Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blooding Typing Our Wild Ones!

Just like in humans, captive exotic wild animals sometimes require blood transfusions.  Unlike humans, dogs and cats, blood banks do not store blood for exotics such as tigers, lions, cougars, bobcats and servals.

Do wild cats have more than one blood type? Yes!  The AB system is the major blood group system in exotic and domestic cats. For all practical purposes, cats are considered to have two blood groups: A and B. The third blood group, AB, is very rare in cats. As with humans, when giving a transfusion, the blood groups must be matched otherwise the cat's antibodies will destroy the alien blood cells.
Cats with blood type-A have naturally occurring anti-B antibodies at a low titer and cats with blood type-B have naturally occurring anti-A antibodies at a high titer. 
Cats with the rare "AB" type do not have anti-A or anti-B antibodies and are thus universal recipients for blood transfusion. It should be noted that the nomenclature of cat blood groups is confusing; the "AB" type is not the result of presence of the A and B blood groups!

Interesting to note, there is not a lot of information available on the subject of “blood typing exotic wild cats” on the Internet.  There was one article, published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, in 1999 titled “The AB Blood Group System in Wild Felids” that published the study results of blood typing 131 exotics wild cats belonging to 26 felid species.  
The results were quite interesting:  80% of the wild cats were type-A, 18% were type-B, and only 2% were type-AB.  Cougars, African and Asian golden cats were type-B and the other species were found to be type-A.  Two cheetahs and one bobcat had the rare AB-type blood. 

So far, reports of exotic wild animals receiving or donating blood is rare (however there are a lot of reports of Charlie Sheen’s tiger blood quote on the web…go figure). We found two articles on the Internet that pertained to this particular subject:    Tiger Cub Receives Rare Blood Transfusion (2008) and Cougar Xavier is a One-Cat Blood Bank (1984). 
So why is blood typing important to In-Sync Exotics?  Well, if one of our wild ones requires a transfusion during surgery, for instance, it is important to confirm that both the blood donor and the recipient have the same blood types; otherwise the recipient’s antibodies will destroy the alien blood cells.  Medical reasons that may require a blood transfusion includes hemolytic anemia, cancer, and liver/kidney disease.  
In memory of Midas, we blood tests
all our cats.
Last year, we started blood typing our exotic cats.  The decision to blood type all the cats  was made shortly after Midas passed away.  Had we known his blood type prior to his death, we could have tried two alternative medical treatments that may have extended his life.   

So far, we have blood type tested all the tigers (except Abrams, Apollo, and Kaiya), three lions, three cougars, and both leopards.  Interesting to note, our non-native species (tigers, lions, and leopards) are all type-A and the cougars (native species) are type-B.  We are very curious to see what blood types our cheetahs and bobcats are as they may have the rare AB-type blood.
We will continue to test all the cats and record our findings in their medical records.  Hopefully, we will never have to use this information, but if we do, at least we will be prepared!
"I am blood type-A!"
 Oh, and on a quick side note, most domestic non-purebred cats in the United States are type-A.  Blood type-A and -B frequencies in domestic short- and longhair cats vary from country to country; some countries have only type A cats, whereas others may have as many as 50% type-B cats. Furthermore, blood type frequencies vary between breeds; for example the Siamese and some related breeds have only blood type-A, while other breeds may have as many as half and half As and Bs (eg, Turkish Angora and Van).
A Very Tiny Rescue

If you are an In-Sync Exotics' Twitter fan, you received a "tweet" yesterday morning about our latest rescue. 
Last week, we told you about our smallest rescue--a little baby squirrel.  Well, this week we have an even smaller rescued animal...
...a baby raccoon!
Details on this little guy or gal will be posted on Twitter!  So tweet with us @Insync_Exotics!  You can see more cute photos of this little baby raccoon on Twitter! 

Not twittering?  Well, you can read our "tweets" by clicking on our Twitter feed button found at the top of the blog page!

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  1. How do you draw blood on the big cats? What is the process to determine blood type once you have a sample?

    1. Greetings Nathan!

      We teach our cats to enter a vet chute and lay down so we can draw some blood. We start off by touching them with a paper clip, repeating the procedure, until they get used to the feel. In a very short time can take their blood from a vein in their tails. For the most part, they are pretty good about this procedure.

      We can also have their blood drawn when the exotic cats visit the vet!

      As to the process, we honestly do not know! The blood sample is given to the vet so he can blood type for us!

      Thanks for the great questions!

  2. Aw cool! I share the same blood type as Java & Jett! :D