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Understanding Blood Work: The Complete Blood Count (CBC) for Cats

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Blood work is a very important diagnostic tool that provides a significant amount of information about your pet's health. A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test used to measure and evaluate cells that circulate in the blood. The test includes an actual counting of red and white blood cells as well as an analysis of cells viewed on a blood smear. A CBC may be useful as a screening test for underlying infection, anemia and illness.

Sometimes, the CBC can help determine the underlying cause of an anemia or infection. Drugs that affect the bone marrow change the CBC. Certain types of cancers, especially leukemia, may be evident on a blood smear. Blood parasites and some microorganisms are found by careful inspection of the blood cells during the CBC. In some cases, the results of the CBC will prompt your veterinarian to recommend other diagnostic tests.

Sample CBC

The following is an example of a complete blood count report. Normal values often vary from lab to lab and are represented in parentheses. These norms should not be considered universal.

WBC..... 10.6 x 10-3/mcl.........(4-12 x 10-3/mcl)
RBC....... 6.2 x 10-6/mcl........(5.7-10.5 x 10-6/mcl)
HGB........ 14 g/dl............(9-16 g/dl)
HCT..........48%................(38-52%)
MCV....... 55.9 fl............(40-60 fl)
MCH....... 18.2 pg............(15-20 pg)
MCHC...... 33.5 g/dl..........(32-36 g/dl)
PLT........ 210/mcl.............(160-420/mcl)

Differential

Segs......... 48%..............(51-72%)
Lymphs..... 40%..............(8-35%)
Monos........ 6%..............(1-9%)
Eos............ 4%...............(0-9%)
Baso.......... 2%...............(0-2%)

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