Elevated White Blood Cell Count and Parasites

CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, discusses reasons why kitten might have high white blood cell count.

Q: I have a question about my 6-month-old kitten. My husband and I took Casper to the vet for her first check-up and was told that her white blood cell count was high. We were not given any other info except to give her (treatment for) worm, ear mites and flea control. Also we were told that it could be that he has worms.  Can you help?

A: It’s hard to give advice with the limited information you provided.

When the white blood cell count is measured, it is actually a measure of several different types of white blood cells. These are neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes and eosinophils. These cells have different functions.

Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that is often elevated when cats have allergic or parasitic disease. Because kittens are likely to have parasites, such as ear mites, fleas and/or intestinal parasites, I wouldn’t be surprised if the elevated white count was actually due to an elevated eosinophil count. If that’s the case, it is nothing to worry about. If you treat the parasites, the eosinophil count will likely return  to normal. The product they gave you is probably a once-a-month topical preparation designed to treat fleas, ear mites and internal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms.

These products are usually very effective. A month or so after you apply this product, you should bring a fecal sample to your vet and have it checked for intestinal worms, to be sure.

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Cats · Health and Care