A blood bank for cats! Maybe your next cat will be a retired blood donor!
Because I donate blood regularly at my local blood bank I wondered if there are blood banks for cats.
I learned that there are blood banks for animals, but most are dog blood banks and a few also have reserves of cat blood. Those banks which do are large operations and we aren’t so sure what happens to the cats when they “retire” from the blood draws because many of them do not have active adoption programs for retired donors.
But we found a blood bank just for cats and it won our hearts. Nine Lives Blood Services is the only blood bank for cats exclusively. They are a small, compassionate 2 person operation in Lansing, Michigan.
Nine Lives Blood Services was founded by Alice Parr because of her love for cats and their needs which often get ignored. She was a Licensed Vet Tech at the Emergency and Critical Care Unit at Michigan State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital for 30 years. Her co-founded is double degreed veterinarian and MBA, Kath Edsall.
Not only do they humanely collect and ship feline blood all over the US, they are active in finding forever homes for their retired feline blood donors and they are passionate about all things relating to cats.
Cats and have blood types too:
There are three blood types for cats – A, B, and AB. Here are some fun facts about feline blood types:
A: there is a higher incidence of this blood type in cats in the Midwest
B: there is a higher incidence of this blood type in cats on the East and West coasts
AB: is very rare. Alice Parr has seen only 3 cats with type AB blood in 30 years
A: is the blood type associated with mixed breed cats – or feline mutts
B: there is a higher incidence of this blood type of several pure bred cats, including British Shorthair, Rex, and Somali. Many of the cats in Australia are type B.
How does the blood bank acquire the blood?
Blood screening, the same policy as when people donate blood, is done to find ideal candidates. The cat must be free of 4 blood borne pathogens. They must also be FELV and FIV negative
The cats come from shelters and live with Alice for about 18 months in a closed colony. After 18 months the cats are returned to the shelter where they are put up for adoption. Nine Lives Blood Services are very active in feline adoption, particularly of older cats.
While the cats are in Alice’s care 45 milliliters or 3 Tablespoons of blood are drawn every 3 or 4 weeks. Are there any side effects? Alice tells us there are very few, but sometimes a cat won’t regenerate red cells quickly enough to donate every 3 weeks. Before taking the blood the cat is given a mild sedative and blood is drawn from a vein in the neck.
What we love about Nine Lives Blood Services is that Alice and Kath try to only use the cats for 18 months, which is unlike many other blood banks which might keep a cat until they can no longer give blood. Cat Faeries has a customer who adopted such a cat and the cat was under socialized and had a hard time adjusting to a house and home.
This would never happen to a cat who was in the program at the Nine Lives Blood Bank because their cats are well cared for and live with Alice personally. All of the cats come from the shelters and most adjust very well to life in the colony. They are group housed in large open runs with water fountains, climbers, resting perches, and lots of opportunity for play or hiding. Some of the cats come to them with shy or fearful personalities and they do their best to work with them…
When your cat might need blood:
Blood loss from an injury
Bone marrow disease
Feline FIV and FELV
Can a cat benefit from a dog’s blood?
Alice Parr tells us that it can be done, but that it’s extremely dangerous and the results can easily be fatal. We recently stumbled upon a video about how a dog’s blood saved the life of a cat. The reason we aren’t posting it here is that the cat was lucky. Most cats would not have survived the blood transfusion from a dog or from an animal of another species.
Is the blood of our domestic felines and the blood of the big cats the same?
Yes! Isn’t that a fun fact?
Can my cat be a feline blood donor?
Let’s picture the feline fantasy . . . .Madame Fluffy Tail holding out one manicured front paw while the attendant, Nurse Whiskers, draws the blood promising Madame Fluffy Tail a massage and a bowl of mouse pate’ to reward her for bravery and love for her feline brothers and sisters. But that’s all in fun. The reality is: probably not. Cats being cats they do require some mild sedation and it would be most likely be too stressful for everyone. But it’s good you want to help cats! You can do that by telling your vet and rescue groups about the good people of Nine Lives Blood Services.
When a cat retires as a blood donor at the Nine Lives Blood Bank
After a cat’s 18 month stay the cat goes back to the shelter for adoption. One of the pluses about adopting one of these cats is that they are used to being with a group of cats and thus might be an ideal addition to your multi cat household.
How the blood reaches your vet’s hospital:
The vet calls in the order and it’s shipped Fed Ex overnight
Tell your vet about Cat Blood Bank
Nine Lives Blood Services, PLLC
457 Lentz Court
Lansing, MI 48917
(517) 410-3350 mobile
(517) 367-6050 office
Fax: (517) 367-6052
Or Google: feline blood bank + the name of your state
Dear Reader, do you donate blood?
If you haven’t donated blood recently or have never done it and would like to, find your local blood bank and call today. You’ll give one unit of blood which will help one other person! I time my donations so that I’ve had a lot of water and a big breakfast, and so that I’m done before lunch time. You are required to sit in the canteen area for a period of time to rest and eat. I take my own water, chocolate bar, and food to the canteen because to me what they provide is really junky and full of gluten. And someone drives me home. The rest of the day is pretty mellow – no exercise, no hard work, a lot of reading and relaxing, and the best of all they tell you to eat hardily!