Cats Saving Other Cats

Meet Sir Henry Snugglebutt, retired blood donor cat.

Sir Henry Snugglebutt


Sir Henry Snugglebutt is my best friend's cat. Lynn adopted Sir Henry Snugglebutt in 2015. Henry was 6 yrs old at the time and was getting ready to retire. He is now 12 years old and spoiled rotten. Henry had been a blood donor cat at the Atlantic Veterinary College based in Prince Edward Island, Canada since he was 2.5 years old. He helped save the life of many other cats. 

Sir Henry at AVC before his adoption

As long as I have known Lynn, she has always had a cat and she was looking to adopt. Lynn learned of the blood donor program and that some of the cats were retiring. That meant they needed a forever home. Turned out that Lynn and Henry had a lot in common. Lynn works in the Blood Bank Lab at one of the PEI hospitals where they provide blood for people needing a transfusion. Lynn and Henry were a purrfect match!

The Atlantic Veterinary College adopts cats from the local shelter for this program. The AVC requires that the cats be healthy, friendly, and have a calm temperament.

The Process

When the new blood donor cats arrive, they are quarantined for 8 weeks. During that time, blood tests are run for each life-saving cat to ensure they are healthy and have negative results for feline diseases. Therefore, the cats are able to provide blood transfusions with suitable hemoglobin levels to injured or sick cats. Without the donated blood, cat patients would have died.

Each cat's blood test also determines which Blood Group they are in.  Sir Henry and his 2 cat pals were Blood Group A.  A cat requiring a blood transfusion must be a match to that Blood Group. Cats have naturally occurring alloantibodies to red cell antigens and severe reactions can occur with type-mismatched transfusions.  Group A is the most common blood type in cats (approximately 73% of cats are A). Other blood types are B and AB.

With a light sedation, blood was drawn from Sir Henry's jugular when an immediate transfusion was needed, but never more often than every 28 days. This allowed time in between blood draws for Sir Henry's body to replenish that volume. The amount drawn is about 20% of their blood volume.

Care and Enrichment 

The blood donor cats were the responsibility of dedicated Vet Technicians while in their care.  Feeding them, cleaning up after them, and most importantly, providing attention and playtime. The cats were given plenty of time to roam around the room, look out windows, enjoy a sun puddle, and to interact with staff.  The cats participate in the program for 3 years.

Time to Retire!

When it was time for Sir Henry to retire, Lynn was interviewed to ensure it was a good match. Once Lynn was approved, she had to wait 3 months while the next group of blood donating cats went through their quarantine. Then, Sir Henry was able to go to his forever home!

To help Sir Henry with his transition into a new environment, Lynn did a few things to help him feel at home. She bought him a scratching post exactly like the one at the vet college so it would be familiar; before he came home she brought toys over and a hair brush to be in the cats' room to get all their smells on it. To this day his most favorite ball is one that came from their room. She also brushed all 3 cats, and then brought some of the combined fur home to place in Sir Henry's new cat bed. 

Sir Henry in his forever home

Happy Cat

"Henry walked out of the pet carrier when we arrived home, walked to the food bowl and had a snack, went and laid on both beds, both sofas, and checked out his toys and litter box all within the first 20 minutes or so,  as if he lived here his whole life. He almost immediately relaxed. I noticed it around the food right away that he was used to having to wolf down his food otherwise the other boys would get it. He enjoyed being able to pick at his kibbles at will with no pressure. He crawled up on top of me on the couch and had a cuddle and snooze right away. It was a joy to see how happy and at ease he was right away."

Sir Henry is a very happy boy, and loves his Mom very much.  He enjoys watching birds, having the occasional zoomies, and also watching videos on the laptop.  He always makes an appearance when Lynn and I FaceTime with each other.  He even watches my cats if he can see them.  Retirement is looking good on you, Sir Henry Snugglebutt!



all photos courtesy of Sir Henry's Mom


Want to Learn More?

