood Urea Nitrogen - Kidney function test
- Creatinine - Kidney function test
- Blood Glucose - Diabetes test, or pancreatic tumor
- Electrolytes (Sodium/Potassium) - May reveal glandular disorders
- Thyroid Test - Hypo or hyperthyroidism (5% of older cats become Hyperthyroid)
- ALT, AST, ALK, Bilirubin - Liver enzymes; may be elevated from liver disease
- Amylase - May be elevated from pancreatic disease
This test may reveal abnormal heart rhythms which are not always detected with a stethoscope. Underlying heart disease may be detected and treated prior to clinical symptoms.
Urine is very helpful in assessing kidney function. It can also be helpful in diagnosing diabetes and urinary tract infections.
This is a routine screening test for intestinal parasites. Many cats have parasites without clinical symptoms. Some animals have occasional intestinal problems, and some have chronic problems.
X-Rays will sometimes be recommended for certain breeds susceptible to heart disease, or if an irregular heart rhythm or heart murmur is detected.
Results of testing will be discussed in detail. A written report of all tests and any recommendations for further testing, medical treatment, and or nutritional modification will be forwarded to the pet owner.