On hearing terrible howls from her 7-year-old cat, Rory, Kim Edwards of Tauranga in New Zealand rushed him to the veterinarian. Rory was limp and unable to move and quite “obviously in a lot of pain.” Tauranga Vets told Edwards that Rory had most likely swallowed rat poison and could likely die, unless he received an immediate blood infusion.
A cat’s blood can be type A, B or AB. Rory’s was unknown and, by the time Edwards had got him to the vet, the blood laboratory, which could have determined his blood type, was closed.
Receiving a transfusion of the wrong type of cat blood could be fatal for Rory. As time was of the essence and his life was hanging in the balance, veterinarian Kat Heller decided to take a huge chance and try a blood transfusion from a dog.
Cats lack pre-formed antibodies for dog blood and so have far lower chances of having a fatal reaction to a transfusion of it, says the Bay of Plenty Times.
Heller, who had never performed such a procedure, contacted an animal blood bank which told her that they had once carried out an inter-species blood transfusion successfully. Edwards than contacted a friend from her book club who quickly brought Maci, her black labrador, to the vet. With staff from the animal blood bank talking her through the procedure, Heller performed the inter-species transfusion.
She indeed had little choice, as she explains: “It was a ‘do or die.’… People are going to think that it sounds pretty dodgy — and it is — but hey, we’ve been successful and it’s saved its life.”
Helleter also notes that, should Rory’s body reject the blood from Maci, this would happen in about five days and give them time to figure out the cat’s blood type and get a blood match from a cat.
By all accounts, the highly unusual operation has been a success. Edwards comments that, prior to it, Rori had been “really flat and gasping and howling.” One hour later, he was purring and helping himelf to “a bowl of biscuits.” Overall, he was “a different cat” though, with a canine blood running through his veins, still very much his feline self. Says Edwards: “Rory is back to normal and we don’t have a cat that barks or fetch the paper.”
If it was rat poison that Rory indeed swallowed, it is important to ask how he encountered it. Earlier this year, economist Gareth Morgan caused a huge outcry when he called for the killing of cats in order to, he said, make New Zealand safe again for the numerous native species of birds whose numbers have dwindled.
As many have pointed out, killing cats is not the answer. As the blood transfusion for Rory has shown, cats and dogs can help each other out. We humans ought to follow their example and try a lot harder not only to be kind and, yes, humane to animals, but also to each other.
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