Why is my cat leaving tiny blood spots in the sink?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have a question about my 18-month-old Siamese: a couple weeks ago I began noticing tiny blood spots in the bathroom sink. At first I thought maybe I was brushing my teeth too hard or something, but I finally figured out that they were coming from my cat’s feet (or foot?).

I’ve checked her over numerous times, including between each of her toes and her rear. I can never find any blood spotting in her fur, on her pads, or in any place that she regularly naps (and just all around “hangs out”). The only place I find the spots, in fact, are in the bathroom sink (and then, only when it’s been wet). She also doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort or duress, hasn’t been chewing her paws, and hasn’t been vocalizing any more than usual.

Any ideas? Thanks for your help!


Siouxsie: Well, G, we suspect that your cat has fleas. And here’s why.

Thomas: Tiny blood spots in wet places are a key indicator of the presence of fleas. These nasty little parasites feed off your cat’s blood, and when they poop, they poop out that dried blood.

Dahlia: Flea dirt looks like little black specks when it’s dry, but when it’s wet it turns a rusty-red or blood color.

Siouxsie: Fleas are not always obvious. They’re really good at hiding under your cat’s fur, so you won’t necessarily see them crawling around on your cat unless the poor thing is really infested.

Thomas: Don’t be embarrassed if your cat has fleas. It doesn’t mean you’re a slob or a bad pet parent.

Dahlia: Your cat can get fleas any number of ways. If he goes outside, there are always fleas around, and if he catches rodents and eats them, fleas can easily migrate from the rodent to your cat.

Siouxsie: You could bring flea eggs in on your clothes or backpack if you visited a house where there were animals with fleas. If you rent, it’s possible that the previous tenants had animals with fleas and didn’t clean properly; then when the eggs hatched out, they got on your cat.

Thomas: You can tell if your cat’s blood spots are coming from flea dirt by doing a very simple test.

Dahlia: Get a fine-toothed metal flea comb from your local pet store. Run the comb through your cat’s fur, and then put the fur and whatever grit comes out onto a damp paper towel. If the grit you pick up turns into red spots, you’re dealing with fleas. If your cat has fleas, you may even pick up one or two on the comb itself.

Siouxsie: It’s very hard to kill fleas when you find them because they have a hard outer shell, so you need to crush them with your thumbnail or drown them in water.

Thomas: The good news is that it’s really easy to get rid of fleas. There are a number of “spot on” flea treatments that are very effective not only at killing fleas but keeping the eggs from hatching in the first place. We recommend that you use a product like Frontline Plus or Advantage. We’ve had great success with both of them, and they’re well worth the money.

Dahlia: Your vet will be able to recommend a product that will be most effective in your area. Certain treatments tend to work better in certain climates, and some products are more resistant to water than others.

Siouxsie: It’s very important that you don’t get cheap spot-applied flea treatments that you see in supermarkets. Some of these products can be toxic not only to the fleas but to your cat as well. They also tend to be less effective than the more costly brands.

Thomas: Also, don’t buy “super-discounted” versions of Advantage, Frontline, or other vet-quality flea treatments. These often tend to be either expired lots (which will mean they don’t work well) or counterfeit products (which in addition to not working well may have other, more toxic ingredients).

Dahlia: Ironically, you’ll probably pay less for these high-quality flea treatments if you get them at your vet’s office than you will if you buy them at pet stores. At least, that’s been Mama’s experience.

Siouxsie: We recommend against using flea collars because they tend to be ineffective and can even choke or trap your cat because they don’t have safety releases like regular cat collars. Flea powderstend to be ineffective–because they only get on the surface of your cat’s fur rather than under the fur where the fleas live–and toxic to your cat as well because he’ll lick the product off as he cleans himself.

Thomas: Using spot-on flea treatments is an effective way to get rid of fleas. And it causes minimal stress to your cat, unlike bathing or powdering.

Dahlia: If you have chemical sensitivities or you just don’t want to use chemical products on your cat, there is a natural way to eliminate fleas.

Siouxsie: When we were kittens, Sinéad and I got fleas. Because we were still really small, Mama didn’t want to use nasty chemicals on us. So here’s how she took care of our flea problem.

