A blood transfusion from a cat abandoned in a dog waste bin has saved the life of a kitten left at death’s door by an infestation of fleas.

11-month-old Persian cat Bertie needed an immediate blood transfusion after being rushed to the Vets Now clinic in Gillingham.

With supplies of cat blood not stored, a live transfusion was the only possible option. Vet nurse Susan Porter, who had adopted Mr Hankey when he was brought in after being dumped in the bin, dashed home and brought him in to donate.

Thankfully, his blood turned out to be a match and after a middle of the night transfusion, the anaemia threatening Bertie’s life was brought under control.

He has now made a full recovery and owner Yvonne Evans is backing vets’ calls for more cat owners to be aware of the potential of donating lifesaving blood.

Bertie's heavy flea infestation

“Bertie had fleas when we got him and we’ve always struggled to get them under control despite regularly using over-the-counter treatments,” said Yvonne, from Gillingham.

“He usually hates getting a bath, but this night he wasn’t reacting at all and really wasn’t himself. Then we saw how many fleas he had and when he started crying, we knew something was badly wrong and we got him straight to the vets.

“He was in a critical condition, and it was a horrible evening of worry. I barely dared hope he was going to get better.”

The Vets Now clinic in Gillingham is one of more than 60 clinics and hospitals across the UK that are open seven days a week for out-of-hours pet emergencies.

A clinical examination when Bertie came in found white gums, a classic sign of anaemia, and a heavy flea infestation which was thought to be responsible.

Blood tests confirmed the seriousness of the condition and while an IV drip, oxygen and flea treatment were considered, he deteriorated quickly.

A blood transfusion was needed to save his life and vet nurse Susan rushed to get her own cat.

“Mr Hankey came into the clinic as a tiny kitten five years ago after being found in a park,” said Susan. “I felt sorry for him and adopted him after we’d got him back to health.

“Although he’s never given blood before, I immediately thought of him and went home to get him.

“When I got back and we did checks they both had blood type A, the most common one, so were compatible for a transfusion. It’s nice that Mr Hankey was able to help another cat after his start in life.”

A perfect match

The blood was given carefully over a three-hour period by vet Nuria Ribalaiga and Bertie’s condition improved so much he was allowed home just over a day later.

“It was miraculous how quickly he picked up and now he’s livelier than he ever was,” added Yvonne, who has now managed to eradicate the fleas. “I’m so grateful Vets Now were able to do what they did.

“I didn’t even know cats could get a blood transfusion like this and we were so fortunate that Susan’s cat was a match. I think more people should be aware of the need for donor blood.”

Charity Pet Blood Bank UK, which supports vets by providing blood donated by pet owners, currently collects and stores dog blood.

However, they are working on plans to include a blood bank for cats and owners who feel their cat may be a suitable donor can register them.