There’s nothing quite as alarming as blood coming from your pet. When your cat is bleeding, your mind is probably racing: Where did it come from? Is it bad? Should I take her to the vet?
Whether there’s a lot of blood or a little, don’t panic. Here’s what to do immediately after you notice blood on your cat and in the hours after.
0-30 minutes in: Assess and Stem the Bleeding
Your first priority when your cat is bleeding is to assess how much blood she’s losing. If the bleeding is serious enough that it’s literally flowing or spurting from your cat or if the wound is large enough you can’t cover it completely with one hand, rush her to an emergency vet as soon as possible while applying pressure to the wound. Do the same if your cat has bled so much she’s passed out or has become unresponsive; this could be indicative of internal bleeding.
If there is a foreign body in your cat’s wound (i.e. a large chunk of glass, a broken arrow, etc.) do not attempt to remove it yourself as you could inadvertently cause more damage or excessive bleeding. A vet can safely, more comfortably remove foreign objects from your cat’s body.
If the bleeding is problematic but not immediately life threatening, cover the wound with a clean, preferably sterilized, cloth or gauze. Apply constant pressure for 5-10 minutes; the bleeding should stop. If it doesn’t, continue holding the wound with pressure until it does unless the bleeding continues for more than 15 minutes, in which case you’ll want to head to the emergency vet.
30 minutes – 1 hour in: Wrapping or Transport
If your cat has sustained a wound serious enough to cause bleeding, it’s always a good idea for a vet to evaluate her. At the very least, you’ll want to talk to your vet about next-steps when it comes to preventing infection as the wound heals. As you’re applying pressure to your cat’s wound, contact the vet to set up an appointment as soon as you can; if it’s immediately, follow the next steps then proceed to the vet’s office.
Flush the wound with clean, cool water. You may use home antiseptics to clean the wound, but beware that they will likely make your cat uncomfortable. Cover the wound with a fresh sanitary cloth or gauze pad. Using sterile gauze or wrapping tape, wrap the wound tightly enough to keep the underlying gauze pad in place but not tightly enough to cut off your cat’s circulation. You want the wrapping to apply very light pressure to the wound but also to be comfortable for your cat.
1 hour – 2 hours in: Identify the Source
If you don’t know why your cat is bleeding, it’s important to try and identify the source of the injury as this can help determine the best course of treatment. Did she fall from the second story landing? Did she get into a fight with another cat? Knowing these things might help a vet determine whether or not to X-ray to check for internal bleeding, for example, or whether your cat needs to be on preventative antibiotics to prevent a cat-borne viral infection.
As with any injury, the best thing you can do for your cat is keep her comfortable while she heals. Do what you can to keep her from licking her injury – you may need a cone! – and when in doubt, take her to the vet to alleviate any concerns you might have.