Bleeding in cats can be from superficial wounds or indicative of a larger problem, and it often warrants a trip to your veterinarian. Either way, it's best to determine the source of your cat's bleeding and strategize for a temporary solution as you head to the emergency room.
What Causes Bleeding in Cats
Common areas for bleeding in cats and potential causes include the following:
- Bleeding from the skin. Bleeding from the skin is commonly caused by a bite wound, but can also be a laceration, skin infection, or be caused by excessive itching.
- Oral bleeding. Blood in your cat's drool or anywhere in the oral cavity can be the result of an infection, a bad tooth, trauma, ulceration, or an underlying blood clotting issue.
- Urinary bleeding. Bloody urine can be caused by a feline urinary tract disease (also known as feline idiopathic cystitis), urinary tract infection, bladder cancer, trauma, or due to a clotting abnormality.
- Vaginal or uterine bleeding. Vaginal bleeding can be caused by a normal heat cycle, uterine infection (also called pyometra), trauma, or a clotting abnormality.
- Nasal bleeding. A cat nose bleed can be caused by trauma, a tumor in the nasal cavity, or from an infection. Another possible cause is from an upper airway infection, which is very common in cats.
- Vomiting of blood. Blood in your cat's vomit can be the result of blood in the intestinal tract from a tumor, ingestion of foreign material, clotting abnormality, or from swallowing blood.
- Bloody stool. Blood in a bowel movement can be caused by bleeding into the intestinal tract from a tumor, infection, a gastrointestinal foreign body or inflammatory disease (commonly Inflammatory Bowel Disease).
- Rectal bleeding. Bleeding from the rectal area can be caused by an infected or ruptured anal gland, a tumor, infection, or inflammatory disease.
- Bleeding into the chest cavity. Bleeding into the chest cavity is most often caused by trauma or toxin exposure to items like rodenticide.
- Bleeding around the heart. Bleeding around the heart, also known as “pericardial effusion,” is caused by heart disease, cancer, clotting abnormality, or unknown in origin.
- Bleeding into the abdominal cavity. Bleeding into the abdominal cavity is most often caused by trauma, such as being hit by a car or toxin exposure, such as ingestion of a rodenticide, that causes bleeding.
- Eye bleeding. Blood in or around the eye can be caused by an injury, a bite wound, cancer, or infection.
Tips on How to Stop Bleeding in Cats
The ability to stop bleeding in cats depends on the location of the wound and underlying cause of the bleeding.
Here are some tips that may help:
- Bleeding from the skin. A small scratch that causes bleeding can be treated by gently cleaning the area with warm, soapy water, and antibiotic ointment. A bite wound will require wound care consisting of cleaning, shaving the hair, and lancing an abscess, if one has formed, pain medication, and antibiotics. Deeper lacerations may require sutures. If your cat has a deep wound, gently apply pressure with a clean towel and seek veterinary assistance.
- Abdominal or chest cavity bleeding. Cavitary bleeding cannot be treated at home and requires immediate veterinary care. Signs may include pale gums, lethargy, weakness, increased respiratory effort, and a distended abdomen. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and may include a blood transfusion or surgery.
- Nasal Bleeding. If your cat has a nose bleed, try to keep them quiet and calm while you seek veterinary care. The treatment will be determined by the underlying cause. If your cat has a cut on their nose, the bleeding should halt over time. Cats with infections or tumors will often continue to have intermittent bleeding, and infections can be treated with antibiotics. Bleeding is sometimes only noticed when your cat sneezes and can be common in cats with severe upper respiratory tract infections.
- Urinary bleeding. If you notice blood in your cat's urine, call your veterinarian, especially if you have a male cat. Male cats are prone to urinary obstruction secondary to feline idiopathic cystitis and bloody urine may be the first sign of a urinary obstruction. It is a medical emergency if your cat is unable to fully empty their bladder and in pain.
- Rectal bleeding. If possible, examine the rectal area to see where the blood is coming from on your cat. It can be hard to determine if the blood is actually coming from the rectum or a nearby area. Regardless, the best thing to do is to have your cat evaluated by your veterinarian.
- Bloody vomit or diarrhea. There are potentially serious and even life-threatening causes of bloody vomit or diarrhea. Seek veterinary treatment immediately.
- Skin bruising. A minor bruise from an injury can be treated with time, but it can't hurt to present the wound to your veterinarian.