Hemorrhage of the Lung in Cats

By PetMD Editorial on Jan. 19, 2009

Pulmonary Contusions in Cats

Pulmonary contusion, or a hemorrhage of the lung, occurs when the cat's lung is torn and/or crushed during direct trauma to the chest. This then impedes the cat's ability to breath and pass arterial blood to a capillary bed in synchrony. Cats suffering from capillary damage may also develop pulmonary fluid in the lungs, as well as hemorrhage.

Pulmonary contusion occurs in both dogs and cats and there is no specific breed, age, or gender predilection. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects dogs, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

  • Tachypnea
  • Coughing up of blood or blood-tinged fluid
  • Respiratory distress, or abnormal respiratory effort after a blunt trauma to the chest
  • Cyanotic (blue-tinged) or pale mucous membranes


  • Blunt trauma
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Fall from a great height
  • Physical abuse (i.e., beating)
  • Coagulopathy (coagulation/clotting disorder)


You will need to give a thorough history of your cat's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated/preceded this condition.

Your veterinarian will then perform a thorough physical exam on your cat, including blood tests, a urinalysis, and chest X-rays. If there are rib fractures, for example, they will show up on X-ray.

Your doctor will also perform coagulation (clotting) tests, and may culture cells from the trachea.


Your pet will probably need to be hospitalized so that respiratory function can be supported, and the cardiovascular system can be stabilized. A hospital stay may be recommended so that the cat may be resuscitated quickly if complications should arise.

Your veterinarian will want to look at other organ systems to be sure there are no other internal injuries. Activity will be restricted for a time, and respiratory functions will be carefully monitored for 24 hours after the trauma.

If shock sets in, it may be necessary to administer fluids intravenously to support the cat's cardiovascular function, and in some cases, blood plasma transfusion might also be called for.

Nutritional support will be given by intravenous fluid, if necessary. Prescribed medications, meanwhile, will ultimately depend on the underlying cause of the symptoms.

Living and Management

Initially, your veterinarian will want to frequently monitor respiratory rate and effort, mucous membrane color, heart rate, pulse quality, and lung sounds. There may also be a need for further blood tests and urinalyses, to monitor your cat’s systemic reaction to the trauma.

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