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What is Bleeding Under the Skin?

Bleeding under the skin occurs when blood vessels rupture, leaking blood into nearby tissues. The condition is generally visible and can present as a single pinpoint, small blotches, or larger areas. Affected areas may appear bright red, purple ranging to black, bluish-- or in older bruises, as a yellowish or greenish discoloration. Bruising or bleeding is frequently caused by trauma, but could be a sign of several other conditions. Although bruising often heals over time without medical treatment, frequent, large, long-lasting, or numerous bruises should be checked out by a veterinary professional.

Symptoms of Bleeding Under the Skin in Cats

The most obvious sign of bleeding under the skin is observable blood, bruising, or discoloration. In many cases, this is the only symptom. Additional symptoms may be present depending on the underlying cause of the condition. 

Symptoms Include:

  • Red, bluish, or purple discoloration 
  • Pinpoint hemorrhages or discolored spots
  • Larger, blotchy bruising
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Signs of pain, like vocalization
  • Anemia
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Inflammation or swelling
  • Excessive scratching or rubbing the affected area
  • Blood in other locations like eyes, sores, or urine and feces


There are various types of bleeding that can occur under the skin in cats and other companion animals. Common types include:

  • Visible bruises
  • Blood spots or pinpoints
  • Hematomas or blood collecting outside the blood vessels
  • Petechiae, or spot bleeding into the skin
  • Ecchymosis, or a collection of blood under the skin

Causes of Bleeding Under the Skin in Cats

A variety of issues can result in bleeding under the skin. Cats commonly acquire bruises from minor physical trauma, including falls, fights, and accidents. Bruising and bleeding under the skin can also be a sign of a more serious condition. Some causes of bleeding under the skin in cats include:

  • Injury or trauma
  • Mites, especially ear mites
  • Various parasites
  • Certain viral infections
  • Anemia
  • Nutrient deficiencies 
  • Platelet disorders
  • Vascular disorders
  • Clotting factor conditions
  • Some medications
  • Cancer, especially bone marrow cancer
  • Immune disorders
  • Some toxins

Diagnosis of Bleeding Under the Skin in Cats

Medical diagnosis of bleeding under the skin may require various methodologies to identify the cause and rule out various conditions. Be prepared to discuss your pet’s medical history and any medications they are on, the onset of the bruising or bleeding, and any other symptoms you have observed. If you are aware of any recent physical trauma, be sure to let your veterinarian know. This can make diagnosis a simple task. A complete physical examination will be conducted to identify all affected locations and look for other observable symptoms like swelling or masses. Veterinary staff will draw blood and collect a urine sample. They may also take samples of any associated discharge.

Proper diagnosis is essential for successful treatment because some causes, like cancers and blood disorders, can result in serious medical concerns and even death. Your cat’s blood samples will undergo diagnostic screening for blood disorders. Analysis will include platelet count and function, active clotting time, nutrients amounts, white and red blood cell counts, and analysis for bacterial, viral, or other infections. Other diagnostic methods, like urinalysis, biochemistry profile, biopsies, smears or cultures, and imaging techniques, might be used to search for underlying causes like cancers, infections, and systemic disorders. If bone marrow cancer or other disorders are expected, a bone marrow biopsy may be conducted. Procedures like bone marrow biopsy will require hospitalization. 

Treatment of Bleeding Under the Skin in Cats

Your veterinarian’s treatment plan will depend on their diagnosis of the underlying causes of the bruising or bleeding. Bruising from minor trauma often will not require any treatment and should heal on its own over time. Bleeding under the skin brought on by other conditions will require medical treatment. Common treatment methods for bleeding under the skin in cats include:

Limited Mobility

Even in pets with bruising from minor trauma, limited mobility may be recommended to prevent worsening of the bleeding. By minimizing the cat’s activity, the risk of complications is diminished. 

Intravenous (IV) Fluids

In animals that are weak, anemic or at risk of dehydration, IV fluids will be administered to aid in recovery. This is a routine, low-risk technique generally used only while your pet is in veterinary care. 

Blood Transfusions

If blood loss is severe, blood counts are low, or with some blood disorders, a blood transfusion may be necessary. With proper blood type matching and administration, this treatment carries a relatively low risk of side effects. 


