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Emergencies in cats are common and when they happen, it is important to know basic skills of what to do. A cat bleeding is a common reason for cat owners to seek help at a veterinary clinic or veterinary emergency clinic. There are many different causes of cat bleeding and therefore various treatments and outcomes. Below we will review the causes of cat bleeding and what you can do at home to stop bleeding.
What Causes Bleeding in Cats
There are dozens of causes for a cat to bleed. The cause will differ based on the location of the bleed and each potential cause will have a different set of diagnostic tests, treatment options, and prognosis.
Common areas for cat bleeding and possible causes include the following:
- Bleeding from skin – The most common cause for bleeding from the skin is from a bite wound which is common in cats but can also be caused by a laceration (cut), skin infection, or from itching. This can also occur on the face from a wound secondary to a tooth root abscess. Learn more about Bite Wounds in Cats and Abscesses in Cats.
- Oral bleeding – Blood in the drool or anywhere in the oral cavity can be the result of an infection, a bad tooth, trauma, ulceration, tumor, or an underlying blood clotting problem.
- Urinary bleeding – Bloody urine can be caused by a feline urinary tract disease (also known as feline idiopathic cystitis, painful bladder syndrome or feline urologic disease), urinary tract infection, bladder stones, bladder cancer, trauma, or due to a blood abnormality.
- Vaginal or uterine bleeding – Vaginal bleeding can be caused by a normal heat cycle, uterine infection (also called pyometra), cancer, trauma, or a bleeding abnormality.
- Nasal bleeding – A bloody nose can be caused by trauma, a tumor in the nasal cavity, an infection, or from a blood abnormality. Another possible cause is from an upper airway infection which is very common in cats.
- Vomiting blood- Blood in the vomit can result from bleeding into the intestinal tract from a tumor, infection, ulcer, cancer, ingestion of foreign material, a systemic bleeding problem, or from swallowing blood from oral bleeding.
- Bloody stool – Blood in the bowel movement can result from bleeding into the intestinal tract from a tumor, infection, a gastrointestinal foreign body, or inflammatory disease.
- Rectal bleeding – Bleeding from the rectal area can be caused by an infected or ruptured anal gland, a tumor, trauma, infection, or inflammatory disease.
- Bleeding into the chest cavity – Bleeding into the chest 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.
- Bleeding around the heart – Bleeding around the heart, also known as a “pericardial effusion”, is caused by heart disease, cancer or an unknown cause referred to as “idiopathic”. This is relatively uncommon in cats.
- Bleeding into the abdominal cavity – Bleeding into the abdominal cavity is most often caused by trauma, such as being hit by a car or a gunshot wound, toxin exposure such as ingestion of a rodenticide that causes bleeding, or cancer.
- Eye bleeding – Blood in or around the eye can be caused by an injury, a bite wound, cancer, or infection in or around the eye.
- Bleeding in more than one location – Bleeding from more than one area can occur for several reasons. Possible causes ingestion of Mouse or Rat Bait, trauma that injures more than one area, or from an immune-mediated disease that alters the body’s ability to clot blood. Learn more about bruising and bleeding in cats.
Tips to Stop Bleeding in Cats
When your cat is bleeding, you often want to know what you can do to stop the bleeding. The answer to this question really depends on the location and underlying cause of the bleeding. Below are some tips that may help:
- Skin bleeding – What you can do at home will depend on the cause. A small scratch can cause bleeding and can be treated by gently cleaning the area with a little warm soapy water, hydrogen peroxide, and some antibiotic ointment. A bleeding bite wound most likely will require wound care consisting of cleaning, shaving the hair, pain medications, and antibiotics. Deeper lacerations may require sutures. If a deep wound is bleeding, the best thing you can do is to gently apply some pressure. You can do this with a clean towel if over the sides or you can use paper towels and some tape to wrap a leg. Please be careful not to get bit. Seek veterinary help.
- Abdominal or chest cavity bleeding – There is nothing you can do at home to stop bleeding that is occurring internally in the abdomen. Signs may include pale gums, collapse, lethargy, weakness, increased respiratory effort, and/or a distended abdomen. This is an emergency that needs immediate veterinary care. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause but may include an antidote blood transfusion and/or surgery. A blood clotting medication often given at veterinary hospitals is called Yunnan Baiyao, also known as Yunnan Paiyao, Yunnan Bai Yao, or by the literal translation Yunnan White Drug. This drug is fascinating as it is a protected traditional medicine originating in China that has hemostatic (blood clotting) properties. It is famous for its use in the Vietnam War to stop bleeding by the Vietcong. Learn more about Yunnan Baiyao for Cats. No prescription is needed to purchase Yunnan Baiyao.
- Nose bleed – If your cat has a nose bleed, keep your cat quiet, calm and seek veterinary care. The treatment will be determined by the underlying cause. If your cat has a cut on his nose or if he has bumped his nose, the bleeding should halt with a little time and some rest. Cats with infections or tumors will often continue to have intermittent bleeding. 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. Learn more about Epistaxis (bloody nose) in Cats.
- Urinary bleeding – If your cat is having bloody urine, call your veterinarian. It can be difficult to tell if a cat is straining if he or she is “blocked” and can’t go or empty and just in pain. Please see your vet. Learn more about life-threatening Feline Urinary Obstruction.
- Rectal bleeding – If possible, examine the rectal area to see where the bleeding is coming from in your cat. It can be hard to determine if the blood is actually from the rectum or near it. 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 for these symptoms.
- Skin bruising – A minor bruise from an injury can be treated with time. However, bleeding in multiple areas should warrant an immediate call to your vet.
- Bleeding in or near eye – Keep your cat calm and protect the area from being rubbed or scratched by another cat. They can do a lot of damage. Use an E-collar if you have one and seek help from your vet.
- Multiple bleeding or bruising areas – If your cat is bleeding from multiple areas – consider it an emergency. See your vet immediately to help you identify the underlying cause and best treatments.
We hope these tips help you know more about cat bleeding.
Additional Articles that May be of Interest About a Bleeding Cat:
- How to Prepare for a Cat Emergency
- How to Protect Your Cat from Choking
- What to Do if Your Cat is Unconscious
- How to Prevent Cat Dehydration
- Bruising and Bleeding in Cats
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in Cats (CPR)
- How to do the Heimlich on Your Cat
- What is an Emergency Vet?
- A Day in the Life of an Emergency Veterinarian
- When Should You Call the Emergency Vet Hotline?
- What is Pet Insurance?
- How Does Pet Insurance Work?