Epistaxis (Nose Bleed) in Cats

Overview of Epistaxis in Cats

Epistaxis refers to bleeding from the nose. It is usually from damaged vessels in the nasal mucosa but can also be due to an increased fragility of capillaries or bleeding tendencies. Any cat breed can develop epistaxis and there is no gender predilection.

Below is a brief overview of the causes of nose bleeds in cats followed by detailed information on how the underlying cause is diagnosed and treated.

The bleeding may be acute (sudden) or chronic (long standing). How ill the animal becomes often is determined by the underlying cause of the nasal bleeding. It is important to determine if the bleeding is unilateral (one-sided) or bilateral (both nostrils) because some causes of epistaxis are associated with unilateral bleeding whereas others are associated with bilateral bleeding.

In cats, nose bleeds may be caused by:

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Epistaxis in Cats

Additional tests may be recommended if a diagnosis cannot be established from the previously described evaluations. These include:

Treatment of Epistaxis in Cats

Treatment is focused at stopping the bleeding. In addition, minimize stress for your cat. Sedation may be necessary to decrease excitement and agitation. The following may also help:

Home Care of the Cat with a Nose Bleed

Often a blood clot will form and the bleeding will stop on its own. Your veterinarian still should evaluate your cat, but an emergency visit probably is not required. Meanwhile, do the following:

In-depth Information on Nose Bleeds in Cats

Epistaxis or nasal bleeding is generally caused by either an acute (sudden) event, or by more insidious chronic problems.

Causes of Nose Bleeds in Cats

The most common causes of epistaxis in cats include:

Diagnosis In-depth

Many times a diagnosis can be made on the basis of a good history and physical exam. If the diagnosis cannot be established, then certain basic lab tests are indicated:

Your veterinarian may recommend that more specialized testing is needed to diagnose the primary problem. These tests may only be available at larger referral practices and include:

Treatment In-depth

Your veterinarian may recommend one or more of the diagnostic tests described above. In the meantime, treatment of the symptoms might be needed, especially if the problem is severe. The following non-specific (symptomatic) treatments might be applicable to some, but not all pets with epistaxis. These treatments may reduce severity of symptoms or provide relief for your cat. However, nonspecific therapy is not a substitute for definite treatment of the underlying disease responsible for your pet’s condition.

Follow-up Care for Cats with Epistaxis

Although it frequently looks like a lot of blood, the volume of blood lost during epistaxis usually is not life threatening. Rather, the epistaxis serves as an important marker of an underlying clinical condition that warrants further evaluation.

Often a blood clot will form and the bleeding will stop on its own. Your veterinarian still should evaluate your pet, but an emergency visit probably is not required. Except when caused by trauma, epistaxis in cats usually is a significant finding that often will recur if a definitive diagnosis is not obtained. Meanwhile, do the following: