Call for donors: cats to help other cats at new feline blood bank

A new feline blood bank is being launched at the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Animal Hospital in Werribee.

U-Vet’s ability to store cat blood for life-saving transfusions means the animal hospital now meets the highest standards for feline emergency and critical care.

Veterinarians are calling for owners to volunteer their cats as blood donors to provide urgently-needed transfusions for other felines.

Blood Donor Program co-ordinator Kerry Bozicevic said cats require emergency blood transfusions in the same way humans do.

“If a cat loses blood due to trauma, surgery, immune system diseases, cancer or has a blood clotting disorder, it may require a blood transfusion to survive and to return to a meaningful life,” Mrs Bozicevic said.

“Time is critical when in need of a life-saving blood transfusion, and having blood products readily available may make all the difference.”

Each blood donation is separated into its red blood cell component and its plasma component. This allows the most efficient use the of blood donation, with red blood cells given to those cats with a very low red blood cell count, and the plasma component given to cats that are bleeding due to blood clotting issues.

“One blood donation can potentially save the lives of two cats,” Mrs Bozicevic said.

The U-Vet Feline Blood Bank collects blood from cats kept as pets and volunteered as donors by their owners.

Donating cats need to be:

  • between 1 and 5 years of age
  • 4kg or more in weight
  • healthy and with a calm temperament
  • up to date with vaccinations and parasite control
  • a Victorian resident (never travelled out of the state) and already not a blood transfusion recipient

All possible donor cats are tested to ensure that it is safe for them to donate blood and that the blood is of the highest quality. In the blood bank, red blood cells can be stored for 35 days. Plasma can be stored for up to three years.

For more information and to donate:

Enquiries and more information

or email UOM-Blood-Donor-Program@unimelb.edu.au

U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital is home to one of the first centres for veterinary emergency and critical care in the country. Its emergency room is staffed to see sick pets 24 hours, every day of the year, with about 5000 patients annually.

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