Thomas: In order to get the fleas out of your house, you have to kill the eggs and get rid of new batches of fleas as they hatch. It takes a lot of effort to do this the pesticide-free way, but if you do this properly, it works very well.

Dahlia: First, Mama made a powder, a mixture of half table salt and half baking soda. She sprinkled it on all the carpets, under and on all the furniture, and let it sit for an hour or so. Then she vacuumed everywhere and disposed of the bag outdoors immediately. She did this once a week for three weeks.

Siouxsie: Mama laundered all her bedding and all of our bedding, pillow covers, throw blankets–pretty much anything that moved and that we sat or slept on–in hot water.You may have to do this once a week for a few weeks, too.

Thomas: At the same time she was vacuuming and washing our bedding,  she bathed Sinéad and Siouxsie weekly with Flea-B-Gone, an herbal flea shampoo from Avena Bontanicals in Rockport, Maine. Once she rinsed them off and toweled them dry, she picked or combed out any half-dead fleas and drowned them in a jar of water with a couple of drops of dish detergent (water with a drop or two of ammonia also works well). She kept this “drowning jar” with her wherever she sat, and if she was watching TV or reading a book and a cat crawled onto her lap, she’d pet her and casually search for fleas. The ones she found, she picked off and plunged into the solution.

Dahlia: This process is obviously very labor-intensive, but it works. The flea siege was gone after three weeks, and nothing Mama did was toxic to Sinéad and Siouxsie.

Siouxsie: If your cat does have fleas, G, you’ll want to watch out for tapeworms. Fleas are the main vector for tapeworm infestations in cats. Either an adult louse or a flea larva ingests the eggs. The egg develops into an immature form in the insect. When your cat eats an infected flea, which he would do in the course of his daily grooming, the immature form develops into an adult in your cat’s intestines, and the life cycle is completed.

Thomas: Signs of tapeworms in cats include seeing things that look like little rice grains in your cat’s bedding or around his anus. These are the segments of the tapeworm. And sometimes you’ll even see them wriggling around when they first come out. Gross!

Dahlia: If your cat does have tapeworms, your vet will be able to give you a very effective medication to kill them. Some of these medications, such as Cestex, are given in two doses, two weeks apart. Others require only one dose. Again, use tapeworm medicines from your vet rather than from your pet store because your vet’s medicines are much more effective.

Siouxsie: Good luck, G. We’re sure you and your cat will be much happier once his fleas are gone.

  • Luna

    My cat has this also, and it’s not fleas, it’s the eye gunk that she gets (she’s a persian) and she leaves little brown spots the same color as the gunk she gets around her eyes. Just a thought to check as well.

    • jennaveeve

      sweetheart—your cat has fleas—NOT eye gunk…trust me we have been through this repeatedly with our six outdoor/indoor cats…took the first cat to vet…got FRONTLINE…problem solved…treated all the other cats the same….

      • Nicki

        Luna, sweetheart, your cat has eye gunk, trust me. Clearly someone doesn’t understand different breeds have different issues. Unless you are a medically trained professional, don’t dispense advice about things you don’t know, Jenna.

      • ann

        i norm use frontline and i comb my cat reg and the seem to reduce cat fleas

    • ann

      u know cat get fleas nank and so do house and it normal happens to us all nank to go red about hun its the same if ur kids get nits ur whole family gets them i put my hands up happens to me few times i spray my house and use powder and kills then hun

  • Angela Cutrer

    THANK YALL i have been looking for an answer. i kept checking my cat all over and final figure it was her mouth but i kept watching when she would drink from the faucet and nothing so GLAD to find out that it is fleas and nothing more serious

  • http://www.mozitrap.com mozitrap

    thanks for this post as I have a new cat at home this would be helpful.

  • sheila

    I also have been wondering about the spots, it’s hard to believe it’s fleas though, this happens also on my washing machine that is white… took me awhile to figure out it was coming from my cat.. I’ll do the flea check though :) Thanks , glad not to be alone in this :)

  • chrissy

    thank you! i had a feelin it was this x

  • Amanda

    Thanks so much! I thought it might have to do with the fleas, but thought, “How are the fleas biting her, make her bleed, but not getting blood spots on her fur?” Life savers! Do you happen to know if Advantage or Frontline are safe to use when the owner is pregnant?


