Blood transfusions are a life-saving treatment in cases of severe anaemia. Plans transfusions are also utilised to treat conditions such as acute pancreatitis and parvovirus. Just like people, dogs and cats have several different blood types so typing and cross matching is performed prior to a transfusion to minimise the risk of allergic reactions.

We are very lucky to have a Pet Blood Bank in the UK, a charity which collects and distributes canine blood products within the UK. There is no equivalent service for cats, so for our feline patients we rely on finding an available donor cat.

We do have a small register of feline donors as in an emergency finding a suitable donor is sometimes not possible.

All our donor cats are thoroughly examined by a veterinary surgeon to ensure they are healthy enough for the procedure. A blood test is performed to check their vital organ function, and to make sure their own red cell count is high enough to allow donation. Cats do require sedation in order to donate blood, so there is a small element of risk involved even if all the pre-sedation checks are normal. They are given intra-venous fluids during and after the procedure to replace the donated volume and maintain their blood pressure, and – just like people! – given plenty of snacks afterwards!

Due to the sedation aspect, volunteering your cat to be a blood donor should take some consideration. Our donors’ welfare is always a priority, they are carefully monitored throughout the procedure and into recovery, and with the safeguards we have in place it would be rare that a donor suffers any complications, but that remains a small possibility.

If you think you would like your cat to be assessed as a possible donor, please call us to discuss the process further.
Feline blood donor requirements:
– between 2 and 9 years of age
– greater than 5kg lean body weight
– neutered
– regularly vaccinated
– regular parasite preventatives are being administered
– negative for FIV and FeLV
– negative for Mycoplasma infections
– no history of prior infection with Mycoplasmas
– ideally an indoor cat
– in good health
– not on any medication (except anti-parasiticides) at time of blood donation
– no history of previous blood transfusions
– no heart murmur or known heart disease
– must not have travelled outside of the United Kingdom

Additional requirements for outdoor cats:
– not been in a cat fight within the last 6 months
– annual testing for FIV, FeLV and haemotropic Mycoplasmas

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