A domestic cat from New Brunswick’s capital city of Fredericton is being hailed as a hero after his blood donation saved the life of a sick baby bobcat.
The wild animal was brought to the Douglas Animal Hospital late in the evening on Dec. 27 after she was found in a barn in very bad condition.
“The cat was clearly not well,” said Dr. Nicole Jewett, a veterinarian at Douglas Animal Hospital.
The hospital regularly works with the Atlantic Wildlife Institute by taking in wild animals, assessing them, and doing treatments before returning them to the institute for further rehabilitation and release.
Upon arrival, the female juvenile bobcat was very weak and dehydrated, Jewett said. “Her temperature was so low it couldn’t even read on the thermometer. The veterinarians weren’t sure what happened to the bobcat, but sprang into action trying to heal her.
They started treatment with IV fluids, and she did well for about 24 hours before she “took a turn for the worse,” Jewett said. “She was lethargic and almost in a comatose state.”
The veterinarians did bloodwork and found that she was anemic and had issues with her kidneys. They put her on a new medication and she improved slightly in the next 24 hours, but they knew something else had to be done.
“So we decided, let’s try a blood transfusion,” Jewett said.
Smuckers saves the day
The animal hospital’s wildlife technician contacted the Fredericton SPCA asking for them to send over some cats who might be able to donate blood.
“Whether you’re a domestic cat or a bobcat, it’s still feline, they have similar blood types, so it’s a compatible match,” Jewett said.
That’s where Smuckers, a four-year-old white and orange domestic cat, comes in.
Annette James, the director of operations for the Fredericton SPCA, said they were able to provide three cats to the hospital so they could find a match for the baby bobcat.
“And, luck of the draw, Smuckers was the hero,” she said.
Smuckers, who she described as “really sweet” and “really cuddly,” had only arrived at the shelter a couple of days prior after his previous owner passed away.
“It’s a phenomenal story because his coming to a shelter was not planned or scheduled,” James said.
“But the fact that he was able to pay forward and help out another fur baby — even though (she’s) a wildlife fur baby — that’s a tremendous legacy for Smuckers to move forward with.”
James said it’s not uncommon for vets to borrow cats from the SPCA for blood transfusions.
“When shelters can help out with this sort of situation, it’s just a win-win,” she said.
“I call it a collaboration of community. If we all pitch in, we all do a little bit, it makes a big difference — not only for domesticated animals, but for wildlife as well.”
Both Smuckers and the bobcat had Type A blood and the transfusion was a success.
Now, the baby bobcat —who the veterinarians dubbed “Fiona” — is doing “really well,” said Dr. Jewett, and they hope to be able to return her to the Atlantic Wildlife Institute this weekend.
“She’s acting like a bobcat should. So she’s hissing, she’s growling, if you go near her she will try to attack you, because that’s what they do to humans, because it’s a fight or flight response with wild animals,” Jewett said.
“Clearly right now, she’s fighting. Which is great. This is fantastic. We love it when wildlife try to attack us because that means they feel good.”
And Smuckers has a happy ending of his own. James, with the Fredericton SPCA, said shortly after his blood donation, adoption inquiries began pouring in and he now has a new forever home.
“He’s doing absolutely fantastic. (His new owner) adores him, she loves him to the moon and back,” she said.
“All the pieces just came together, and it’s lovely when that happens.”