Prevalence of naturally occurring non-AB blood type incompatibilities in cats and influence of crossmatch on transfusion outcomes

J Vet Intern Med. 2018 Nov;32(6):1934-1942. doi: 10.1111/jvim.15334. Epub 2018 Oct 11.


Background: Recognition of the feline red blood cell (RBC) antigen Mik and the presence of naturally occurring anti-Mik antibodies resulting in acute hemolytic transfusion reactions prompted the recommendation to perform a crossmatch before a cat's first RBC transfusion, but this guideline has not yet become a standard practice.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of naturally occurring non-AB alloantibodies detectable by tube crossmatch, and to compare transfusion outcomes in cats with and without a crossmatch performed.

Animals: Three hundred cats that received an RBC transfusion, with or without a major crossmatch performed.

Methods: Retrospective study.

Results: Major crossmatch incompatibilities were documented in 23 of 154 transfusion-naive cats (14.9%) and in 15 of 55 previously transfused cats (27%; P = 0.042). Type-specific packed RBCs (pRBCs) were administered to 167 and 82 cats with and without a crossmatch, respectively. Median volume of pRBCs administered during the first transfusion was 5.3 mL/kg (range, 2.4-18 mL/kg). Median change in PCV scaled to dose of pRBCs was +0.8%/mL/kg; administration of crossmatch-compatible pRBCs was not associated with a greater increase in PCV. Febrile transfusion reactions occurred more often in cats that received non-crossmatched (10.1%) compared to crossmatched (2.5%) pRBCs (P = 0.022). Seventy-six percent of cats that received pRBC transfusions survived to hospital discharge. A crossmatch was not associated with improved survival to discharge or at 30 or 60 days posttransfusion.

Conclusions and clinical importance: The prevalence of naturally occurring non-AB incompatibilities is sufficiently high to justify the recommendation to perform a crossmatch before all (including the first) RBC transfusions in cats.

Keywords: Mik antigen; crossmatch incompatibility; packed red blood cells; transfusion reaction.

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System*
  • Animals
  • Blood Group Incompatibility / epidemiology
  • Blood Group Incompatibility / veterinary*
  • Blood Grouping and Crossmatching / veterinary
  • Blood Transfusion / veterinary*
  • Cat Diseases / blood
  • Cat Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cats
  • Female
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • ABO Blood-Group System