Can cats have organ transplants and how much do they cost?

Yes, in some cases. Kidney transplants were pioneered by the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis and are now performed at some other veterinary colleges around the country. They can cost $3,000 or more.

There are no other transplant programs for dogs or cats, though there was initial research on partial liver transplants.

Because there is no organ procurement program for animals, veterinarians have to use live donors that can survive donation of one of two kidneys. At Davis and other schools that have transplant programs, the school maintains a colony of donor cats, and the owner of a cat that receives a kidney has to agree to adopt the donor.

No need has been found for tissue matching in cats, and rejection of a transplanted kidney can easily be suppressed with cyclosporine. Without the drug, rejection occurs in about twenty-one days. The school at Davis also has a dialysis unit.

Cats with acute kidney failure, caused by things like poisoning, usually need three to four weeks of dialysis, costing $3,000 to $6,000.

In cats with chronic kidney failure, a few weeks of dialysis before a transplant makes success more likely.