Nosebleeds in cats are alarming, especially if the bleeding does not stop, and can have many origins, from a slight wound to a neoplasm. Learn about the most common causes of feline epistaxis and how you should act.

feline epistaxis

Epistaxis comes from the Greek ‘epistazo’ or ‘epistaxis’ and means ‘drip.’ It is a medical term that refers to bleeding or bleeding that comes from the nose. 

In the cat, this nasal epistaxis can occur due to two main mechanisms: the rupture of a blood vessel (a consequence of trauma or wall weakness) or the failure of blood clotting (shortage of platelets or coagulation factor deficiency).

Causes of Epistaxis or Nosebleeds in Cats

The nosebleed in cats can be caused by mild trauma or more serious reasons, such as nasal lymphoma. The causes of feline epistaxis are:

  • Trauma: falls from height, run over, fights between felines.
  • Chronic nasal and respiratory diseases: rhinitis, nasopharyngeal polyp.
  • Foreign body in the nose: spikes.
  • Infections: bacterial, fungal (aspergillosis, cryptococcosis), viral (feline herpesvirus, leukemia, or feline immunodeficiency virus), or parasitic (leishmaniasis, insect larvae).
  • Dental problems: oronasal fistula, abscesses in the tooth root.
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  • Systemic diseases: arterial hypertension, chronic kidney failure.
  • Coagulation disorders: inherited (hemophilia) or acquired ( rodenticide poisoning, thrombosis, vasculitis, DIC).
  • Oral or nasal neoplasia: nasal lymphoma, squamous cell carcinoma, fibrosarcoma.

Predisposing factors to nosebleeds in felines

Any cat could suffer epistaxis at some point in its life. Still, younger and unneutered cats that go outside are more predisposed to trauma due to their innate curiosity, confrontations with other cats, and the possibility of contracting infectious diseases.

On the other hand, the most common cause of epistaxis in adult and elderly cats are dental problems, high blood pressure, and tumors.

Symptoms and diagnosis of feline epistaxis

The feline epistaxis is not a disease in itself but a symptom of a problem in your cat. It is clear that our cat bleeds from the nose or has recently bled if we observe fresh blood or scabs in the nostrils, but many times it is difficult to notice why these animals lick their noses or groom themselves constantly. 

Sometimes we can see traces of blood on the floor or wall, in the drinker or the feeder, and we must look for the origin of the bleeding, which may be in the nostrils.

Essential data to keep in mind

Sometimes epistaxis in cats is an s íntoma of systemic or infectious diseases in our pets, and the presence of additional symptoms can help the veterinarian determine the cause. Some data to keep in mind are:

  • If the bleeding has been punctual or has been repeated more times.
  • If it affects one nostril or both.
  • If the kitten has had serous or purulent nasal discharge or sneezing.
  • If there is some deformation in the nose or face.
  • If your breath smells.
  • If you have stopped eating, drink and urinate more than usual, or vomit.

feline epistaxis

Warning signs and diagnosis of feline epistaxis

An episode of bleeding is not usually necessary. Still, if it is repeated, the bleeding does not stop, or our feline has more symptoms, we must go to the vet to determine the origin of the epistaxis. 

In addition to a complete examination and taking vital signs, including blood pressure and temperature, you will inquire about the critical data described above, which can be of great help before doing more invasive tests.

He will explore the oral cavity for dental problems, perform blood tests to rule out clotting problems, and take a nasal swab to look for possible infections. 

If the cause is not found, he will perform a rhinoscopy (observation of the inside of the nasal cavity under anesthesia) to look at foreign bodies or take a nasal biopsy.

Treatment and first aid for feline epistaxis

If our cat has a nosebleed, we must remain calm to transmit tranquility to the feline. We will wrap him in a towel to prevent him from being scared, and we will press with gauze on the bleeding point. Applying cold to the area may be helpful to slow bleeding from constriction of the blood vessels. Usually, the bleeding stops in less than a minute, but if it does not control or the animal has blocked nostrils, we must go immediately to a veterinarian.

A specific episode of nasal bleeding in your cat, mainly due to minor trauma, is usually unnecessary. Still, suppose they recur over time, or the animal shows symptoms of fatigue. In that case, it is essential to make an appointment with our veterinarian to look for underlying diseases that cause feline epistaxis.

The veterinarian may indicate the use of drugs that stimulate clotting or cauterize the small bleeding vessels. For example, if our cat has a bacterial or fungal infection, he will prescribe a treatment based on antibiotics or antifungal agents.

High blood pressure can be controlled with specific drugs and diet. In the case of diagnosing a tumor, surgical treatment, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy, can provide excellent results in many tumors. In some very advanced or aggressive cases, palliative surgery and pain treatment can be performed, opting for euthanasia if the cat suffers and there are no therapeutic alternatives that improve its quality of life.

How to prevent or detect the causes of epistaxis early?

In young cats that go outside, the confrontations with other felines can be reduced by castration, especially in males. Therefore, it is helpful to place protection on the windows to avoid accidents. Infectious diseases, such as herpesvirus, are prevented with vaccination and dental problems with daily brushing.

In the same way, to detect systemic and tumor diseases early, it is advisable to carry out an annual check-up with our veterinarian.