Blood from a labrador has saved a cat in a "very, very uncommon" veterinary procedure.

Tauranga's Kim Edwards said she rushed her 7-year-old moggie Rory to the vet after she heard awful howls.

She said Rory was "obviously in a lot of pain", was limp and could not move.

On taking him to Tauranga Vets, Ms Edwards was told it was likely Rory had somehow eaten rat poison.


The prognosis was not good and she was told that Rory could die.

In a last-ditch effort to save him, Ms Edwards was given two options, one of which was a blood transfusion from another cat.

"We didn't have enough time to find another cat with a blood match, if the blood didn't match then Rory would have died," she said.

The other option was to do a blood transfusion from a dog.

"We were told that Rory would most likely reject the blood but we would have had about five days for this to happen, which meant we would have had time to find a blood match in a cat."

Ms Edwards said when she contacted a friend from her book club, who had a pet labrador, initially her strange request was not believed.

The scenario was dramatic, and Maci, the black lab, was rushed in for an emergency transfusion, she said.

Vet Kate Heller said Rory had eaten rat poison and wouldn't have survived without being given an immediate blood transfusion.


However, his blood type was unknown and using the wrong type would have proved fatal.
Inter-species blood transfusions were not common, nor recommended, Ms Heller said.

"It's not something we've done before, but it was one of those emergency situations where we didn't have any other options available.

"We didn't have much time, so we either had to do it and hope it would work or watch Rory die," she said.

"We phoned the animal blood bank in Palmerston North and they talked us through the procedure."

While the transfusion was not without risk, the owners were aware of what was involved and that Rory would die without it.

So there really was nothing to lose in going ahead.


"It was a 'do or die'.

"I've never heard of it before, but the guy at the companion animal blood bank said he's done it before with some success.

"People are going to think that it sounds pretty dodgy - and it is - but hey, we've been successful and it's saved its life.

"It's very, very uncommon," Ms Heller said.

Before the transfusion, Rory was "really flat and gasping and howling" and one hour later he was sitting up, purring and "tucked into a bowl of biscuits," Ms Edwards said.

"He seemed to be a different cat.


"The vets just went above and beyond ... it's incredible that it worked.

"Rory is back to normal and we don't have a cat that barks or fetch the paper."

Dog to cat blood transfusions
Cats don't have pre-formed antibodies for dog blood, so the chances of having a fatal reaction to it are smaller.

Blood from any young, healthy dog from a large breed was suitable.