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Feline Blood Donors

Everything you need to know about feline blood donation

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Why is blood transfusion needed?

There are many reasons a cat might require a transfusion:

  • Anaemia due to a loss of red blood cells – which can be caused by an injury or illness
  • The body destructing its own red blood cells due to a variety of reasons
  • The body fails to produce its own red blood cells. This can happen due to a variety of different disease processes.

Download our infographic on Feline Blood Donation for pet owners

Cat Blood Groups:

Cats have different blood groups just like humans;

Cat’s blood types are:

  • A Most common blood type
  • B Less common blood type

AB – Rare blood type

If a cat requires a blood transfusion it is important that they receive a transfusion of the same blood type, otherwise, a potentially fatal reaction can occur.

Health check for potential donors:

Any cat that is potentially going to become a blood donor, will undergo a thorough health check by a veterinary surgeon, and some blood tests will be performed (to check blood cell counts, liver and kidney function, plus some infectious disease screening). We would also perform a blood type and a heart screen inclusive of an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) to check for any underlying heart problems.

Is your cat suitable to become a donor?

  • Between 1 and 8 years old
  • Weigh more than 4.5kg but are not overweight
  • Calm temperament (doesn’t mind being handled and doesn’t get overly stressed in a veterinary environment)
  • Not currently receiving any medications (except regular flea and worm treatment/vaccines)
  • Up to date on vaccinations and flea and worming treatment
  • Preferably an indoor cat
  • No history of ever receiving a blood transfusion
  • Has normal results on the bloods which are performed and no underlying health conditions
  • Tests negative for FeLV/FIV

Risks of blood donation:

Blood donor cats could require sedation during the donation of blood; like all procedures for which sedation is required, there is a small risk

If a cat has an underlying heart or kidney condition, sedation and the donation of blood can make this worse, therefore routine blood work and an echocardiogram will be performed at the initial health check prior to allowing your cat to be a donor.

What to expect on the day of donation:

You will need to withhold food for at least 6 hours prior to your appointment, allow full access to water

A thorough health check of your cat will be performed prior to the procedure

A catheter will be placed into a vein in your cat’s leg and a blood sample will be withdrawn to assess whether your cat is healthy to undergo sedation and donate blood

If your cat is given the all-clear to donate and sedation is required, sedation will be administered via the intravenous catheter (they will be monitored at all times)

Your cat will have some hair from the neck clipped and a catheter or needle will be inserted into a vein in the neck (jugular vein) from which the blood for donation is withdrawn. Approximately 40-50mls will be withdrawn at one donation session

Your cat will then be closely monitored whilst recovering from sedation and will receive some intravenous fluid therapy.

Once they are fully awake, they will be offered a small meal and water. As long as they recover well, they should be home to you within 3-5 hours after donation.

Monitoring at home

Post-donation procedure your cat may be a little quieter than normal but this should resolve within 24 hours; sometimes they can become more excitable but this usually resolves after a good sleep

They should be kept indoors for at least 24 hours or until they are back to their normal behaviours.

They may require a smaller meal than normal in the evening but should resume eating normally the following day.

If you have any concerns or worries after the donation session; seek veterinary advice.

Linnaeus Veterinary Limited trading as Davies Veterinary Specialists 01582 883950

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