June 2015 Case of the Month

Blood smear and peritoneal fluid from a cat 

Case information:

A 4 year old male castrated domestic shorthair cat presented with a 4 day history of anorexia, lethargy and vomiting. The referring veterinarian had administered Convenia and Metacam, with no improvement noted by the owner. Upon presentation to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, the cat was laterally recumbent, depressed, and dehydrated (estimated at 7-10%). The cat had a body condition score of 8/9 (obese). Blood was drawn for a CBC and full chemistry panel. The CBC revealed a moderate anemia with minimal regeneration and degenerative left shift with a normal neutrophil count and marked toxic change (Figure 1A). Abdominal tension and mild pain on palpation was noted. Abdominal ultrasound revealed effusion and raised concern for foreign bodies in the stomach and a suspect linear foreign body in the intestine. Peritoneal fluid was collected and submitted for cytological examination and bacterial culture. The nucleated cell count of the fluid was 2,600 cells/ul and the protein concentration was 3.5 g/dL. Lactate and glucose were also measured on the peritoneal fluid sample, and were 2.6 mmol/L and 302 mg/dL, respectively. Abbreviated chemistry results are listed below, as well as photomicrographs of the blood smear and peritoneal fluid (Figures 1 B and 1C). The urinalysis was unremarkable.

Abbreviated biochemistry results:

Analyte: Value: Reference Range:
Sodium 131 mEq/L 151-158 mEq/L
Chloride 91 mEq/L 113-123 mEq/L
Calcium 7.1 g/dL 9.1-10.9 g/dL
Glucose 315 mg/dL 64-144 g/dL
Alk Phos 5 U/L 13-83 U/L

Fig 1A June 2015
Fig 1A: Blood smear from a cat

Figure 1B June 2015
Figure 1B: Peritoneal fluid

Figure 1C June 2015
Figure 1C: Peritoneal fluid


  • Is there biochemical evidence that supports on-going vomiting?
  • How would you classify the cat’s peritoneal fluid?
  • Are the cytological findings consistent with a perforated GI tract and septic peritonitis?
  • What material do you suspect is in the macrophages (Figure 1B, long arrow) and neutrophils (arrows in Figure 1C)?

Answer on next page

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