Dog's Blood Saves Cat In Rare Procedure: Cat Gets Life-Saving Blood Transfusion From Unlikely Source

Dogs and cats are natural-born enemies with their instant disdain for one another in most cases. In this story, however, a dog's blood saves a cat in a rare medical procedure at the vet's office in Key West, Florida.

Dr. Sean Perry with the Marathon Veterinary Hospital had to urgently save Buttercup, an orange tabby cat. The incident that occurred on September 16 required some fast results in order for the cat to stay alive.

Due to a very limited supply of cat's blood, dog blood would mean the difference between life and death for this feline. He only had a 7 percent red-blood count and needed at least 35 percent, what cat's typically have. So a blood transfusion known as a "xenotransfusion" was performed on the feline when it was discovered he was anemic. It's an uncommon procedure that enables cats to make red blood cells after they're injected with dog's blood.

Buttercup's owner, Ernie Saunders, was told by veterinarians that it could take days or even weeks until cat blood would be shipped to the Middle Keys. Dog blood was already at the vet's office, and was a compatible type of blood to use for the kitty.

The transfusion was a four-hour procedure. The blood came from the West Palm Beach Dog Blood Bank.

Speaking with Keys Info, Dr. Perry explains why dog blood was used in the transfusion.

"It's a situation where you can't give type A blood to a type B blood cat because it'll cause a severe immune reaction. It was actually safer to give the cat dog's blood. It's a practice that's been used in the past but it's not common."

Dr. Perry adds that dog blood is far more plentiful for transfusions than cats. In fact, cats are the only animals that the vet is aware of that accepts blood transfusion from canines.

"Cat's blood is a little harder to come by and not as available as dog's blood. We had greyhound blood packs that we get from a blood bank that has red blood cells separated from plasma. Buttercup showed no signs of rejection during the transfusion."

The report further explains that the U.S. National Library of Medicine reveals only 62 cats have been recorded to have a xenotransfusion. After this transfusion, Dr. Perry says Buttercup's body would go into attack mode if he received anymore dog's blood.

Owners who are interested in having their cat or dog's blood donated for life-saving transfusions can contact the Animal Blood Register.

Saunders says Buttercup is more active since having the dog blood transfusion. He also takes steroids and antibiotics, and continues getting regular exams by the vet.

[Image via Keys Info]