Leukocytes count and profile during early postnatal ontogenesis in domestic cat: effect of litter size and multiple paternity.
Since blood cells count is the most important indicator of animals' physiological status, we investigated the effects of age, litter size, and multiple paternity on the total number of white blood cells, the number of their individual types (lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes), and the ratio of neutrophils to lymphocytes in domestic cat during early postnatal ontogenesis. The study was conducted on kittens living in outdoor conditions, aged from birth to 6 months. The number of white blood cells was evaluated using a hemoanalyzer, the leukocyte formula and the proportion of cell types were determined manually from blood smears. Age significantly affected the number of leukocytes in the first 3 months of kittens' age. The number and proportion of neutrophils were the highest after birth and gradually decreased during the first month. Lymphocytes number, on the contrary, increased during this period. Monocytes and eosinophils increased in number in the first 2 months. The litter size affected the number of leukocytes and neutrophils in the first 2 months of life, their number being significantly higher in kittens from the small litters than from the large ones. In kittens from the litters with multiple paternity, the number of leukocytes and the proportion of neutrophils was higher than in litters from a single male. Thus, age, litter size and type of paternity may affect the hematological indices in domestic cats, which must be taken into account during the estimation of the health status of kittens in domestic and wild cats.