Bleeding From the Mouth in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Why is my cat bleeding from the mouth?

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Why is my cat bleeding from the mouth?

What is Bleeding From the Mouth?

Bleeding from the mouth is a rare occurrence in cats, and while it is not always an emergency, it generally signifies a disorder that will require some form of medical treatment. While in many cases bleeding from the mouth is obvious, there are times where the indicators may be more subtle, such as blood found on the chest from drool or streaks of blood deposited on other areas of the fur from grooming. 

  • Cancer
  • Dental abscess
  • Foreign object lodged in mouth
  • Gum disease
  • Internal bleeding
  • Kidney disease
  • Stomatitis
  • Trauma

Why Bleeding From the Mouth Occurs in Cats

While bleeding from the mouth may indicate internal bleeding or kidney disease, it is more often related to problems with the condition of the gums and teeth. Some of the reasons that you might see blood coming from your cat’s mouth include:

Cancer

The most common cancer that is characterized by bleeding from the mouth is oral squamous cell carcinoma, an invasive and malignant tumor that requires surgery and a combination of radiation and chemotherapy to treat. Bleeding due to cancer is frequently accompanied by weight loss, bad breath, and swelling in the area of the growth. 

Dental Abscess

Frequently caused by broken teeth, dental abscesses also trigger drooling, difficulty eating, and scratching or pawing, particularly at one side of the mouth. Swelling due to abscesses will typically be warm to the touch and painful as well as being accompanied by a foul odor from the mouth. 

Foreign Object Lodged in Mouth

Although it is less common for cats to get objects lodged into their mouths than dogs it does happen. Items like needles, splinters of bone, or thorns can not only cause pain and bleeding in the mouth but if the condition is untreated it can lead to the object moving down into the throat and causing additional damage, or it may cause dangerous oral infections. 

Gum Disease

Gingivitis, the swelling and inflammation of the gums, is a common oral disorder for felines. Severe cases of gingivitis must be differentiated from stomatitis by the results of a blood test or a soft-tissue biopsy and can lead to bacterial and fungal infections if left untreated.

Internal Bleeding

If your cat is bleeding internally, you may also see blood coming out of other orifices, such as the nose or anus. Internal bleeding can cause a great deal of blood to be displaced from the circulatory system, leading to severe weakness, bruising, breathing issues, and eventually, if untreated, collapse and death. If you suspect your cat is bleeding internally, it should be treated as an emergency and the cat should be taken to the nearest veterinarian right away. 

Kidney Disease

Dysfunction of the kidneys is often characterized by some unique oral symptoms due to high levels of urea that are released through the cat’s saliva. Along with ulcerated sores in the mouth, this disorder is accompanied by breath that smells strongly of either ammonia or urine. 

Stomatitis

Stomatitis is an inflammation of the gums causing ulceration that is extremely painful for the cat. This disorder frequently triggers a reluctance to eat and sometimes it is so painful that it may instigate a reluctance even to drink or groom themselves.  Bloody drool and a foul breath with a metallic tinge may be indicators of this challenging condition. 

Trauma to the Mouth

Damage to the mouth through punctures, burns, or blows can also occur. Bleeding due to trauma generally has little to no odor unless it is left untreated, but if not treated may cause oral infections to develop.

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What to do if your Cat is Bleeding From the Mouth

Bleeding from the mouth is uncommon in cats and should typically warrant a visit to the cat's veterinarian; if the bleeding mouth is accompanied by the smell of ammonia or urea from the mouth or if lethargy, weakness, or pale mucous membranes are also present, the situation should be treated as an emergency, and the animal should be taken to the nearest clinic right away. Visits related to bleeding from the mouth will generally start with a full physical examination. During this evaluation, the veterinarian that is evaluating the situation will assess the animal for any physical wounds or pain that may indicate that physical trauma has occurred, as well as checking for any foreign bodies or tumors that are visible in the oral cavity. The mouth area will be examined to check for signs of bacterial or viral infections, particularly around the teeth and gums, as well as checking the odor of the breath.

There are several tests that may be utilized along with the standard diagnostic tests of urinalysis, complete blood count and a biochemical profile in order to uncover the underlying cause of the blood issuing from the animal’s mouth. This may include steps such as imaging of the oral area and possibly the abdominal area using x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, clotting tests, and tests designed to check the efficiency of the liver and kidneys.

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Prevention of Bleeding From the Mouth

Bleeding from the mouth is triggered by a number of circumstances, some of which are easier to prevent than others. Food items that may splinter, such as chicken bones, should be avoided in order to prevent the possibility of getting it lodged in the oral cavity or throat as well as preventing gastrointestinal damage that may lead to internal bleeding.

Outdoor cats may have an increased chance of injury to the mouth due to cars, predatory animals, and even other cats, as well as a higher chance of ingesting poisons such as snail bait or plant fertilizers. Regular veterinary appointments are crucial for felines, particularly as they are experts at hiding discomfort, and these visits may be helpful in uncovering any systemic infections or organ dysfunction before any symptoms arise. Regular dental care is particularly important when addressing the issues that cause bleeding from the mouth in felines.

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Cost of Bleeding From the Mouth

In most cases, bleeding from the mouth is caused by dental disorders, which will run you on average around $850 to $900 to treat. Bleeding that is caused by other issues may be considerably more expensive to treat, including averages for kidney disease and abdominal bleeding in the $2000 range.

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Bleeding From the Mouth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Calico

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Two Years

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Nothing

I found my cat dead in our she she must have got out but she had some blood in her mouth. And before she was not social at all and she peed everywhere all the time. Does that sound like a kidney problem

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question, I am sorry for your loss. Without being able to examine her more or know anything about her history, it is not possible for me to say whether that is kidney disease, although she is very young to have kidney disease. If she had blood in her mouth, I would suspect some sort of trauma. Again, I'm sorry for your loss.

Oct. 6, 2020

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Mixed

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Eight Years

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Bleeding From Base Of Tooth #206 And Maybe #104

Our cat has blood on her chin which we found is coming from inside her mouth at the base of tooth #206 and possibly #104. She doesn’t seem to be in pain, is eating and drinking normally and even allows us to rub and gently scratch the sides of her face. Our vet is on vacation until Tuesday, is it alright to wait until then to take our cat in or does she need to be seen ASAP? Originally we thought she had groomed herself until she was bloody, as she has done that before (picture of leg). She does have a history of periodontal disease.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that she is feeling better and you were able to have her seen.

Oct. 19, 2020

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