Close-up of a cat's paws. his cat may be able to get a blood transfusion or give a cat blood donation

Cat Saves Cat: All About Cat Blood Donation

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North Queensland vet Graham Lauridsen recently made the news when he called on cat parents to register their feline friends for cat blood donation. He says that having access to blood supplies during an emergency cat blood transfusion can be the difference between life and death for a cat in need.

We’re pretty sure you’ve never considered pet blood donation to help other pets, but now might be the time. After all, your fur friend could be saving the life of another fur friend in need!

Below we look at what you need to know.

Happy cat in her owner's arms. This cat may be able to give a cat blood donation

Why would a cat need a blood donation?

So, first of all… When are cats in need of a blood transfusion?

Much like us, cats mainly need blood when they’ve lost a significant amount of their own blood, like in a car accident or if they’ve had surgery. (PS: Here’s what to do if you hit an animal while driving). Receiving donated blood from a compatible donor can be life-saving.

Also, cats with certain bleeding disorders, such as haemophilia or Von Willebrand disease, may need blood transfusions to help control and manage their bleeding episodes.

In other cases, cats with severe anaemia may need blood to help replenish their red blood cells. The donated blood gives them vital components like those red blood cells, which help carry oxygen throughout the body. Blood transfusions can help stabilise their condition, improve their energy levels, and support their overall health.

Generous blood donors play a crucial role in providing the necessary blood supply for transfusions. Their donations can make a significant difference and give cats a second chance at life.

Close-up of grey cat. This cat may be able to give a cat blood donation

Can your cat donate blood?

So now you know a few reasons why cats require blood transfusions. If you think your cat would make a good blood donor, here are some requirements they’ll have to meet:

Health and temperament

Cats must be healthy, have a good temperament and be up to date on their vaccinations. They should not have any underlying health conditions. Check out the pet vaccinations schedules in Australia first.

Age and weight

Cats typically need to be between 1 and 8 years old and weigh at least 4.5 kilograms to be eligible for donation. However, these requirements may vary between different blood banks or veterinary clinics.

FIV and FeLV negative

Cats must test negative for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). These tests help ensure that the cat blood donation is safe for the recipient.

No previous transfusions

Your cat shouldn’t have received a blood transfusion themselves in the past.

Calm and cooperative

Your cat should be the purrrfectly chilled kind. No, seriously, you need a cat with a calm and cooperative temperament as the donation process requires them to stay still during the procedure.

Indoor cat

Though it’s not compulsory, vets generally prefer indoor cats as they generally carry fewer diseases than outdoor cats. Check out this piece where we explain indoor vs outdoor cats. Having said that, you might want to read about why pet insurance is worth it for your indoor cat regardless.

Reach out to your local veterinary clinics or animal hospitals for further information on cat blood donation opportunities in your area.

How does the blood transfusion work?

When it’s time to donate, your cat will get a physical exam and blood tests to make sure they’re fit and ready. The blood is usually collected from their neck while they’re sleepy or under anaesthesia.

After the donation, the blood is separated into different parts, like red blood cells and plasma, and stored until it’s needed for other cats.

Why is there a shortage of cat blood?

Simply put, the shortage of cat blood happens because there aren’t enough cats donating blood! As mentioned, cats that can donate need to meet specific requirements, like being healthy and having the right blood type. However, there aren’t many cats that fit these criteria and are available to donate.

Another reason for the shortage is that many cat parents don’t know that their cats can donate blood or understand why it’s important. Unlike dogs, which are more commonly known for donating blood, the idea of cats donating may be unfamiliar to people.

Additionally, the process of donating cat blood can be more complicated compared to dogs. Cats often need to be sedated or put under anaesthesia during the donation, which can make it more challenging for veterinary clinics or blood banks to do it.

By raising awareness about the benefits and importance of feline blood donation, we can help increase the number of potential donors and lessen the shortage!

cat and dog lying in grass together. Dog insurance for young dogs can save you a fortune

Can dogs donate blood to cats, and vice versa?

Generally, cats and dogs can’t receive each other’s blood. Each species has specific blood types and within each species there are further variations. Matching blood types is crucial to ensure a successful transfusion.

For cats, the blood types are categorised as A, B, or AB. Dogs have different blood types, such as DEA 1.1, DEA 1.2, and so on.

However, there have been rare cases where a cat has successfully received blood from a dog. In 2013, a vet in New Zealand saved the life of a cat that had eaten rat poison by giving it a transfusion of dog’s blood. Rory the cat was going to die without immediate action and there was no time to wait. See the video below:

How much blood can a cat donate?

A typical blood donation from a cat usually amounts to approximately 10% of their total blood volume. Cats have a blood volume of about 60 to 70ml per kilogram of body weight. The amount of blood collected during a donation depends on the specific guidelines and requirements of the veterinary clinic or blood bank.

It’s important to make sure that the cat’s health and well-being are not compromised by excessive blood collection, so the volume collected is carefully managed.

Can humans donate blood to cats? 

No, humans cannot donate blood directly to cats. The blood of different species, including humans and cats, differs in various ways, such as blood type and compatibility. Therefore, transfusing human blood into a cat could result in severe reactions and potentially life-threatening complications.

Calico Cat stares ahead. This cat may be able give a cat blood donation

How often can they donate blood? 

Cats can generally donate blood every three to four weeks. The specific frequency may vary depending on the guidelines of the veterinary clinic or blood bank. It’s important to allow a good amount of time between donations for the cat’s body to replenish the donated blood cells and recover fully.

Regular health checks are done before each donation to ensure your cat is in good condition and able to donate safely. The health and wellbeing of the cat always take precedence, so the donation frequency is planned with their best interests in mind 😊

Should blood donating cats be kept separate from others?

Yes, it’s recommended to keep blood-donating cats separate from other cats, especially after the donation process. After donating blood, a cat may experience temporary weakness or have a compromised immune system. Keeping them separate from other cats helps reduce the chances of transmitting infections or diseases that could be more easily spread when the immune system is temporarily weakened.

Moreover, blood-donating cats may have unique healthcare requirements and undergo regular screening for diseases and bloodborne pathogens. Separating them from other cats helps maintain the integrity of their blood supply and prevents potential cross-contamination.

Insurance for your furry hero

At PD, we’re all about covering your cat’s kaboose during an unexpected accident or illness. We’re an award-winning brand that offers month-to-month, value-rich insurance to pet parents across Australia.

Why not get a cat insurance quote today? With no lock-in contracts on our monthly plans and free period of insurance when you sign up online, what do you have to lose?

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