Don’t take a cat vomiting blood lightly. Contact your vet as soon as possible. Here’s what else to know and what to do about a cat that vomits blood.
Even a perfectly healthy cat will vomit from time to time, so vomiting shouldn’t be an automatic cause for alarm. You may even find your cat shedding hairballs occasionally , especially if your kitty is continually grooming . However, a cat that vomits blood is a different story.
Normal vomiting of a cat versus a cat that vomits blood
“Many cats vomit at times,” says Richard E. Goldstein, DVM, DACVIM, of the Animal Medical Center in New York. “But I don’t think a cat owner should tolerate it at all, certainly not if it happens more than once a week.”
One symptom that can accompany a cat’s vomiting, and which should be of great concern to all cat owners, is a cat vomiting blood. This guarantees a trip to your vet immediately because it could mean that your cat is suffering from a life-threatening health problem. This is especially true if the vomiting has persisted for more than three days.
A cat that vomits blood (called “hematemesis”) is a sign of a gastrointestinal disorder or some other form of bleeding . The blood may be bright red and streaked, or dark in color like coffee grounds. Regardless of appearance, a cat vomiting blood is a situation to be taken seriously. Your vet will do a thorough exam on your cat and can run tests to identify the problem.
Symptoms of a cat vomiting blood
If you notice that your cat is vomiting blood and the blood in question is bright red, that means it is fresh and may have been caused by trauma to the esophagus, such as an oral health condition, or even from swallowing a foreign object. A cat that vomits blood that is dark may indicate problems that occur further down the cat’s digestive tract.
Common symptoms that accompany a cat vomiting blood include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness or lethargy
- Black stools or blood present in the stool
- Shallow breathing
- Signs of anemia
- Signs of depression
- Painor fever
Reasons why a cat vomiting blood
Possible reasons for a cat to vomit blood include:
- An adverse reaction to medication
- Trauma to the esophagus
- Ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract or esophagus.
- Respiratory disease
- Certain cancers (particularly if the tumors are bleeding)
- Blood clotting conditions
Diagnosing a cat vomiting blood
During the physical examination and necessary diagnostic tests, your vet will be able to determine the reasons behind a cat vomiting blood and also the best treatment protocol.
The vet will likely test your cat’s blood and urine, in addition to performing an endoscopy, ultrasound, and / or X-rays. If cancer is suspected, the vet may take a biopsy of the gastrointestinal tract. Unless specifically requested, you do not need to bring a vomit or stool sample to the veterinary clinic. Veterinarians cannot effectively test vomit samples for disease and other conditions, so they are likely not helpful.
Treatment for a cat vomiting blood
Obviously, the treatment depends on the underlying cause of the cat vomiting blood. In many cases of a cat vomiting blood due to illness, treatment can sometimes be more aggressive. However, other diseases can be managed by drug therapy . Brief hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy may potentially be necessary to restore electrolytes and fluids lost during vomiting.
If the bleeding is caused by ulcers, the vet may prescribe medications that will help prevent the ulcer from causing further damage to the stomach lining and reducing the acidity of the stomach environment . A special diet is generally recommended. Surgery is another treatment method for ulcers, which will require an endoscopy beforehand. Your vet will schedule a follow-up appointment to check the ulcers through an endoscopy.
If the reason behind a cat vomiting blood is cancer, treatment methods may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, depending on the location and stage of the cancer. Your vet will discuss the different options based on your cat’s specific needs.
Prognosis and recovery from a cat that vomits blood
Ultimately, the prognosis and recovery of a cat that vomits blood will vary depending on the underlying cause and recommended treatment. Be sure to carefully follow all of your veterinarian’s treatment and recovery instructions. For example, if your cat has been diagnosed with gingivitis, you will need to ensure that you take proper care of your cat’s teeth by brushing them every day. Your vet will be able to advise you on a dental care regimen.
If your cat has been prescribed drug treatment to treat gastrointestinal ulcers, it is imperative that you administer the drug for the entire recommended treatment period, even if the symptoms begin to subside. Otherwise, an aggressive recurrence could occur. If your cat has had surgery, make sure it doesn’t irritate the surgery site. After any major operation or procedure, you will need to provide a warm and safe place for your cat to rest. Your vet will be able to advise you on dietary changes , if necessary.
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