The Adventures of Captain Krinkles at The Cat Clinic – Blood Testing for FeLV/FIV and Preanaesthetic Profiles
So far Captain Krinkles has been a brave boy and “donated” blood for testing twice during his kitten hood. For kittens we routinely take blood for two different type of testing. Depending on the age of the kitten this may be combined into one sample or it may need to be done separately.
Taking blood from cats in general can be a little trickier than with most dogs. This is why the handling exercises and socialization from the previous adventure are once again so important. With cat’s we have several different techniques we may use to find what blood sampling method works for each individual patient. Krinkles prefers us to take his sample from a medial saphenous vein which is the vein running down the inside of his back leg. To do this one of his substitute mommy’s snuggles him on his side while another places a small catheter into the vein to take the sample. Sometimes kitty’s feel safer if this is done while they are wrapped in a snuggly blanket. Mojito who is the clinic cat at our sister clinic prefers his samples to be taken from his jugular vein which runs down either side of the throat. This can easily be done by tilting the cats head in the air slightly and using a needle and syringe to draw the sample. The snuggly blanket may also be used in this position.
Once we have the sample then the testing begins.
The first test we run on kittens is a Feline Leukemia test. Depending on the age of your kitten we may also run a Feline Immunodeficiency test.
Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency virus are both diseases that are highly contagious and weaken the cat’s immune system. Unfortunately there are no outward signs of these diseases so the only way for us to diagnose them is by running a blood test. If your cat does have a positive test it would change some of the routine medical recommendations as well as be a risk to any other cats that you may have at home. (For more information on FeLV and FIV there are handouts in the medical support section)
These tests are available as what’s called an Elisa snap test. Which means we can run the sample at the clinic and have the results to you very quickly. These tests have what’s called a positive and a negative control as well as the testing spot for the patient testing. Positive results show up as blue dots. Thankfully Krinkles test came out negative, the blue dot showing in his test is the positive control. He had to have this preformed when he was still young so he could go and play with the other cats in the household.
The other testing we do on kittens is normally preformed within a week of them undergoing an anaesthetic for spaying or neutering.
Preanaesthetic blood testing allows us to detect hidden illnesses. Cats by nature hide when they aren’t feeling well so healthy looking pets may be hiding signs of a disease. This blood testing allows us to see how the internal organs are functioning (primarily the liver and kidneys). If preanaesthetic test results are normal, we can proceed with confidence. If not, we can alter the anesthetic procedures or take other precautions to safeguard your cat’s health. If your kitten has other known risk factors then we may ask to run additional testing specifically for your kitten’s needs.
Brittish Shorthairs are known to carry a cardiac condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy so in Krinkles case we also did a specific test to detect cardiac muscle damage called a probnp. Due to all the infections in his eye we wanted to take a closer look at his blood cells so we also ran a complete blood count. If you have questions on what test would be beneficial before you cat or kitten undergoes an anesthetic please feel free to ask the veterinarian. Our cuddly little boy’s results all came back normal so we knew we could go ahead with his neutering and enucleation with confidence.
For his next adventure Krinkles will be demonstrating all the steps to take to keep anesthetics safe and what can be expected when your cat comes to the hospital for surgery.
Written by Angelina Johnstone RVT