If you’ve ever had a cat that disliked taking medicine, having its ears cleaned, or even being brushed, you know what a challenge it can be to try to hold them down without looking like you narrowly escaped from Freddy Krueger’s grasp.
Now imagine not only restraining a cat, but also attempting to draw blood from its neck. Students in at Globe University’s vet tech program aren’t exaggerating when they say this is one of the most difficult skills they have to complete.
Nevertheless, five students in Dr. Amy Humpal’s Animal Diseases course made the journey to the Coulee Region Humane Society (CRHS) to perform feline venipunctures on approximately ten cats.
While arguably the most challenging aspect, there is more to learning this skill than drawing blood. Students worked in teams with one student restraining the cat and the other attempting to draw the blood.
For students Robin McKeen and Krissy Mickelson, that teamwork was the high point of the day.
“We all worked together to make a difference in an animal’s health, as well as hopefully finding them a new home,” Robin said.
“I really enjoyed the bonding time we had outside of school,” Krissy said. “It’s really nice to be able to take our skills to a shelter and help animals in need.”
Teamwork was more than a warm, fuzzy feeling, however. Lorali Mickelson pointed out that each role determined the success of the procedure.
“If you don’t have a good restrainer, you’ll never get a good stick,” she noted.
Not only did the students need to restrain the cats, they also had to gain their trust. “The most difficult part was working with the shy cats, because some of them aren’t used to a lot of human interaction prior to coming to the shelter,” Krissy said.
Once the cat has been properly restrained, the students need to draw the blood from the jugular vein.
“The most difficult part of the procedure was finding the jugular vein,” Dakota Urben noted. “Also, the cats were not the most cooperative.”
Students practice this procedure to run blood tests that help determine a cat’s health. Justine Hickey explained what types of tests were performed.
“We test for feline immunodeficiency, feline leukemia virus, perform a CBC, and blood chemistry,” she said. “We look to see that there’s not any abnormalities with the blood and if we need to do further treatment.”
The CRHS may use these tests to inform potential adopters of any conditions or illness a cat may have.
“[The results] may be needed to adopt an FeLV/FIV positive cat to a specific household,” Dr. Amy Humpal-Hoscheit said. “And of course make sure it doesn’t spread to other cats at the shelter.”
In all, each student emphasized their care and concern for the health of the cats. “The highest point of the day was getting to do these tests for the shelter that they can’t always do,” Dakota said.
Since the ultimate goal for felines at CRHS is to find loving homes, Krissy felt these cats were on the right track. “Helping test the cats makes them much more adoptable,” she said.