PET PAGE

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PET PAGE 828 1472 The Flyer Magazine

Mocca the Cat

While entry to our clinic may have been restricted during Level 4, our teams were kept very busy treating urgent cases from all over the Wakatipu Basin. One such case was handsome boy Mocca, the Bengal, who was seen as an emergency one evening for collapse.  He was extremely pale and blood tests showed that he was anaemic and most likely suffering from a condition called Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA).  IMHA occurs when the immune system sees its own cells as foreign and tries to destroy them.  Mocca’s red blood cells were being attacked.  He was critical and urgently needed a blood transfusion.

While we perform blood transfusions on dogs quite regularly at Remarkable Vets, it is much more rare to perform a blood transfusion in cats.  One of the reasons for this is because cats have only a few blood types and are more at risk of having life threatening transfusion reactions. There is also risk to the donor cat due to their low blood volume.

Unlike in humans, feline blood banks are not readily available in New Zealand and so the best way to get blood products is by obtaining fresh blood from donor animals.  Mocca lives with his sister, Popcorn, who is most likely the same blood type as him, but she was just too small to safely obtain enough blood to save her brother so we chose to perform a quite unusual procedure called a Xenotransfusion. We transfused blood from a dog to a cat!!

The earliest reported Xenotransfusions’s were in 1667 by a Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Dennis, physician to King Louis XIV.  More recent literature has proven that giving dog blood to cats is a legitimate consideration in emergency situations where compatible feline blood is not available.

Mocca the Cat

Our brave donor dog was gorgeous Xava, Vet Nurse Anna’s rescue greyhound (usually seen sleeping like an angel behind the reception desk).  Once we collected the blood, we were able to transfuse this very slowly over 8 hours with Vet Nurse Hannah monitoring Mocca vigilantly for any signs of transfusion reactions.

While a Xenotransfusion is lifesaving, dog blood has a short lifespan in the cat’s body and Xava’s blood only served as a temporary measure to raise the blood count until the treatment for IMHA took effect and Mocca’s own red blood cells were restored.

Thankfully, Mocca’s health improved significantly over his week in hospital and he was able to be discharged to recover at home with his sister and devoted owners.  We are really happy to report that Mocca is back to his normal mischievous self, his red blood cell levels are improving and we aim to taper him off his medication soon.