A COPPLESTONE kitten has celebrated her first birthday just weeks after receiving a life-saving blood transfusion.

Fika was 10 months-old when her owner Tilly Roovers rushed her to Jonathan Wood Vets, worried that the cat was lethargic and had gone off her food.

Tommy was Fika’s blood donor.
Tommy was Fika’s blood donor. (J Wood Vets)

She had also developed the unusual behaviour of licking paint off the kitchen walls. 

At the vet practice in Barnstaple Cross, Crediton, the young cat was examined by vet and clinical director Lizzy Linney, who found the much-loved pet’s heart was pounding and her gums were white rather than salmon pink, which are both signs of anaemia.

A blood test confirmed that Fika had a very low number of red blood cells and she was dangerously anaemic.

The pet was given an emergency blood transfusion to give her the best chance of recovery, with Lizzy’s own cat, Tommy, donating the blood. 

Veterinary Surgeon Lizzy said: “Fika was very poorly because her immune system was attacking and destroying her own blood cells. 

“The condition was life-threatening because without a healthy blood supply to take oxygen around her body, it was putting her at risk of organ failure. 

“To replenish her supply of red blood cells, we gave her a blood transfusion, which is something we only do in cats in the most serious cases. Cats can often reject donor blood, so transfusions are not as common in felines as they are in dogs.

“We took the blood from our own cat, Tommy, because he was readily available in an emergency and I knew he was a suitable donor because he’s in good health. It’s the second time Tommy has saved a life by being a blood donor.”

Fika’s blood transfusion took five hours and she was kept under close observation at the vet practice overnight, with fluids administered intravenously to support her recovery.

She was also given steroids to suppress her immune system and stop it attacking her red blood cells, and she may need medication long-term.

Lizzy added: “The transfusion went well and next morning Fika was much brighter, although she was still pale and weak. She continued to improve over the following days, and it was lovely to see her happier and eating well again. 

“After she went home, Fika continued to come in for regular blood tests to monitor her condition, and despite all the vet visits she remained the most loving and affectionate patient. She’s won a place in the hearts of the whole team at Jonathan Wood Vets and her purring was infectious.”

Fika has now celebrated her first birthday at home in Copplestone with her owner Tilly Roovers and children Avie, seven and Jenson, five.

Mrs Roovers said Fika fell ill just weeks after her husband, Ronald, passed away from a rare form of cancer.

The family originally thought Fika’s strange behaviour was grief but became increasingly worried about the pet as her condition deteriorated.

Mrs Roovers said: “One of the strangest things was that Fika started licking patches of paint from the walls. Lizzy explained this was because her body was craving nutrients that her blood wasn’t supplying her body with. 

“It was very worrying how poorly she was, and after going through an unbearable time with my husband’s illness, we were terrified we were going to lose Fika, too. She is so special to us and when my husband was having chemotherapy, she would sit by his side for hours while he gained comfort from stroking her.

“I owe it to the team at Jonathan Wood Vets for saving her life and giving her such good care and it’s incredible that Lizzy donated her own cat’s blood to make Fika well again. It’s hard to believe that within a few days she was back to her normal self, and being a playful, mischievous kitten again.

“It would have been heartbreaking to have lost Fika, and having her back home with us has changed the mood and we’ve been all been able to smile again.”