Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My cat, Puma, has a bump about the size of a quarter, three inches from the start of his tail. It sometimes bleeds for no apparent reason. His tail oozes blood, but it does not bleed a lot. What should I do? Should I take him to the vet or should I try to decrease the bleeding?
Siouxsie: Andrew, we definitely think this bleeding bump is something your vet should look at.
Thomas: There are several things that could cause a bleeding sore, from the very treatable to the potentially fatal.
Dahlia: You didn’t say how long your cat has had this occasionally bleeding lump on his tail, but we’d be particularly concerned if he’s had it for more than a week or so.
Siouxsie: Chronic bleeding sores can be caused by a foreign body embedded in the skin such as a splinter, an insect stinger, or an embedded tick head. If this is the case, your vet should examine the wound and remove the foreign body. Your vet may also prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
Thomas: Sores can also be caused by overgrooming. If your cat’s skin is irritated, your cat may be licking and biting at the area in order to calm the itching or relieve pain. Generally, overgrooming sores are accompanied by a bald patch around the area.
Dahlia: Another possibility could be an infection such as ringworm. Ringworm is not a worm at all, but rather a fungal infection that gets its name from the fact that it leaves ring-shaped sores on the skin. In cats, you don’t typically see the sores I mentioned, but you do see a small bald patch of skin.
Siouxsie: Ringworm is contagious to other cats–and to dogs and humans as well–so you’ll want to get it treaed as quickly as possible.
Thomas: This page at peteducation.com lists the symptoms of ringworm infection. It also shows pictures of typical ringworm lesions on cats and describes the treatment.
Dahlia: Although it’s not very likely, we do have to tell you about the worst-case scenario.
Siouxsie: A sore that doesn’t heal could be a symptom of cancer.
Thomas: Cancer can occur in cats of any age, but it becomes increasingly possible as cats get older.
Dahlia: Your vet will probably take a biopsy of your cat’s sore if the cause isn’t obvious (an embedded foreign body, for example) and send it to a pathology lab. The results will determine the cause of the sore. If it is a tumor, it could be benign–that is, non-cancerous–or malignant.
Siouxsie: Even if your cat’s lump does turn out to be cancerous, you don’t have to freak out. Early detection and treatment will do a lot to prevent the disease from spreading.
Thomas: Treatment for a skin tumor usually involves removing the tumor and regular follow-up care to make sure the tumor doesn’t reappear.
Dahlia: So, Andrew, we strongly recommend that you get Puma to the vet for a checkup. Your vet will be able to figure out what’s causing his bleeding lump and give him the correct treatment. And as an extra added bonus, you’ll get some peace of mind.