Most cats vomit from time to time, often because they ate something that didn’t agree with them or need to get rid of a hairball. If your cat vomits once or twice but seems fine otherwise, you can keep an eye on them. However, when there’s blood in your cat’s vomit, taking a “wait and see” approach can be dangerous. In this article, we will explore why blood shows up in cat vomit, when to seek emergency vet care, and what could be causing this issue.
What Does Blood in Cat Vomit Look Like?
Bright red blood in cat vomit will certainly grab your attention, but sometimes, blood can be hard to identify. It may appear as a small streak of pink or light red mixed with mucus, water, or other material. Blood clots in vomit are usually darker and resemble gelatin. In some cases, blood that has been sitting in the digestive tract for a while may look like coffee grounds. Regardless of its appearance, blood in your cat’s vomit typically indicates an issue in their upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine. However, respiratory diseases or injuries can cause cats to swallow blood from their nose or coughed up, leading to vomiting.
How Serious Is it When a Cat Throws Up Blood?
Vomiting blood is never normal for cats. It is crucial to consult a veterinarian to determine if this is an emergency situation or if your cat can wait to be seen. To help you determine the urgency, here are some general guidelines:
See a veterinarian immediately if your cat experiences:
- Large amounts of blood
- Severe vomiting
- Apparent abdominal pain
- Weakness or lethargy
- Altered level of awareness
- Severe diarrhea
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Any other worrisome symptoms
- Cat is “high risk,” including kittens, pregnant cats, or cats with underlying health problems
Call a veterinarian for advice if your cat experiences:
- A very small amount of blood
- Infrequent vomiting
- Your cat appears comfortable
- Normal activity
- Bright and alert
- Mild diarrhea or no change in stool
- Normal appetite
- Your cat seems to feel okay otherwise
- Your cat is a healthy adult with no underlying health issues
Why Is Your Cat Throwing Up Blood?
Cats can vomit blood for various reasons. Here are some of the most common causes:
- Chronic Vomiting: Cats with a history of vomiting episodes may have underlying health issues that irritate the GI tract and cause bleeding.
- Foreign Body: Cats that swallow bones or any other objects that get lodged in or damage the mouth, esophagus, stomach, or small intestine may vomit blood.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Severe IBD can damage the GI tract lining, leading to bleeding.
- Cancer: Benign and malignant cancers in the GI tract can damage blood vessels, and cancer outside the GI tract can also cause GI bleeds.
- Kidney Disease: Cats with kidney disease frequently vomit, and the vomit may include blood due to GI tract irritation or ulcers.
- Bacterial, Viral, and Fungal Infections: Infections like panleukopenia and salmonellosis can damage the GI tract lining and cause bleeding.
- Blood Clotting Disorders: Diseases or poisonings that prevent normal blood clotting can lead to GI bleeding.
- Drugs and Toxins: Certain drugs and toxins can cause GI ulcers or hinder blood clotting.
- Postoperative Complication: GI bleeding and blood in the vomit can result from gastrointestinal surgery.
- Shock: Conditions that result in very low blood pressure and shock can damage the GI tract and cause bleeding.
- Brain Injury or Disease: Conditions increasing pressure within the skull can stimulate the vagus nerve, leading to bleeding GI ulcers.
- Liver Disease: Chronic vomiting and alterations in blood clotting can result from liver disease.
- Swallowing Blood: Cats may become nauseous and vomit blood after swallowing blood from a nosebleed, oral injury, or respiratory disease.
How Do Vets Diagnose Vomiting Blood in Cats?
To determine the cause of a cat vomiting blood, veterinarians will ask a series of questions, such as:
- Has your cat been diagnosed with any health problems?
- Has your cat experienced any recent traumas or surgeries?
- Does your cat take any medications or have access to drugs or toxins?
- Has your cat eaten anything unusual or encountered anything outdoors?
- When did the vomiting first start? Was it sudden or gradual?
- Was blood present from the start, or did it appear later?
- What other symptoms does your cat have?
After gathering information, the vet will conduct a physical examination to look for clues and may perform additional tests such as blood work, x-rays, ultrasounds, endoscopy, or tissue biopsies.
How Do Vets Treat Cats That Are Vomiting Blood?
Cats that are vomiting a significant amount of blood may require intravenous fluids or blood transfusions to stabilize them. In some cases, endoscopy or surgery may be necessary to stop the bleeding. Once the cat is stable, treatment will focus on addressing the underlying problem. This may include medications to reduce stomach acid secretions, coat ulcers, stabilize blood clots, or surgical intervention to remove bleeding tumors or foreign bodies.
Remember, it is crucial to take blood in cat vomit seriously. Seeking prompt veterinary care increases the chances of a positive outcome for your cat.
To learn more about cat health and wellness, visit Katten TrimSalon.