The Uses of the CBC Blood Test for Cats

A cbc blood test is usually the first diagnostic test that will be ordered when your pet is suspected of illness or infection. The complete blood count is effective at telling veterinarians the status of the cells in the blood and allows them to interpret the results. Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are what your cat’s veterinarian will be analyzing with a complete blood count.

Obtaining a blood sample for a complete blood count is not difficult and does not require sedation. Likewise, there is little to no known pain associated with it in that it is similar to receiving a vaccination.

Red Blood Cells

Red blood cell count is measured with the expression RBC. These are the cells that carry oxygen to different tissues and structures throughout the body. Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, which is actually the agent that carries oxygen throughout the body and takes back carbon dioxide in exchange and deposits it into the lungs. Because oxygen is needed to provide energy to the body, red blood cells play a vital role in your cat's energy level.

If your cat's red blood cell count is high, it can be indicative of dehydration. Dehydration occurs when there is not enough fluid throughout the body; thus not enough oxygen is being carried to various parts of the body. When this condition occurs, the bone marrow will ramp up its production of red blood cells in an attempt to get more oxygen to the body.

On the flipside, if the red blood cell count is low, it is usually means that your cat has an anemic condition—meaning that your cat's blood is excessively thin and is not generating enough oxygen for the body. In most cases, anemia will cause your cat to feel sluggish and you may notice a paling of the ears and gums. All of these symptoms can be attributed to a reduction of oxygenated cells throughout the body.

White Blood Cells

White blood cell count is measured with the expression WBC. These are the cells that are responsible for fighting infection. When any type of infection or virus enters the body, the body immediately begins to release white blood cells to the site of infection. The white blood cells will remain in that area of the body until the virus or infection has cleared.

With that being said, your veterinarian will be able to tell if your cat has some type of illness when his white blood cell count is extremely low. The body does not produce white blood cells at the same rate for which it produces red blood cells. So, when white blood cells are sent to the site of an infection, they will remain there and the rest of the body will be devoid of a great number of white blood cells. This is how many cancers are initially detected.

In contrast, there are very few occasions for which the white blood cell count would be high. The only time white blood cells ever reach insanely high levels is when your cat has been under extreme stress or nervousness and the body reacts by creating more white blood cells.