A Florida cat managed to hang onto one of its nine lives after receiving a life-saving blood transfusion from an unlikely donor — a dog.
Buttercup was admitted to Marathon Veterinary Hospital in Marathon, Fla. last month when his owner noticed the year-and-a-half-old cat was unusually lethargic, had lost his appetite, and had even collapsed, said Dr. Sean Perry, the veterinarian who performed the transfusion. His vets soon determined that Buttercup’s red blood cell count, or packed cell volume, was dangerously low, and the animal needed a blood transfusion — fast.
There was no cat blood immediately on hand, and it would have taken 24-48 hours to get some, Perry said — longer than Buttercup could afford to wait. “A mammal typically has a packed cell volume of anywhere between 35 and 50,” Perry said. “But Buttercup came in with a packed cell volume of seven.”
Luckily, the hospital had a supply of donated dog blood on hand. Like some humans, some dogs have a universal blood donor type which is compatible with any other blood type, which is what Perry gave Buttercup. Interspecies transfusions, or xenotransfusions, are uncommon but not unheard of, Perry said — Buttercup actually isn’t the first cat on record to get a blood transfusion from a dog. But that being said, they haven’t been thoroughly researched, so they typically aren’t recommended.
Perry also warned that you can only perform a xenotransfusion once. After that, the body builds up antibodies against the foreign cells. “If you reintroduce those same type of cells into the body again, the body would go on attack mode and break down all those cells and potentially have a severe anaphylactic reaction,” Perry said.
Hopefully, Buttercup won’t be needing any more transfusions. The dog blood did the trick, and he’s back at home and doing just fine.
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