What Are the Causes of Internal Bleeding in Cats?

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What Are the Causes of Internal Bleeding in Cats?
What Are the Causes of Internal Bleeding in Cats? (Image: Bethney Foster)

If your cat has internal bleeding, it is an emergency situation and you should seek veterinary care for your pet immediately. Internal bleeding is sometimes indicated by blood coming from the cat's body orifices --- but not always. If you cat has been hit by a vehicle, assume she has internal bleeding. Call your veterinarian, if at all possible, to say you are on your way to the clinic. The veterinarian can be prepared and begin treatment immediately upon your arrival. Gently transport your cat. Keep her quiet, still and warm. In addition to the internal bleeding, she is likely suffering from shock. Do not struggle with her because the internal bleeding is decreasing her body's ability to carry oxygen.

Causes

Internal bleeding is often caused by an injury, such as being hit by a vehicle, a serious fall or other trauma. Some poisons, especially those designed to kill rodents, can cause internal bleeding in cats.

Rodent Poisons

Anticoagulant rodent poisons are a common cause of internal bleeding in cats. The treatment for this type of internal bleeding is Vitamin K1, which must be given for as long as the poison is present at toxic levels in the cat's body. Treatment may take as long as four weeks.

Symptoms

Symptoms of internal bleeding include pale or white gums, rapid breathing, panting, lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, weak pulse and a reluctance to walk. The cat's body temperature may drop below its normal 100.5 degrees. Internal bleeding in the stomach will often cause a dark red color in the cat's vomit. Bleeding in the intestines will be indicated by a dark and tarry or bright red stool. The lungs may have internal bleeding if the cat is coughing up red, foamy mucus.

Treatment

When you arrive at your veterinarian's office, your cat will initially be treated for shock. Most importantly, the veterinarian will begin to provide your cat with oxygen and to replace fluids she may have lost with intravenous fluids or blood. Antibiotics will be given to prevent infection and other medications will be administered to ensure cellular health. Her urine output and blood will be monitored to ensure she is progressing. If progression doesn't occur, surgery may be necessary to repair the bleeding.

Emergency Preparation

If you are guardian to a cat, be prepared for emergencies, such as an injury or poisoning. Have your veterinarian's telephone number, the number of the nearest 24-hour emergency clinic and the National Animal Poison Control Center number--800-548-2423--near your telephone. Have a cat first-aid box prepared. Include gauze, bandages, cotton rolls, cotton balls, a thermometer, 3 percent solution peroxide, antibacterial ointments, activated charcoal tablets, grooming clippers to clean areas around the wound, tweezers and a blanket. Consider taking the Pet First Aid course offered by the American Red Cross to ensure you are prepared to care for your cat when an emergency arises.

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