Cat blood donors wanted to save lives

December 8, 2016

Murdoch vet Dr Jill Griffiths taking a blood donation from a cat

Murdoch vet Dr Jill Griffiths taking a blood donation from a cat

The Animal Hospital at Murdoch University is seeking caring cat owners willing to volunteer their pets to make life saving blood donations.

The Animal Hospital’s existing blood supply can sometimes come under pressure because of the high demand for feline blood to help sick cats requiring transfusions.

Cases requiring transfusion are on the increase at The Animal Hospital. To safeguard the supply, the clinic has set up a Community Blood Donor Program.

In many cases the blood is used to treat cats with anaemia, a life threatening condition which can be caused by blood loss due to trauma, infection with blood parasites or decreased red blood cell production due to kidney failure.

“Having some additional cat blood donors in our pool of cats owned by staff, students and the public will help to ensure we always have blood available when our patients need it,” said Dr Claire Sharp, senior lecturer in veterinary emergency and critical care.

“Ideally the cat donors need to be at least 5kg, healthy, fully vaccinated and between one and eight years old. We also like to meet potential donors and their owners beforehand to assess their health in more detail, do some blood tests and learn more about their temperament.”

Dr Sharp added the donation procedure requires cats to be anaesthetised for the collection procedure.

“It will involve dropping your cat off to us in the morning and collecting your cat at the end of the day,” she said.

“This procedure, while safe, does carry inherent risk because of the anaesthetic. Our experienced team monitor for complications before, during, and after donation.

“Donation can occur between three and five times per year if your cat is available.”

Animal Hospital client Kim Burke decided to volunteer her ginger rescue cat Harry for donations after nearly losing him to blood poisoning.

“The Animal Hospital made him all better. I'd like to think that his blood can help Murdoch save other cats like Harry,” she said. “It’s also been a great way to show our kids how blood donation can help others.

“Harry’s donated once so far and we will donate again after 12 weeks. After donating he came home, hopped out of the crate and carried on like nothing had happened. We were warned that he might be tired or off his food but apparently it takes more than a little blood donation to slow Harry down!

“I would recommend the blood donation service because it's easy. The recovery is fine and the cat doesn't suffer in any way, the staff are friendly and take great care of them. It was a nice surprise at the end to be given a bag of cat food as a thank you. At over 8kg Harry loves his food!”

If you are interested in volunteering your cat for blood donation, contact Michelle Rouffignac, The Animal Hospital’s Blood Bank coordinator on 1300 652 494 / CommunityBloodBank@murdoch.edu.au.

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