Even pets that are apparently happy and healthy can hide medical problems that, if left untreated, can become serious and even life-threatening. Blood tests are essential for identifying diseases in the early and treatable stages.
Blood tests are often recommended for both healthy animals (those undergoing anesthesia) and sick animals. By interpreting the tests, the veterinarian manages to treat the disorder more quickly.
There are many types of blood tests that can be done on your cat. The most common test is the FeLV/FIV, which allows the vet to discover any potential diseases in your pet. Blood work comes with several other options including total thyroid level testing, serum chemistry analysis, and CBC (complete blood count).
How much does cat blood work cost?
Blood work can range from $75 to $190 for one test, depending on how many are necessary and their type. The standard blood testing done annually costs around $260, but it’s not likely that you’ll find something lifesaving in their results anyway.
The cost of a blood screen and chemistry test can be as low as $85, but if you need to check for a specific disease such as FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) in an at-risk cat it could cost up to several hundred dollars.
Some forum members on The Cat Site have reported paying $220 to $245 for a blood work test in order to determine the calcium levels. One other thread has discussed the fact that the cost of testing for Felv, FIV, and FIP is around $130.
Animals have special machines that test their blood due to the different chemical properties. This is why cat testing can be so expensive and rare – companies don’t produce these machines often and they cost more than human-oriented ones do.
Cat blood work details
In the veterinary medical centers, the collection of blood samples is performed by a veterinarian on a special table, equipped with a hydraulic system operated by remote control (if necessary the table can be lowered or raised), in the presence of the owner. The owner may choose to be present during labor and will help restrain (keep) the animal during the procedure or may leave the treatment room if he does not like to see blood or is very excited. Pets are very connected to the emotional states of the owners. Containment, if required, can be ensured by using special bags to immobilize cats.
Venous stasis will be achieved with the help of a special animal tourniquet. After a rigorous and well-performed disinfection on the affected area, the vein is punctured with a sterile disposable flyer or a special needle that connects directly to the vacutainer, the doctor choosing the best and safest option for each patient, then collecting blood in special vacuum cleaners for each analysis to be performed. After filling the vacuum cleaner, the disposable flyer or needle is removed from the vein, a bandage is placed on the puncture site and the tourniquet is removed. For some animals, this new experience can create sensations of anxiety, nervousness, or fear. You should know that the collection procedure is not painful – the animal only feels the sting of the skin.
Getting a diagnosis can be difficult for your vet. Most vets don’t have their own in-house lab, so they will ship off the blood work to another facility and get results back within 48 to 72 hours of taking it from your pet.
Common cat blood tests
|Critical Care Profile||The standard blood test is usually done before a cat undergoes a surgical procedure. This test will help determine if the cat is healthy enough to go under anesthesia.|
|CBC||Vets use this test to measure the white blood cell count of your cat.|
|PCV||You can use this very fast test to check the percentage of red blood cells in your cat. This will give you valuable information about a potential disease in your cat.|
|Glucose Check||This is a fast blood test, that can be done within seconds, and will test the glucose level of your cat’s blood.|
|Standard||You will be able to combine the CBC, T4 levels, and serum chemistry, all in one, with this standard test. Your cat will have to give around 2ccs of blood for this test.|
|Serum Chemistry||If you need to check your cat’s electrolytes, blood proteins, and enzymes, you can use this test.|
|T4 Thyroid||You can use this test to check the cat’s T4 thyroid hormone levels.|
|Total Proteins||It can use this test to determine if the cat is dehydrated or has a systemic inflammatory condition by seeing if the cat’s blood proteins are elevated.|
What are the extra costs?
Vets may send out bloodwork to an outside lab, which could result in additional fees. They can also choose to use their own lab within the facility, in which case expect to pay a lab fee. The vet might decide not to have their own laboratory at all but instead pay another company less money just so that you don’t need as much time waiting around.
Important things to consider
As in the case of us humans, laboratory tests for our non-speaking friends should be performed regularly: recommended at least once a year for young animals (cats up to 6-8 years) and twice a year for older animals. The results of these regular check-ups can tell the veterinarian what the animal cannot.
Consumption of a meal close to the time of collection can significantly alter blood sugar (blood glucose), the presence of lipids or fats in the blood (triglycerides, cholesterol), and even to a lesser extent, the increase in nitrogen waste. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that the animal has not ingested food in the last twelve hours. As for water, there are no restrictions, on the contrary. Also, the cat should avoid any major effort 2-3 hours before sampling.
The administration of certain medicines can also affect the results – don’t forget to tell your veterinarian about any current treatment.
How can I save money?
There’s no harm in calling a few vets and getting their quotes over the phone even if you trust your current one. If you can articulate what needs to be done, most vets will give ballpark numbers without having seen your pet in person.