Watching your cat sneezing blood can be quite unnerving. However, there are a variety of causes for this, most of which are not serious, though it does require a trip to the veterinarian.
A common cause for sneezing blood is something caught in your cat’s nasal passage, such as a string, blade of grass or piece of food. This can come out on its own, but if the sneezing persists for more than a couple of hours, take him to the vet, who can help to remove the blockage.
Sneezing blood can also be caused by a cold, bacterial infection or allergies. If your cat is exhibiting other cold symptoms, such as eye or nasal discharge, coughing or loss of appetite, visit your veterinarian for medication, which should clear the problem right up. Bloody sneezing is probably caused by a buildup of nasal fluid, which might need to be cleared out before treatment can begin.
Allergies can cause a similar buildup of fluids. If the sneezing began suddenly, think about recent changes you may have made to your house, such as changing food, litter or a household cleaner. If this caused the sudden bout of sneezing, switch back. If the sneezing appears seasonally, it’s probably an environmental allergy that can be helped by steroids or antihistamines that can be acquired from your veterinarian.
These are all examples of potential irritants or allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) in cats:
- Cigarette smoke
- Pest sprays
- Cat litter, especially types that create dust
- Cleaning agents
In cats, allergies are a less common cause of sneezing than in humans. If sneezing is related to allergies, sometimes itchy skin is also present.
A lesser-known cause of bloody sneezing is dental problems. Certain dental infections, such as an abcessed tooth, can also infect the nasal region, which leads to excessive sneezing.
Serious Causes of Sneezing Blood
In rare cases, sneezing blood can be indicative of a much more serious problem. Sneezing blood can be caused by a blood problem, such as a clotting disorder, high blood pressure or anemia which leads to low platelet counts. This will often be accompanied by other symptoms, such as bloody vomit or stool, changes in eating patterns and lethargy or lack of energy.
Tumors can also cause bloody sneezing. If your cat has a nasal or facial tumor, this might be one of the only symptoms, except possible facial swelling or pain. Bloody sneezing could be caused by other bleeding tumors, but these might also have other symptoms, depending on the location of the tumor.
If your vet cannot find a blockage or evidence of an infection or dental problem, further tests will be needed to eliminate tumors or blood disease as the cause. If your veterinarian can’t find the cause, advocate further testing, such as:
- Blood testing
- Facial X-rays
- Rhinoscopy, which involves sending a small camera through the nasal passages
- Nasal biopsy
In all liklihood, your cat’s bloody sneezing is caused by something simple, such as a blockage, trauma or infection. However, if the symptom persists for more than one or two sneezes, visit your veterinarian to determine the cause and begin treatment.
When to See the Vet
If your cat sneezes only once in a while, has no other symptoms, or has only mild symptoms, you may want to simply monitor him or her for a few days. Keep your cat indoors and watch for changes. But be sure to call the vet if your cat sneezes continuously or often, sneezes blood, or has other signs such as those listed above. They may be signs of an illness or condition that needs veterinary care.
Treatment depends on the cause of the sneezing. In mild cases, the vet may suggest taking steps to simply help your cat be more comfortable — like using a humidifier. In other cases, antibiotics, nasal decongestants, or fluids may be needed. Rarely, cats that don’t respond to medical therapy may require surgery.