Laboratory tests and screening for disease
Although not every owner will be able to afford regular laboratory profiles for their cat, where it is possible these can provide invaluable information. This is perhaps truer in cats than some other species, because of their ability to hide signs of disease. Additionally, being able to monitor changes over time and see trends occurring at an early stage can prove invaluable in the early diagnosis of disease. For example, if the bodyweight, body condition score, muscle condition score and results of urinalysis of a Mature cat are monitored at least annually, trends such as reduced bodyweight and development of progressively less concentrated urine (suggestive of chronic kidney disease) or glucosuria (suggestive of diabetes) may be detected at a much earlier stage than would otherwise be possible.
Cat Care for Life outlines what would be ideal in most healthy cats in different life stages. Collection of some laboratory data may be desirable during the Adult life stages, especially as a baseline to which results obtained later in life can be compared. Regular collection of data (on an annual basis) is recommended for Mature cats, and on an annual or bi-annual basis in Senior and Super Senior cats.
The recommended MDB (minimum database) is outlined below. Again, financial constraints may limit the frequency and extent of testing, but much can still be achieved, even with inexpensive tests like urinalysis and selected additional blood tests (used judiciously) when more complete testing is not possible.
A routine profile should include:
- Complete and differential white blood cell count
- Red blood cell count and red cell indices
- Platelet count
- Evaluation of a blood smear including platelet numbers
- Total proteins, albumin and globulin
- Urea, creatinine and SDMA
- ALT and ALP
- Sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate
- Additionally, total T4 should be included annually in the profile of Senior and Super Senior cats because of the increased risks of hyperthyroidism, and annual testing of Mature cats is also highly recommended
- Specific gravity (measured by refractometer)
- ‘Dipstick’ analysis for glucose, ketones, bilirubin and blood
- Sediment examination
- Assessment of proteinuria, ideally by urine protein:creatinine ratio