Cat Diagnostic Imaging

How Diagnostic Imaging May Help Get to the Root Of Your Cat's Health Issues

Cat diagnostic imaging provides a clear picture for your veterinarian of what’s happening inside your cat’s body when they’re showing symptoms, acting out of the ordinary, or in pain. Whether it’s an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI, diagnostic imaging is critical to providing a definitive diagnosis and determining treatment. If your cat needs diagnostic imaging, you may have turned to the internet to ensure it’s necessary and safe for your cat. At GeniusVets, we believe that pet care information should come from veterinarians and not online resources, especially with a sensitive topic. That’s why we’ve taken cat diagnostic imaging FAQs, sent these questions to renowned veterinarians across the U.S, and compiled their replies to get you helpful information that you can trust.

While we've sourced all of the cat diagnostic imaging information and recommendations below directly from leading veterinarians across the country, please make sure to seek out the advice of your own veterinarian or find a trusted vet near you using the GeniusVets Directory.

What is cat diagnostic imaging?

Cat diagnostic imaging is a non-invasive way to determine what is happening inside your cat, using images to help your veterinarian diagnose a disease or injury properly.

Diagnostic imaging on dogs includes:

  • Ultrasound
  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • CT Scan


How does the use of diagnostic imaging impact or help to determine health issues in my cat?


We use diagnostic imaging for many different things, including broken bones, intestinal blockages, heart issues, and much more. It confirms the source of the problem, the extent of it, and the treatment options. Diagnostic imaging provides veterinarians with images to make better, more informed decisions on how to move forward. In some cases, a veterinarian will start with an x-ray, and depending on what they see, will then proceed with an ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. If there continue to be questions surrounding the diagnosis, we may refer your cat to a larger facility or teaching hospital for an MRI or CT scan.

What are some possible conditions that are diagnosed using cat x-rays?

X-rays will identify various things with your cat, while other issues might need to be addressed with different diagnostic tests and/or equipment.

We use x-rays on dogs when the following are suspected:


How will a veterinarian decide that my cat needs diagnostic imaging?


Depending on the symptoms your cat is presenting, your veterinarian will determine the proper diagnostic imaging. For example, a leg that isn’t functioning properly will almost always result in us taking an x-ray. If we feel a palpable tumor in the abdomen, we will most likely proceed with an x-ray or ultrasound. A suspected heart issue usually results in an ultrasound. Since cats can’t communicate with you or your veterinarian, your veterinarian might choose to start with blood work, urine analysis, and/or an x-ray to begin ruling things out before proceeding with ultrasound or MRI. The goal is always to identify the problem as quickly as possible to relieve your cat and provide the most effective treatment.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of internal injury to my cat so important?

Early detection and diagnosis of any problem your cat is experiencing are always important, especially internal injuries since the full extent can’t be outwardly seen. The idea is to find the problem fast and treat it effectively. Whether it’s dental disease, a wound, or a broken bone, the faster it’s diagnosed and treated, the better the cat’s prognosis will be long-term.

Is diagnostic imaging safe for my cat?

Diagnostic imaging is safe for your cat and an incredibly helpful way to diagnose disease or injury in a non-invasive way. Your veterinarian will first assess the overall health of your cat before proceeding with diagnostic imaging. The information we gather is critical in developing an effective treatment plan and is painless for your cat regardless of the imaging type. Some types of diagnostic imaging, such as ultrasound or MRI, might require sedation since the test requires complete stillness.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) provides literature to help determine if your cat is in pain and might need diagnostic imaging to determine the cause of the pain. If you have further questions about diagnostic imaging, reach out to your veterinarian. If you don't have one yet, we can help you find a local veterinarian!