When your cat is going to have a procedure that involves anesthesia, veterinarians recommend a pre-anesthetic blood test. The test isn’t required, and because it can cost almost as much as the surgery itself, some people skip the pre-anesthesia screening, either because they can’t afford it or because they view it as an unnecessary expense.
The truth is, there are four very good reasons for getting a pre-anesthetic blood test.
The pre-anesthetic blood test includes a complete blood count. The CBC measures how many red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are in your cat’s blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen around her body, and if she doesn’t have enough of them, she may not be able to recover as well from the anesthetic and the surgery.
White blood cells are crucial to your cat’s immune system. If your cat has too many of them, she could have an infection. On the other hand, if she doesn’t have enough white blood cells, she may not be able to fight off germs that could cause problems after her surgery.
Platelets are crucial to your cat’s ability to form blood clots. If your cat doesn’t have enough platelets, she could keep bleeding from her wound for far too long and become anemic.
The pre-anesthetic blood test also includes a serum blood chemistry, which includes measurement of liver and kidney function. Because anesthetics are metabolized through the liver and kidneys, it’s crucial that your vet knows whether those organs are working properly. Because a cat doesn’t start showing signs of kidney disease until at least 70 percent of her kidney function is gone, you wouldn’t know whether she has this problem without a blood test.
The serum blood chemistry also measures glucose, calcium, cholesterol, and electrolyte levels. The results of these screenings can determine if your cat has diabetes, hyperthyroidism, pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, or other potentially serious illnesses.
Knowing that your cat’s general health, as depicted by her lab tests, is good. It can help you to worry less while your cat is in surgery. Good blood tests don’t necessarily mean everything will go well, but if your cat is that one in a million who has complications from surgery or anesthesia, your conscience won’t bother you about not having done something that might have provided a warning of potential problems.
Have you had pre-anesthetic blood testing done on your cat? Did the test reveal a hidden illness or some other unexpected revelation? Let me know in the comments!