OMAHA, Nebraska (Omaha World-Herald) — Who says dogs and cats can’t get along?
A 6-year-old husky mix named Bret Michaels donated blood Monday at the Nebraska Humane Society to a kitten with flea anemia, likely saving the feline’s life. Pam Wiese, a spokeswoman for the shelter, said the transfusion from canine to feline “is not super common” but happens from time to time.
“Transfusions (to a cat) from a dog can be done once,” Wiese said. “That gives the kitty time to build antibodies.”
The medical procedure’s necessity became apparent while medical staff were inspecting three month-old kittens that had been brought in as strays. The cats were dirty, cold and covered with fleas.
After bathing the kittens, staff noticed one of the trio seemed “wobbly, weak and lethargic,” according to a social media post.
“These symptoms, combined with the state he was in, all pointed to one thing: flea anemia,” the post said. “For adult animals, a flea infestation might only affect a small percentage of healthy red blood cells in the body. But for this tiny guy, the impact was far greater.”
Cats don’t have the luxury of a universal donor type such as the Type O blood used by humans. Transfusing the wrong blood could have dire consequences, and veterinarians decided the kitten couldn’t wait for testing to be done to determine a suitable feline donor.
Canine to feline blood donation is a process known as xenotransfusion, Wiese said. While it’s not a permanent solution, it gave the kitty time to build antibodies.
Bret Michaels, named for the rock singer, was a good donor candidate because he recently came to the shelter and had bloodwork done. Soon after the transfusion, the as-yet-unnamed kitty started showing signs of improvement and is now resting with his siblings.
Wiese said staff at the Humane Society gave Bret Michaels “a round of a-paws” for being such a calm and brave boy. She also lauded the veterinarian team for its quick thinking.
After reading about the husky’s heroics on social media, a family reached out to cover his adoption fee. The only cost to his adopter would be $5 for a microchip transfer into their name and licensing fees where applicable.
“Our staff is just the best,” she said. “They do everything and anything they can for our animals.”
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