How many lives has your cat saved today?
Blood products are a life-saving resource for injured and critically ill patients. From cancer, anemia, and clotting problems to a traumatic incident, blood and plasma can be a crucial part of a pet’s treatment. Feline blood has a small window of viability and cannot be stored or “banked” like human blood, so it is vital to have a network of donors ready when a situation arises. The need for feline blood donations has never been greater, and VREC is seeking volunteer cats to add to our blood donation roster. Cats who meet our blood donation requirements receive an exam, bloodwork, and blood typing at no cost. The process is relatively short, and each time a cat is called on to donate they receive a tasty meal and lots of love from the staff. As a way of thanking the owners for being committed to the health of our clients, a monetary stipend will be awarded every time their cat donates.
Donor Process Information
How to become a donor:
To become a donor, a cat must satisfy all our basic requirements:
- Owner commitment to be part of the donor program for (minimum) two years
- Indoor only
- Weighs at least 10 pounds (4.5 kg)
- Between 1 and 8 years old
- Up to date on vaccines and can provide documentation of current rabies & feline distemper vaccinations
- No previous plasma or blood transfusions
- Tolerant when being handled
- Pass a physical exam performed by a VREC clinician
If all basic prerequisites are met, cats receive an examination by a VREC clinician to ensure they are healthy. If the exam is normal, thoracic radiographs (chest/torso) will be taken and blood tests performed. Blood tests ensure the donor has no underlying diseases, checks levels of white and red blood cell counts, and also tests for blood type.
Blood typing is important for the compatibility and safety of the recipient. Cats who are administered the wrong blood type are put at a much higher risk for an adverse reaction. The exam and all tests performed to qualify for the program are completed at no cost. Regardless of outcome, test results will be shared with owners and their veterinarian.
Types of blood products:
Blood drawn from a donor is called whole blood. Whole blood can be administered as-is, or it can be separated into packed red blood cells, plasma, and platelets.
Red blood cells are the cells which carry oxygen around the body. These are often used for chemotherapy patients, parasite infestations, and anemic cats.
Plasma is the fluid component of blood which carries the red blood cells around. The major protein in plasma is albumin, which helps retain fluid and can help pass chemicals and hormones around the body. Plasma is administered to patients with clotting concerns and pancreatitis.
Platelets are very small cells in the blood which help with clotting. They prevent extended periods of bleeding after an injury.
Blood donor procedures:
When a cat is called on to donate blood, they will be sedated and the blood draw site will be clipped and cleaned. Sedation is for both the safety and comfort of your pet. Blood is drawn from the jugular vein on the neck using a sterile needle and is collected into a sterile bag. The donation process takes place in our treatment area and is closely monitored by our veterinary staff. Once the donation is complete, the donor will receive fluids to ensure their blood volume and pressure are at appropriate levels. They are also offered a tasty meal for energy and are given lots of love from our staff for a job well done!
Risks associated with donation:
As long as a cat passes the aforementioned tests and exams, risks to a donor cat are low. However, despite taking all proper precautions, any intervention carries a small risk. Potential complications from donating are uncommon, but can include rash, sensitivity at the clipping site, or sensitivity to the anesthetic used.
While VREC’s clinicians perform exams and pertinent tests prior to the donation, low blood pressure may occur during the donation. This could make previously undetectable heart conditions noticeable.
To be part of the VREC blood donor program, owners must commit to the program for at least two years of potential donations, pending any major health concerns with the donor cat. If at any time your pet experiences complications during the donation process which may increase the risk of complications in the future, our veterinarians may discharge your pet from
To remain eligible for the program, all cats part of the program must have an annual health screening at VREC. This screening, provided at no cost, is to ensure both the health and wellbeing of the donor as well as for the safety of the recipient. Cats in the program must also continue to have routine veterinary care and must stay current on vaccines and preventives. Financial responsibilities of routine care are at the expense of the owner. To ensure the health and safety of our blood product recipients, donors will be removed from the program if there is a lapse in care.
Completed applications can be hand-delivered or mailed to 318 Northern Boulevard, Clarks Summit PA 18411. Applications can also be faxed to 570.587.7793.
Applications are also available at our facility 24/7.