Dog Saves Dying Cat With Rare Interspecies Blood-Transfusion
When a young, orange-colored cat named Buttercup arrived to Marathon Veterinary Hospital in Florida last month, he was so sick and lethargic it seemed he might not make it. Blood tests quickly determined that his red-blood cell count was life-threateningly low, and he stood little chance of surviving without an immediate blood transfusion.
The only problem was, Buttercup has Type B blood, whereas most cats in the United States have Type A.
"Type B blood is very, very hard to come by," Buttercup's veterinarian, Dr. Sean Perry, told The Dodo. "But you sometimes do run into cats that have Type B blood and the problem is, if you give a Type B cat Type A blood, they have a diffuse anaphylactic reaction and die shortly thereafter."
So, in hopes of saving his furry patient's life, Perry performed a rare, interspecies transfusion - replacing Buttercup's blood with that of a donor dog's. According to news site Keynote, the blood belonged to a greyhound who had donated it to a local blood bank for animals.
"In those cases, it's actually safer to give dog blood than to give cat blood, unless you have the Type B blood," says Perry. "The thing is dog blood can sustain them for a short period of time until you're able to get their body to work in the normal manner. We gave Buttercup the dog's blood to buy us more time, in order get him treatment for what we thought was going on with him."
Perry says it's still unclear what had driven Buttercup's red-blood cell count so dangerously low, but that since receiving the life-saving procedure, his readings are now back into the healthy range.
"Buttercup is doing fantastic. He responded quite well to the transfusion," says Perry. "The owner had noted a huge response to the transfusion and the medications we put Buttercup on. Buttercup's acting like a normal cat again."
It's fortunate that the cat's body is working properly after the treatment because such interspecies blood-transfusions are only effective once. After the treatment, Buttercup has now developed antibodies to dog's blood which would cause his immune system to attack if more were introduced.
As for unusual side-effects of the dog-blood transfusions, Perry insists there are none.
"No they do not exhibit any canine behaviors," he says. "However some of the staff members thought they heard him barking after the transfusion, but I was pretty convinced it was the small dog in the cage next to him."
To learn about how your pet can become a blood donor, potentially saving the lives of countless other pets, visit the Humane Society for more information.