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Red Blood Cells In Cat EarsUpdated 10 months ago

Red blood cells (RBC) are not normally seen under the microscope (1000x magnification) in an ear cytology of a healthy cat ear unless the swab sample collection technique was too forceful (thus getting some minor bleeding). 

Instead, and most commonly, we see larger quantities of red blood cells if the ear is inflamed (red, sore, swollen) and/or if a microbe (bacteria, yeast) infection or ear mite infestation is underway. Red blood cells are also common when rubbing the ear swab against polyps, adenomas, or cancerous tumors in the ear. Therefore, it’s important to interpret the RBC results along with the other cytology results for the same ear. 

If the RBC counts are high (1+, 2+, 3+, 4+) in your cat’s ear swab samples, and combined with high numbers of bacteria and/or yeast (or any ear mites), and/or with one or more clinical signs (e.g., scratching at head), then a physical exam of your cat’s ears is needed by a veterinarian.

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