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Saving lives is in the blood for Superhero cats

By Glynis Quinlan - 23 June 2017 0

Supercat

Is your cat a Superhero? A new Canberra feline blood donor program is looking for cats willing to save lives!

The program started by the Canberra Veterinary Emergency Service (CVES) is thought to be one of the first of its kind in Australia. It follows on from the success of the CVES Canine Blood Donor Hero Program which started last December.

Already 15 cats of all shapes and blood types have put up their paws to be part of the program. Their owners (or captives) like the idea of helping save the lives of other treasured pets.

“People love being able to give something back to the community,” said CVES Director Taleta Hompas.

“They love the concept of their pets being able to save other pets’ lives.”

Ms Hompas said the plan is to get the new ‘CVES SuperCat Blood Donor Program’ off the ground slowly but she hopes they will be able to supply feline blood to other clinics within six months.

Once the program is working well, Ms Hompas hopes other veterinary clinics in different parts of Australia will follow suit.

“A lot of the big emergency clinics have a donor colony in-house,” Ms Hompas said. “We decided not to do that because outside cats can become involved.”

Up until the SuperCat program started six weeks ago, CVES was using staff pets if they needed to undertake in-house transfusions for feline patients.

Ms Hompas said that blood transfusions for cats are more difficult to do than for dogs, which means they are more likely to be done by emergency clinics.

She said that broadly speaking, dogs have 12 blood types and when a canine patient has its first blood transfusion it doesn’t matter which blood type is used – although it does for latter ones.

“Cats have three blood types – Type A, Type B and Type A/B. You have to be very careful. If you get it wrong they can die within a matter of minutes,” Ms Hompas said.

Ms Hompas said that in order to be part of the CVES SuperCat Blood Donor Program cats need to be:

  • more than two years of age and less than seven
  • more than five kilograms in weight
  • otherwise healthy with no pre-existing illnesses and not receiving medication
  • up-to-date with vaccinations including FIV (Feline Aids) or kept totally indoors if they haven’t been vaccinated for FIV
  • up-to-date with all worming and preventative veterinary care
  • of a willing temperament!


Cats becoming part of the CVES SuperCat Blood Donor Program will:

  • receive a full physical examination prior to every donation
  • have their blood typed (this is very important for cat blood transfusions)
  • be FIV (Feline Aids) tested
  • receive a bag of food for every donation.

Ms Hompas said that CVES has 40 donor dogs on its books and the system is “working beautifully”, with the donation process typically taking between about two to five minutes depending on the size of the dog. Bigger dogs tend to donate 500 ml of blood in this time.

She said the owners of dogs receiving blood transfusions are very appreciative. If the owner agrees, a card is sent to the donor dog along with a photo of the recipient saying ‘your pet has just saved this dog’s life’. Something similar is planned for the feline program.

Ms Hompas said the cats are sedated before they give blood as they tend not to be as compliant as dogs. Even though cats are much smaller than dogs, the donation process takes a similar time as only 50 ml is taken.

Anyone interested in signing their cat up for the SuperCat blood donation program should email blooddonors@cves.com.au with their contact details.

Top photo: Is your cat a Superhero?
Photos two and three: Canberra cats Jiggy and Teddy have both donated blood to the CVES.

Has your pet ever been in an accident or needed a blood transfusion? Do you think the CVES SuperCat Blood Donor Program is a good idea?

What’s Your opinion?


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