Surgery may be required to drain blood or implant temporary drains. This is common with hematomas. Surgery might also be necessary to remove tumors or other masses. Surgery is conducted while the cat is under anesthesia and could require hospitalization during the recovery phase. Your veterinarian will decide if your pet is healthy enough to undergo a surgical procedure. 

Cause-Specific Treatments

Other methods and procedures might be used depending on the cause of your cat’s bleeding. Cancer treatments, various types of medication, certain transplants, or therapies for other medical conditions may be required to treat your pet successfully. 

Recovery of Bleeding Under the Skin in Cats

Your cat’s prognosis will vary depending on the cause of bleeding under the skin. In the case of bruising brought on by minor trauma, infections, or parasites, full recovery is likely with treatment. Some causes of bruising may be more serious and could require extended hospitalization and long-term treatment. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for care, including providing the full course of any medications and returning for required follow-up visits. Support your pet’s recovery by feeding them a nutritious diet, providing plenty of fluids, and limiting stressors. Your cat may experience weakness for several days, so ensure their food, water, and bedding is nearby. 

Bleeding Under the Skin Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Black shorthair
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


18 yr old male cat with blood clot under skin size of a ten pence coin. Fur has fallen off from on and around the area and a small puncture wound is present around the edge of the clot with small amount of puss which I have cleaned with saltwater. Cat is fine, eating and is mobile and does not mind the area being touched.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1680 Recommendations
Given the fact there is a puncture wound in the skin and puss, I would recommend that you visit your Veterinarian for a course of antibiotics (if required) as well as a check to see if the wound needs flushing or any other treatment. It is good that Ronnie is otherwise in good spirits, and is eating/drinking etc… We need to be more careful with cats especially when they get older to make sure that they are healing properly. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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American Shorthair
6 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Biting Himself
Blood Spot
Watery eyes

I was playing and brushing my cat and I noticed that he has a small spot of what appears to be blood in front of one of his ears. It's red and kind of orange-pinkish. Lately, he has also had watery eyes, and he bites himself when he's grooming, usually his left hind leg. However, he still has his normal behaviors. Thanks for reading.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1680 Recommendations
There are a few possible issues here which may be attributable to allergies, infections and other causes; I would keep an eye on the red pinkish lump to see if it changes in size and the biting at the paw may indicate some discomfort so check to make sure that there are no foreign objects or other issues there. Keep an eye and see if there is an increase in severity, if so you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Short hair Calico
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

My cat got pinched below the eye under a door between the door and a small throw rug. There was some swelling under the eye which today appears to be a bruise behind the whiskers which is currently bleeding. With the bleeding the swell under the eye appears to be getting smaller. Is this probably a blood blister from the pinch and should she be seen by a vet or is it ok to continue home treatment. Appetite and mobility are normal.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1680 Recommendations
Given the type of injury I would recommend you visit your Veterinarian especially if the blood doesn’t stop draining from the wound; placing an ice pack on the area may help but you should get Molly checked to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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American short hair cat
18 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms


Our cat was attacked by 2 dogs on Saturday. She's been xrayed and the doctor's said everything looks normal but she developed large patches of bluish black skin today and her stomach is slightly saggy. She just had her last round of anti-inflammatory medicine today and I have her scheduled to go for an exam tomorrow at 4. Is this just bruising or a sign of internal injury? Can she wait until tomorrow to be seen? Still eating and letting us pick her up and touch her.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1680 Recommendations
If Betty is otherwise well I would wait for your visit tomorrow, it may be just some bruising from the trauma or may be due to another cause like thrombocytopenia. Without examining her and seeing a blood test I wouldn’t want to guess at possible causes which may cause you unnecessary concern. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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American Shorthair
6 months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

My cat was spayed last week (about 8 days ago) everything went fine she finished her antibiotics yesterday. The incision is healing fine. I notice this evening that there is a spot a little bit above the incision that looked like it had blood on I went to clean it and it doesn't wash off. It doesn't seem to hurt her, she is eating, playing and using the litter box as normal...not sure what this could be. Thank you.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1680 Recommendations
This isn’t particularly unusual and as long as there is no swelling, pain or discharge I would just recommend keeping an eye on it. When you take Hazel in for her post surgery check up (if you haven’t already), just bring it up with your Veterinarian; but redness like this usually disappears over time. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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