It was annual exam time for Willow, a 14-year-old cat owned by Lorian and Douglas Taylor. By all outward appearances, Willow was doing well with no new concerns, other than one day of having a decreased appetite.
Willow was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism during her annual blood work screening last year, but her signs have been successfully managed with medication given twice daily. She also has early cataracts and does not see well, but she still navigates about the house with few problems.
Given her age however, Dr. Schaeffer recommended that the Taylors have a geriatric blood panel and urinalysis done on Willow. The lab work would be used to monitor her hyperthyroidism and to assess Willow’s general health.
Willow was very brave as Dr. Schaeffer drew blood for the panel and obtained a sterile urine sample. To Dr. Schaeffer’s surprise, Willow had a significant urinary tract infection or UTI. On the urinalysis, she found a high number of white blood cells and red bacteria – evidence of an infection, even though Willow was not showing any outward signs of the infection at home. On the bright side, Willow’s blood panel showed that her hyperthyroidism continues to be well-managed with medication and no new problems were detected.
To clear up the UTI, Dr. Schaeffer prescribed a two-week course of antibiotics (which she eats in pill pockets!) and Dr. Schaeffer plans to recheck a urine sample when she is finished.
We are happy to have addressed Willow’s UTI with the help of the urinalysis – something that would not have been obvious until she showed more outward signs of infection later on (urinating more frequently, in smaller amounts, blood in urine, decreased appetite, drinking more water). UTIs can also affect the kidneys in some chronic cases.
Willow reminds us of the importance of annual lab work / blood work and urinalysis – and why we recommend it as our pets get older.