It may just be a simple infection, but could be something more serious. Learn when to head straight to the vet.

By Kristi Valentini
August 24, 2020
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Cats occasionally sneeze. That’s no biggie. But what if your cat starts sneezing blood? Don’t freak out: There are many causes of bloody noses in cats, some simple to remedy. Read on to learn about the most common reasons cats sneeze blood and when it’s truly an emergency.

What Causes Cats to Sneeze Blood? 

Like people, cats have noses that are lined with many tiny blood vessels. A break in one of those can lead to a bloody nose. “The feeling of liquid in a cat’s nose can stimulate a sneeze reaction,” Erick Mears, DVM, DACVIM, medical director of BluePearl Pet Hospital in Tampa Bay, Fla., says. “Cats tend to just sneeze and sneeze and sneeze sometimes.”

By far, the most common cause of cats sneezing blood is an upper respiratory infection, Mears says. Another fairly frequent issue is having a foreign object stuck inside the nose. Other things that can lead to bloody discharge from the nose include rat poison, high blood pressure, and tumors. 

What Are the Signs of Nasal or Respiratory Infections in Cats? 

Upper respiratory infections (colds) are common in cats and easily spread to other cats, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center

Your kitty may have an upper respiratory infection if you see symptoms such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Clear, green, or yellow nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge

Typically, upper respiratory infections get better on their own—though they’re highly contagious, so keep other cats in your home away from your sick kitty. But if your cat starts sneezing blood, it’s time to see your vet. 

“It’s rare for bloody discharge from the nose to be the first sign of an upper respiratory infection in cats,” Mears says. “By the time you’re seeing blood, usually cats have been fighting an infection for a while.”

Treatment options for upper respiratory infections include antibiotics and antiviral medications, steroids, and eye and nose drops.

What Can You Do If Your Cat Is Sneezing Blood? 

Unfortunately, there aren’t any home remedies for stopping a bloody nose in your kitty, Mears says. Cats don’t appreciate being restrained or having anything placed on them, like an ice pack.

If your cat is sneezing blood, they need veterinary attention. If it’s just a tinge of blood and it stops, you can wait until the next day to take your kitty to the vet, Mears advises. But seek immediate veterinary care if your cat has the following:

  • Bleeding that starts suddenly
  • No other symptoms of respiratory infection
  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop

Whenever you see something concerning, like bloody discharge, the best thing you can do for your four-legged friend is to get it checked out by a veterinarian. It could be something minor, like a bloody nose from having a cold. But if it isn’t, catching the problem early could make a world of difference.