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Ultrasounds for Cats

You've just found out that your cat needs an ultrasound. So, what exactly is a deline ultrasound and how can it help your pet? Our Jackson specialist vets explain how ultrasound scans are performed on pets in our in-house veterinary diagnostic lab. 

Veterinary Ultrasound Imaging

Our pets often find themselves in situations where they shouldn't be or encounter health issues such as cysts or tumors that require treatment. Ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of your pet's body.

Non-invasive veterinary ultrasounds can effectively diagnose or evaluate issues with your pet's internal organs or monitor their pregnancy.

Reasons Why Your Cat May Need An Ultrasound

An ultrasound can help vets examine the structure of your pet’s organs so we can discover and identify blockages, tumors, or other problems.

We can distinguish soft tissue masses from foreign bodies or fluid by using ultrasound, which would be difficult or impossible to do with a digital x-ray. The sound waves produced by the ultrasound are not harmful to your kitten.

Conditions That May Require An Ultrasound

The following conditions may require an ultrasound for your pet.

Heart Conditions

If your cat has a heart condition, your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist for a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram to assess the overall health of your animal's heart and look for abnormalities.

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If abnormalities are found in your pet's blood or urine tests, your veterinarian may suggest an abdominal ultrasound to assess the health of your pet's internal organs. This can provide a clearer understanding of the condition of organs like the lymph nodes, spleen, kidneys, liver, urinary bladder, and other relevant areas, helping to identify the cause of the abnormalities.

Examination of Soft Tissues

Ultrasound technology allows for the examination of nearly all soft tissues. Among the most common applications for ultrasounds are:

  • Ligaments
  • Eyes
  • Fetal viability and development
  • Tendons
  • Thyroid glands

If abnormal tissue is spotted during an ultrasound, the vet may also use the ultrasound to help collect tissue samples from the affected area.

Ultrasound-Assisted Tissue Collection

Samples are typically collected using these methods:

  • Tru-Cut biopsies
  • Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration

Your pet will most likely be sedated if your veterinarian performs ultrasound-assisted tissue collection. Ultrasounds allow us to perform biopsies in a less invasive manner than surgeries.

Types of Ultrasounds

Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasound

When your pet is in distress, the ultrasound focuses on the abdomen and chest to assess if there is a serious internal hemorrhage (bleeding) or pneumothorax (a condition where gas or air accumulates around the lungs).

Assisting your emergency vet in diagnosing the issue quickly ensures that an effective treatment plan can be put into action as soon as possible.


These detailed ultrasounds allow for a close assessment of the heart and its surrounding structures, including the pericardial sac. We can determine if the heart is functioning properly and identify any potential malfunctions.

Echocardiograms typically involve taking multiple measurements and performing various calculations, although they are generally painless. If your pet has recently been diagnosed with a heart murmur or is showing signs of heart disease, our specialists may refer them for an echocardiogram.

After identifying an abnormal part of an organ, a sample of the affected tissue can be collected through an ultrasound-guided biopsy. We can obtain a tissue sample through this biopsy, which can then be examined under a microscope to reveal more information. A diagnosis is almost always the result.

How To Prepare Your Cat for an Ultrasound

Ultrasounds on different parts of your pet's body require different preparations. Speak to your vet to find out how to prepare your pet for its ultrasound.

For abdominal ultrasounds, you may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for 8 to 12 hours. When the urinary bladder is full of urine, we can examine it more thoroughly. If at all possible, your cat should refrain from urinating for 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound.

The area to be examined will likely be shaved so clear images can be produced. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some must be sedated.

If biopsies need to be done, your pet will need a heavy sedative or short-acting anesthetic to help them relax during the procedure and prevent potential complications that could impede success. Your veterinarian will let you know if this is necessary.

Getting Your Cat's Ultrasound Results

Results are visible almost immediately as our veterinarians can perform real-time ultrasounds. Sometimes, veterinary radiologists receive ultrasound images for further consultation after they are captured. Final results in these cases may take a few days to be ready.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes only. Northside Animal Clinic does not offer ultrasounds at this time.

Contact us today to book a routine wellness exam for your cat. If we determine that they may benefit from an ultrasound, we may be able to provide you with a referral to a vet clinic in the Jackson area that performs ultrasounds.

New Patients Welcome

Northside Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Jackson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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