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Skin Cytology in Cats

A skin cytology helps identify skin infections in cats.

Skin cytology is a non-invasive procedure which allows a veterinarian to test a cat's skin for the presence of various organisms and cell types to aid in the diagnosis of dermatologic conditions. In other words, if your cat is showing signs of a skin condition, your vet might do a skin cytology as part of a complete physical exam to help diagnose the problem.

Some of the signs of skin problems in cats include:

  • Pulling out hair
  • Licking or biting incessantly at an area of the body
  • Redness, inflammation, or bumps on the skin

How Is a Feline Skin Cytology Performed?

When your veterinarian wants to perform a skin cytology test on your cat, he or she will probably use a cotton swab rolled firmly across an affected area of the skin multiple times. Then, the doctor will roll that swab several times across a microscope slide. The slide may then be heat fixed and stained so the veterinarian can observe it under a microscope.

What Can a Skin Cytology Tell Your Veterinarian?

Most of the time, when a veterinarian performs a skin cytology, he or she is concerned about an infection going on. Various types of bacteria, as well as yeast species, can be observed under a microscope on a skin cytology sample. Also, different types of white blood cells can be identified in a skin cytology, and that will also give the veterinarian valuable information concerning various inflammatory conditions that can affect a cat's skin.

A skin cytology is one of the tools in a veterinarian's arsenal to help diagnose a skin problem in your cat. He or she will also take a thorough history from you, do a complete physical examination, and may perform other skin tests such as:

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