By the way, dogs can donate blood, too.  If you are interested in volunteering your cat or dog to be a blood donor, be sure to do plenty of research to understand all that is involved.  Contact your own Veterinarian as well.  

For more information:

Interested in Volunteering Your Cat to Donate Blood? Click on the following link to learn more.

2021 ISFM Guidelines

ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Collection and Administration of Blood and Blood Products in Cats


Missed Previous Blog Posts?

Click on the link below:

Going Back to Work? How It Might Affect Your Cat



Going Back to Work? How it Might Affect Your Cat.

Going Back to Work? How it Could Affect Your Cat.

Photo by Sam Lion of Pexels

Cats love routine.  Just ask our 9 yr old, Rupert.  He can tell you when each of his meals are served.  He will also let you know if you are late, by knocking the tv remote off of the end table.

Gonna share, Mom?

More people are heading back into the office now that the Covid vaccines are available.  For some people, this will be an easy transition back to an old and familiar routine.  However, have you considered how this will affect your cat and its routine?

Cats are known for not liking change.  That's true for a lot of cats, but certainly not all cats.  When offices started closing down due to Covid this was a big change for people and everyone in their home. Including pets. Some people and their pets likely adjusted to the change of working from home rather quickly.  Others might not have.  

These were stressful times and still continue to be.  Cats can be very sensitive to change, but also to how we are feeling and dealing with things.  Unfortunately, this can often go unnoticed until your cat "tells you".  Meaning, their behavior changes.  Sometimes with unacceptable behavior. Hopefully, your cat was happy and content with having you home more often.  I also hope that you found some stress relief by spending more time with your cat.  

Now, with offices bringing people back, this is another change in routine for your cat.  But wait, isn't this just like when you are home on vacation or the weekend?  No.  Those are shorter periods of time, and most likely, your cat is used to the weekend routine.  Yes, vacation time might be longer than a weekend, and your cat might feel it needs to do some adjusting. But, not nearly the same as you being home for a year.

Your cat could have 2 different reactions when you go back to the office on a daily basis.

The first reaction would be that he or she will miss you! You might have spent more time cuddling or playing with your cat.  You might have slept in more and/or stayed up later.  Your cat likely adjusted to that new routine. 

I miss you!

Photo by Marko Blazevic from Pexels

Or, the other reaction is one of relief.  Yes, your cat might be happy to go back to the old routine, as much as he or she loves you.  Some cats prefer having more time to themselves and less noise or stress in the home.

Finally, peace & quiet again

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels

So, before you head back into the office on a regular basis (or if you have already), be sure to help your cat with this transition.


If you had been playing more often with your cat, continue to have fun play sessions when you are home.  You may have less time, but having a fun play session is a great way of spending time with your cat and sealing that ever so important bond.  Playing with your cat can also serve as a stress reliever for your cat (and you too!). Kind of like exercise can help people shed stress.  An active round of play can do the same for your cat.


Photo by Wendelin Jacober from Pexels

If you spent more time hanging out with your cat, cuddling, watching tv together, etc...  continue to do that as much as you can.  You can always scale back on that gradually, but please don't stop completely. 

Some cats might even experience separation anxiety, which could potentially cause behavioral problems such as not using their litterbox correctly. Try to spend quality time with him or her before and after work.  Try to do this at the same time of day each day, so your cat will know when to expect this special time with you.  

If you have not yet started working from the office, but know you will be soon, start the transition now with spending less time with your cat.  Go out for an hour or more each day, to give your cat more time on its own.  If your cat appears relaxed and has not shown any behavioral issues, reward him or her when you come back with a special tasty treat or extra cuddles. 

If there are other family members in the home, include them in the new/old routine. Your cat won't understand that you might feel tired or not up to playing with him or her as often as you were, so if others can fill in, that would be ideal.

If your cat is experiencing a change in behavior, please contact your Veterinarian to arrange for an exam.  If your Veterinarian rules out medical issues, please contact me at or fill out and submit the Behavior Consultation Form.