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New blood bank calls for cat and dog blood donors

Lucie van den Berg, May 29, 2018 7:00PM Herald Sun

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Kerry Bozicevic is joined by feline blood donor James. Picture: Jake Nowakowski media_cameraKerry Bozicevic is joined by feline blood donor James. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

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James is no scaredy-cat.

The fearless* feline* has become a blood donor, saving the lives of at least two precious* pets with each donation.

Even though there’s a saying that cats have nine lives, they still need blood transfusions* after an accident or surgery, or if they have a serious disease such as cancer.

A new cat blood bank is hoping to find enough cats to donate all the blood needed.

The life-saving facility is part of the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Animal Blood Donor Program, which includes blood supplies for dogs.

There are a small number of cat blood banks around Australia, including at the Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services and the Adelaide Vet Animal Hospitals.

Kerry Bozicevic and blood donor James. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
media_cameraKerry Bozicevic and blood donor James. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

U-Vet cat blood bank co-ordinator Kerry Bozicevic said they urgently need cats to become donors in their new blood bank so they have supplies available for emergencies.

“Previously* if we had to transfer blood immediately we would need to call in a donor and that meant a delay of several hours, which could mean the difference between life and death,” Ms Bozicevic said.

The new bank means blood can be stored.

The most common reason a cat needs a transfusion is rat bait poisoning, followed by blood loss from an accident or a medical condition.

Cats that donate blood are helping save lives. Here are some other clever things cats can do

All cats receive a free check up before they become donors.

They are sedated* and up to 50ml is taken from the jugular vein in the neck before the animal is given fluids and monitored*.

To become a donor a cat must be: healthy, aged 1-5, at least 4kg or more in weight, up-to-date with vaccinations* and parasite* control, have not previously had a blood transfusion and, for donations in Victoria, they must be a Victorian resident.

Check with your local vet whether your pet qualifies as a donor.

EXTRA READING
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Why cats could steal dogs’ jobs

Simon Bruggermann and his dog Harry both donate blood. They’re at The Adelaide Vet Animal Hospital. Picture: Tricia Watkinson
media_cameraSimon Bruggermann and his dog Harry both donate blood. They’re at The Adelaide Vet Animal Hospital. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

SOME PET BLOOD BANKS

  • U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital u-vet.com.au
  • Adelaide Vet Animal Hospitals adelaidevet.com.au
  • Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services cves.com.au
  • Perth Vet Specialists perthvetspecialists.com.au
  • University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Sydney uvths.com.au
  • Hobart Animal Hospital hobartanimalhospital.com.au
  • Darwin Veterinary Centre darwinvets.com
  • Animal Emergency Service (in Southeast Queensland) animalemergencyservice.com.au
  • The Australian Animal Blood Bank aabb.com.au

GLOSSARY

fearless: not afraid

feline: cat

precious: very important or valuable

transfusions: receiving blood

previously: before now

sedated: calm them or make them sleepy with a drug called a sedative

monitored: watched and checked

vaccinations: immunisations to prevent disease

parasite: bug that lives on another creature, such as fleas, lice and worms

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

QUICK QUIZ

1. How many pets can a single blood donation save?

2. What would vets do when they needed blood before there was a blood bank?

3. What do all cats receive free of charge before they donate?

4. How heavy does a cat have to be to donate?

5. Who should you ask to see if your pet qualifies as a donor?

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

The Australian Red Cross blood service has an ad campaign encouraging people to “Roll up your sleeve” to give blood and help others.

Create a slogan that’s suitable to encourage cat owners to allow their cats to be donors.

Use this slogan to create a poster to display at your local vet’s encouraging cat owners to check if their cat can become a cat-blood donor. Make sure your poster highlights why it is important to develop a cat blood bank and how it could help their own cat one day.

Time: Allow 20 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Ethical Capabilities

Extension: Imagine your cat (if you have one) was telling his/her cat friends about how he/she had donated blood. What would their version of events sound like?

Create a comic strip from a cat’s point of view about the procedure of giving blood. How would they interpret what had happened? You can make the cat’s retelling comical or it could be more serious but it should be based around the details included in the article.

Time: Allow 20 minutes

Curriculum links: English

VCOP ACTIVITY

With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS STORY

Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.

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