Do typical lab results for raw-fed cats (domestic and small wild) exist? If so, where?
July 26, 2012 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Three of my four cats are (mostly) raw-fed. My vet knows about this, and finds their recent blood test results unremarkable, despite the fact that some of their values are technically "out of range" or near the extreme end of what is statistically "normal". I'm not worried if my vet isn't, but where's the data on this? Does it even exist? Do I need to perhaps compare my cats' results to those of small wildcats, and if so, where's that data?

Mind you, this is all just being asked on the basis of my pervasive obsession with all things feline-related. I'm not a vet or an aspiring one, and I know you are not my vet.

But as for the specifics of why I'm curious...all 3 of my younger kitties (feral-born mutt-cat littermates; they'll be turning three years old next month) have creatinine levels of 2.1 - 2.4 mg/dL, and BUN levels of around 32. Judging from a cursory read of info around the web, you'd suspect these numbers to mean HOLY KIDNEYS, BATMAN! Moreover, the younger cats' creatinine and BUN are a bit *higher* than those of my 10-year-old Siamese...who was just flagged for early-stage renal insufficiency because her urine tested as exhibiting abnormally low specific gravity.

BUT, here's where it gets interesting: my vet seems perfectly happy to attribute the younger cats' results to their very high-protein/practically-zero-carb diet, and isn't at all worried. The younger cats have normal specific gravity, which is apparently indicative of good kidney function as they're properly concentrating urine and their other results look great.

Again, if the Dr. is cool with things, so am I -- her response to my older cat's results seem a strong indication that she knows her stuff.

But I'm still really curious as to whether there are any actual, reliable data out there showing typical lab values for kitties who are NOT on a standard commercial diet.

All I find when I search are (a) "holistic" health sites and message board posts (which are not even close to the level of credibility I'm after) and (b) papers published by large pet-food companies who, for completely understandable reasons, aren't apt to conduct large-scale studies of foods other than those they themselves produce.

I'd been figuring zoos, etc., would probably have this information available online somewhere, but I've not found anything useful yet. Is all this stuff just buried behind a paywall somewhere or am I missing the obvious? Thanks!
posted by aecorwin to Pets & Animals (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a vet, but not your vet so this isn't medical advice.

Could you be more specific about what exact data you want, just info on non-commercial fed cats?

This abstract is a good place to start. Some of this data is available on, but that is a pay site where you must be a licensed vet. It comes down to that data not being especially useful in selling anything.

Were these blood samples pulled from a cat that had fasted? If not, your vet may want to repeat with fasting. To evaluate creatinine you need to make sure the cat is well hydrated.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 2:38 PM on July 26, 2012

Response by poster: Nickel Pickle: whoah, that abstract is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for! I'll check it out in more detail and see about getting access to the full text (I know some people who might have access, and if not, I'm not against making one-time payments to read interesting papers).

As for the exact data I'm curious about...basically I was thinking something along the lines of the standard lab panels my cats get, which include wellness chemistries (where the BUN, creat., glucose, etc. are listed), CBC, urinalysis (where specific gravity is indicated), etc. Supporting discussion/details regarding the interrelationships between the specific values would also be great. It was really the fact that (per my vet) the BUN/creatinine levels in isolation are much less useful indicators of health than those levels in conjunction with urinalysis results that sparked my curiosity, and I'm really interested in how all these bits of body chemistry interact.

Regarding fasting: the cats were not fasted when tested. The clinic didn't require that they be fasted and their appointment actually occurred shortly after they'd had breakfast. :/ Judging by your comment I'm planning on asking if I should fast them all next time they get a blood/urine panel if that would indeed increase accuracy.
posted by aecorwin at 3:03 PM on July 26, 2012

If the lab is like people labs, the "normal" values are statistically derived from the population of tests that lab has done over time. Normal is something like one standard deviation from average. (Or some other statistical means of determining an average range.)

So normal isn't necessarily optimum, or even normal, if that lab had a run of kitties with particularly good or bad kidneys.

Also, remember that cats have slightly different essential amino acids than people. I believe it is mostly taken care of by eating mostly meat, but you might want to check and make sure the particular meat you are feeding is acceptable.
posted by gjc at 6:46 PM on July 26, 2012

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