Feline Disease Diagnosis

It's hard to know how to treat a feline disease when a cat is sick without a proper diagnosis. For this reason, veterinarians employ several different tools, tests and scans to help them know what a cat is ill with and how to best treat the disease.

Standard Diagnostic Tests

When a cat has symptoms of any sort, there are tests a veterinarian will almost always do. The first is a physical exam. When a veterinarian examines a cat, he'll feel around for lumps or growths and look at the condition of a cat’s skin and fur. The cat's heart, eyes, ears, mouth, teeth and weight will also be checked. This seemingly simple exam can help narrow down the possible diseases a cat may have.

Blood tests are often standard to try to find any abnormalities that'll lead to clues about what's making a cat sick. Along with blood tests, a cat's urine and feces may also be tested, depending on the cat's symptoms. Some feline diseases require more specific tests to help diagnose and treat a cat.

Diagnosing Cancer

Cancer is the result of a malignant growth within a cat that can be isolated to one area in the feline body or spread throughout. When a growth has been discovered in a cat, there are a couple of tests a veterinarian can do to see if it’s malignant.

A fine needle aspiration is a test that involves sticking a needle into a mass to acquire fluids from within it. The fluid taken from the cat is then examined to see if the cells collected show any signs of cancer.

A biopsy is a procedure that's usually minor. A veterinarian will stick a bigger needle into a suspicious mass in a cat. The needle has a tool within it that cuts off a small bit of the affected tissue to be studied in a lab. The appearance of the cells collected can help tell if a cat has cancer or not.

X-Rays, Ultrasounds and Other Scans

X-rays, ultrasounds, and other imaging devices are used for a variety of diagnostic purposed. An x-ray, which gets a basic image of the inside of a cat, is usually the first go-to diagnostic tool a veterinarian will use to see if there are abnormalities to any internal organs such as unusual sizes or new growths. X-rays also show the location of broken bones.

If there's a problem with a cat's internal organ that was discovered with an x-ray, an ultrasound may follow. Ultrasound machines use sound waves to show the internal organs in motion, their size, the flow of blood, and what a particular growth or abnormality looks like and how it's affecting the surrounding organs. These details serve as great diagnostic tools to help a veterinarian decide the next course of action.

In more serious cases, CAT scan or MRI will be used to find information about more sensitive areas of a cat that x-ray and ultrasound imaging can't show.

Basic diagnostic tools go a long way in helping a vet know what disease a cat has. Without a diagnosis, treatment would be a disappointing guessing game.