Scratching Post: Testing, Testing

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Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

Labwork (blood testing, urinalysis) is a very important component in our overall assessment of your cat’s health. These results can help us diagnose medical conditions, monitor a patient’s response to treatment or progression of disease, and check for systemic side effects from medications. Many of our clients have asked why their cats need to have their bloodwork rechecked so often.

Although every case is different, here is some general information about commonly performed laboratory testing:

  • Chemistry: The serum chemistry panel typically includes kidney and liver values, blood glucose, and electrolytes.
  • CBC: A complete blood count gives us information about a patient’s white and red blood cells.
  • T4: Thyroid level
  • Urinalysis: This test includes the urine specific gravity (concentration) and pH as well as protein, crystals, bacteria, red blood cells, and white blood cells.

Diagnosing systemic disease: For our senior patients (cats over 7 years old), we typically recommend a “Senior Wellness Panel” (chemistry, CBC, T4, +/- urinalysis) every six months. This allows us to screen for many of the common diseases of older cats such as kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism. We recommend testing every six months because changes in these values can occur in a matter of months, and we can often diagnose a problem before the patient has any clinical signs of disease at home. For younger cats, this testing is also a great way to establish a baseline of the cat’s results when he or she is healthy.

Pre-anesthetic screening: Although we make every effort to ensure that anesthesia is as safe as possible, it is important for us to ensure that your cat does not have any abnormalities that would increase the risk of anesthesia for a dental procedure, spay or neuter, grooming, or other procedure. If we do have concerns about these results, we may make adjustments to our anesthetic protocol, or we may recommend that the procedure be postponed.

Monitoring for drug side effects: Medications can be metabolized/processed by the body in several different ways, including via the liver and kidneys. For most patients whose conditions are stable, we recommend monitoring bloodwork every six months for changes in liver, kidney, and white blood cell values. Often, we can halt the progression of these changes or even reverse them by adjusting the dose or changing to a different medication. We want to ensure that your cat is on an appropriate dose of medication that controls their medical condition and has minimal side effects.

These are general guidelines that apply to most of our patients, but your cat’s veterinarian will make specific recommendations taking into account your cat’s age, medical condition, and temperament. Our primary goal is your cat’s health and well-being. If you have any questions about the blood testing schedule we have recommended for your cat, please ask!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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