September 2009 Issue

Feline Blood Donors: Life-Saving

Here’s what you should know about this gift of life.

Blood can be the gift of life not just for us, but also for our cats. "A cat suffering severe injury or trauma may require blood transfusions," says Marjory Brooks, DVM, associate director of the coagulation section at Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory. Other indications for transfusion include surgical complications and anemia caused by autoimmune disease, renal failure, chemotherapy, parasites in the intestinal tract or fleas. "Young kittens are especially at risk for blood-loss anemia caused by flea infestation," explains Dr. Brooks. Cats that need plasma proteins to combat liver disease, clotting problems or rat poisoning may also require a transfusion. Qualified Donors. Just like human donors, feline donors are required to take a battery of tests prior to giving blood — and not every cat qualifies. One qualification is weight: A donor cat usually weighs from 10 to 12 pounds. "The bigger the cat, the less risk of hypotension (low blood pressure) after donation," says Dr. Brooks.

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