  • Regina

    My cat does not have fleas and I have noticed this blood letting for years. Now, I know flea poop (black and grainy) and this is bonafide RED blood on my bathroom wall, kitchen sink, bathroom floor, etc. Where is this coming from; their rectum…their feet? I have looked these cats over a hundred times, but recently noticed fresh speckles of blood (yes, red…about 7 spots) on the bathroom wall and am completely stumped!!!

    • jennaveeve

      My Dear… yes, it is fleas. Go to ask a vet—the free on line services—or better yet…call your vet.

      • Nicki

        Again, it is not. There is a very specific type of blood let off by fleas. This could be a number of things, including respiratory issues, digestive issues, menstrual issues… do not use free online services, do contact your vet .. and DO NOT listen to Jenna.

  • Regina

    And by the way, it’s YUCK and my house is immaculate….so imagine my dismay when finding this. Help!!!!

  • LUCY

    Thanks for your help, i was just about to take my cat to the vets when reading this, I checked her for fleas and done the flea test it came back positive, will be sorting her out again tomorrow. she is an indoor cat so i don’t understand why she gets them! :(

  • Philip

    Do cats get bedbugs and do they also leave blood spots?

  • Sarah

    Can I just say a massive Thank-you for this website and this page. We couldn’t figure out why our cat was only leaving these red spots in the bathroom but no where else. I did the test and yes there were fleas. Now been treated and have a happy home again :)

  • Charlieh

    I have these in my bathroom & 1 of my 4 cats like to sleep in there.
    I looked & yep, they ALL have fleas, 1 of them pretty bad so thanks for the tips.
    The hard part will begin tomorrow when I begin the task of trying to get rid of the darn things :[

  • Mark Thomas

    Charlieh, you are beautiful AND a cat lover. Lets correspond. I’ll tell you about the 5 day old tabby I rescued and you can take it from there.

  • KM

    Thank you so much!! We have been seeing little red spots of blood on our bathroom sink and figured our cat was teething. However, after reading this I did the test and sure enough, found little black stuff in her fur that turned red when it got wet (exactly like on our sink!). Guess we will be picking up some Frontline on the way home tonight. Hope the infestation isn’t too bad. Our neighbor in the duplex has 4 cats, 2 outdoor/indoor so could be tough to get rid of this problem.

  • Zoey’s Mom

    Thanks for this post… I was trying to convince my husband that this was the issue but he did not believe me. You helped me convince him so that now we can get on to the process of dealing with the fleas. Very grateful to you!

  • http://PawsandEffect Roxann

    Soooooo glad I found you! My oldest male cat has been camped out in the bathroom lately.I couldnt fig this out.Then I saw the blood spots.Goin to get all 3 cats treated & WORMED you must stress this……It needs to be done after defleaing!!!!!! Thank u!

  • Cat

    My poor 7 month kitten has got them so I noticed, he not himself at all get some frontline tomorrow I have just cringed to find loads of black bits everywhere on side really turned my stomach guna b fun getting rid of this lot cxxx

  • Judy

    Thank you so much for this answer. Wow. My three kittens still sleep in the bathroom at night, and the little red dots are all over the sink and toilet… then i was seeing the tiny black flea poop, (i realize now that’s what it was) and smudges of what i thought was blood everywhere as well…didn’t know WHAT was going on! I didn’t think googling ‘little red dots cats’ would help, but this page came up! I love the internet! So many people with knowledge to share! Thank you Paws and Effect, thank you so much, on the way to the vet tomorrow!

  • K

    So glad I found this! I noticed all these red spots and became very worried about my poor Lyra! Pickup.g up flea medicine tomorrow!

  • Vanessa

    @ Philip. I have what looks like blood spots on my white bed sheets after i wash them. This just started when I got my kitten. But my boys do not have them on their sheets but the cat sleeps in our room right beside the bed. Do you have this problem also? It’s not bed bugs because the spots are only in my bedroom and the family bathroom and I have never seen any bites on my body or my boys nor seen any bed bugs. I have blood spots on the counter and toilet. When I shake out my black rugs in my bathtub I see a ton of little red specks. I don’t understand how there are so many I shake the bathroom rugs out two times a day vacuum every day and I still see the flea and there poop. I’m getting hopeless. More than anything I’m wondering why there would be blood stains on my sheets and not come out in the wash ?

