Cats possess a single primary blood group system that contains three cat blood types. These are type A, type B, and type AB. It is essential to know and learn these blood types as it plays a huge role in cat breeding and blood transfusion.
What makes up these three blood types?
The three blood types are identified through the cats’ genetics. One has to discern the blood type gene the feline has in every duplicate of its chromosome. This lone pair of genes is commonly accountable for identifying a cat’s blood type.
This blood type may contain one or the other two type A genes. It is dubbed as homozygous for having two exact alleles of a particular gene.
Type A is considered the most common cat blood type. It makes up 94% to 99% of every domestic longhair and shorthair cats. There are a handful of cat breeds that may comprise the blood type A with a low possibility of type B.
Just like type A, this cat blood type can have either two types of genes. However, this time it is a type B gene. This blood type is also classified as homozygous.
Type B makes up almost the remaining percentage left. It is widely common in some breeds whilst scarce in others. There are over seven cat breeds that potentially have a moderate frequency of type B cats.
For this cat blood type, it contains one copy of type A gene and type B gene, wherein type A is totally dominant over type B. It is considered heterozygous since type AB has two varying alleles.
Type AB is considered to be very uncommon. Therefore, AB type cats are quite uncommon. There are a few cat breeds with a high density of this cat blood type.
However, it is important to note that the designation of these three blood types may vary in various locations and countries. Therefore, this must only serve as a guide.
What are the methods used to identify the blood types?
There are numerous methods available that can aid a pet owner in identifying their cat’s blood type information. It can be done through laboratory setting, or the pet owner can do their feline’s blood type testing on their own.
Diagnostic laboratories use the application of serological techniques that deals with testing the blood serum in order to detect the existence of antibodies against a particular antigen. The methods used are based on the agglutination reaction. It is characterised by the antibodies crosslinking the particles to form visible clumps.
Genetic testing is an alternative option. Through the use of buccal swabs, this type of method is able to distinguish type A from type B. However, it is unable to differentiate type A and type AB.
Pet owner’s side
Card-typing system is available for pet owners who want to blood type test their feline friends on their own. However, it is important to note that types AB and B results must be authenticated by a referral laboratory. This is due to the cross-reaction that is said to happen.
Why is it important to know a cat’s blood type?
By knowing the blood type of a feline, there is a good chance that a pet owner can save a feline’s life in times of crisis, most specifically death. There are two scenarios that may possibly happen to a domestic cat where a pet owner can apply their knowledge about a cat’s blood types. These are neonatal isoerythrolysis (NI) and cat blood transfusion. The latter can be avoided and the former can be life-saving when a pet owner knows their cat’s blood type.
Neonatal isoerythrolysis (NI)
It is a genetic complication that is immune-mediated, which can afflict both humans and cats. NI is characterised by immune eradication of red blood cells due to the cat blood type incompatibility of both the kitten’s parents. The incompatibility happens when a type A tomcat mates with a type B queen.
This genetic problem caused several cases of neonatal deaths in a few purebred catteries, where the breeding cat’s blood types are undocumented and fading kitten syndrome, which is a chain of lethal symptoms that can lead to a rapid decline of a kitten’s health. A survey in the UK about kitten mortality rate shows that most deaths that happen during the perinatal period are caused by NI.
The best pre-emptive measure a pet owner can do against NI is to know the specific blood type of their cat and its potential mate. This is to refrain from forming an incompatible mating pair.
RELATED: Cat Breeding Guide
Cat blood transfusion
Blood transfusions are essential to cats that are suffering from anaemia caused by rapid loss of blood. Determining a cat’s blood type is very important before performing the procedure. This is to prevent cat blood type incompatibility that may lead to lethal health risks for the feline.
Type AB cats can be transfused with type A or type B blood. This is due to their bodies not having any antibodies for the other two types of blood.
On the other hand, type A cats who receive type B blood may experience light incompatibility reactions. It is characterised by abnormal rapid breathing and heart rate and restlessness.
Lastly, type B cats that are transfused with type A blood can develop a critical hemolytic transfusion reaction. The feline may suffer the symptoms of irregular heartbeat, excessive salivation, vomiting, urination and defaecation, and neurological disorders. If further complications occur, it would likely result in death.