January 28, 2023

Severely Injured and Poisoned: Dog Blood Saves Cat’s Life

Severely Injured and Poisoned: Dog Blood Saves Cat’s Life

The ASPCA saves animals’ lives almost every single day, but Jellybean’s case was different from the start. The two-year-old tabby arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) in April with a severe neck wound caused by an embedded collar; his skin and tissue were growing over and around the collar and through the metal ring of the buckle.

Following a delicate surgical procedure, during which the embedded collar was carefully cut open and removed, the bright orange cat was named Jellybean for the Easter holiday just days away. After the operation, though, alarm set in. Jellybean continued to bleed from his surgery sites.

“Jellybean was at a crisis point,” recounted Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of AAH. “Clearly something was interfering with his ability to clot his blood, and his life was in imminent jeopardy due to profound blood loss.” The veterinarians at AHH determined it was likely that Jellybean had ingested rodenticide (rat and mouse poison) several days before.

As vets took steps to administer a blood transfusion to Jellybean, another crisis emerged: They had a difficult time ascertaining his blood type. “It was more challenging than we expected,” Dr. Murray said. “Using several feline blood-type test kits, we could not get a clear answer as to Jellybean’s blood type. There were indications he might be the rare Type B or the even more rare Type AB, but it was impossible to ascertain which. If we transfused him with the wrong blood type, it could be fatal.”

By now, ASPCA vets were dealing with a cat in critical condition whose blood type could not be determined and who desperately needed a blood transfusion. We were running out of time.

Severely Injured and Poisoned: Dog Blood Saves Cat’s Life

Veterinarians and intensive care staff gathered around Jellybean. “He was a sweet, young cat, and after all he had been through we surely didn’t want to lose him to rat poison,” Dr. Murray recalls. “We wanted to save him.” Thanks to some quick thinking, Dr. Murray and her staff were able to save Jellybean’s life with the transfusion of blood from a dog.

“It’s not something we recommend doing or routinely do, but if Jellybean was Type B, it was a better choice than giving him the Type A blood we had on hand, which could have had disastrous consequences.”

As the transfusion began, “You could have heard a pin drop,” Dr. Murray said. Within 15 minutes, “Jellybean literally came back to life. He sat up, his membranes regained color, he started to groom himself, and he even demanded a meal! The effects were astoundingly rapid.”

“I suppose you could say that he was in the right place for this kind of a crisis, because he was in an animal hospital with an intensive care unit,” Dr. Murray said.  “And it just wasn’t his time to go, not if we had anything to say about it.”

The staff was thrilled with Jellybean’s recovery. “He’s a great cat—playful and so affectionate. He likes to jump, dance, and run like a puppy. Now he’s got a second chance at life, and we hope it will be a long and happy one.”

Jellybean caught the eye of Shawn Dougherty, AAH Senior Director of Operations and Finance, who office-fostered the feline youngster while he was on the mend. Eventually, Jellybean won Shawn over, and he adopted him, adding him to his family of two other ASPCA cats, Leo and O.J., and two dogs. 

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Although Jellybean went through a harrowing ordeal, one thing remained constant from the moment her arrived to the day he was adopted: the support of people like you. Jellybean probably wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the generosity of animal-lovers all around the country, whose donations enable us to perform critical operations, rescues and rehabilitations every single day. Please consider making a gift to the ASPCA today to help us give more animals like Jellybean a second chance at life.

Severely Injured and Poisoned: Dog Blood Saves Cat’s Life