  • Flo

    Hi there, thanks very much for this information, I too had noticed this ocasionally in the past week or two on top of the freezer in the laundry where the cat sleeps sometimes, it can be damp in there from the clothes dryer. I had wondered if it was fleas bting her and somehow blood from the bites discharging onto the freezer… but couldn’t see any other obvious signs of them. My cat is nearly 13 years old and we have never had any flea problems with her, but treated her occasionally to be sure. Therefore I decided to treat her for fleas and worms yesterday anyway. Good to know I was on the right track even if I didn’t really know what thje spots were really about. Just thought I’d google spots of blood from cat and see what I got…and there ya go! Will do a thorough cleaning also when I get home tonight…. ugh!!! :-)

  • Abigail

    Thank you so much! I have noticed this problem with my Bombay and American Short-hair, but didn’t know what to do. Salem Alexander and Morticia Lynn (SA is Bombay, ML is Short-hair) both would scratch and I would just put the flea medicine on them. It would work, but those little black/red specks still showed up in the sink, I guess it was left over from when they died off. I’m so glad to know what I need to do now. Thanks again!

  • Alix

    I’m 11 in September and Ive never been out of the house since I was born. I had fleas when I first came to my Mom, but I’ve never had them since. I suffer with allergies of some kind and I’ve been on some kind of steroid every other day, which usually helps a treat. For the past few weeks, I’ve been licking myself a lot, pretty much in the same couple of areas. My Mum thought it was my allergy cos before I took steroids, I would lick incessantly…especially when Mum stroked me. I scratch a little bit, but more usually I lick. I have really long claws at the morning, so when I do scratch, I may well be causing the skin to break. My mum has also checked for fleas, having found a couple of black spots which turn red when damp. The thing is…there really are only a couple. My mum can’t find anything when she looks really hard, and despite combing and brushing, again there are only ever a couple of black spots which turn to blood. Could this be due to scratching? Dried blood due to my allergy? Any help?

  • Toni

    We found three cute baby kittens in a box in a grocery store parkinglot. They were only 6 wks old and scared to death. We took them in and have been feeding them and trying to rid their flea infestation… so far I am doing my best.. Cleaning the floors and vacuming. giving them baths in a light dawn/warm water solution, cleaning up after them and their bedding. The fleas have dwindled, but I’ve noticed those tiny blood spots.. about as small as the tip of a pin areound water or when they dring their milk out of proceline bowls… I was so scared it was something serious! This was SO helpful.. even if its pretty gross, but I know now I can handle it.. Just gonna bust my but to help these babies get clean and healthy and then adopt them out for a happy life.

  • Gail

    Thanks for this was helpful!!! I HATE THOSE DAMN FLEAS TO PEICES!!!

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  • kara

    Im so happy i read this, i have three cats and only one hangs out in the bathroom, i got worried becausr i couldnt find where these little spots where coming from and the first thing i tought of was virus or infection, and i have two little girls and as much as they love their little kitty i thought i might havr to get tid of her to sumone who could afford vet bills to make her better, now i know tomorrow im going to comb all my cats and treat them all, thank you so so so much, me and my girls are so happy she can stay.

  • Dewd

    I loooove those who gross-out about fleas forgetting where the animal’s paws have been (think about what goes on in the litter-box).

    I know, a healthy cat is typically pretty clean, but c’mon people! I’ve never seen my cat exit the box and instantly start licking the poo/pee-litter of his paws…

    And then he goes to his favorite spot on the counter. Or, the table…

    Don’t be so highfalutin… “The human body carries about 100 trillion microorganisms in its intestines, a number ten times greater than the total number of human cells in the body.”

    Cat’s have fleas.

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  • Susan Reep

    IMG_0566.JPG don’t know if you can open that photo but that’s what my red spots look like. They aren’t little dots that fall off anything. My snowshoe leaves them on my bedding, the washer and bathtub. She never scratches herself. The other cat and our dog never scratch themselves and my husband and I have never been bitten and we never see a flea. Could this be anything else? We asked the vet and she didn’t seem concerned. Or I should say, my husband asked the vet and maybe he didn’t describe well enough.

    • Lisa Craggs

      Did u ever get an answer to this…

  • Ginny Cowin

    How do you get of bugs