Why are blood donors needed? Blood donors are needed because sometimes cats can suffer from low red blood cells in the body (anaemia). This can happen for a number of reasons, such as trauma (e.g. being hit by a car) or illness. Without a blood transfusion some of these cats would unfortunately die.
Can any cat be a blood donor? Cats giving blood need to fulfil certain criteria:
Is there a blood bank for cats? Unfortunately we are not currently able to store cat blood and that is why having a blood donor list is so important. If a cat needs blood we need to be able to source another cat quickly.
What happens when cats give blood? Any cat becoming a blood donor receives a free physical examination from a vet and has blood taken to check their general health and to determine their blood type. They are also screened for the feline viruses (feline Aids and feline leukaemia virus). If all of this is fine then the cat can give blood. Cats can be blood type A (the most common), type B or type AB (which is the rarest). There is no charge for any of the tests.
When a cat gives blood, an area of fur is clipped on the neck and this is cleaned with a solution designed to kill skin bacteria. A cream or spray is applied to make the area less sensitive. Blood is taken with a needle into a syringe. Approximately 40-50 millilitres of blood is taken (about half a small tea cup). Some cats require light sedation for this procedure so that they remain still whilst the blood is taken.
How often can cats give blood? Cats can give blood once every 3 months. This allows their body time to replenish red blood cells between donations.
What benefits are there to being a blood donor? The cat giving the blood receives a free veterinary health check and blood test, as detailed above. After donation you will receive a free bag of cat food to take home with you. Many owners of blood donor cats find it a rewarding experience and feel very proud that they and their cat have played a part in saving a life.