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Why Is My Cat’s Nose Wet? Vet-Approved Answer

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

nose and mouth and whisker of a cat close-up

Why Is My Cat’s Nose Wet? Vet-Approved Answer


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter months bring with them cold and flu season. Red, runny noses plague humans during this time, but what does it mean when a cat has a cold, wet nose? If you’re curious about why cat’s noses are wet, you’ve come to the right place.

A cat’s nose is naturally wet due to physical and environmental factors, but the moisture level can vary throughout the day. In this article, you’ll learn what it means when a cat has a cold, wet nose and when you should worry about it. We’ll also tell you what to do about the situation.

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Why Are Cats’ Noses Wet

Your cat’s nose could be wet for several reasons, both inside and outside the body. The nostril skin contains several sweat glands, and their moisture can keep your kitty’s nose wet. Because the cat’s tear ducts connect to their nasal passages, eye drainage can also potentially play a role in the wet nose.

A cat’s nose could feel wet because they’ve been grooming themselves and depositing saliva on the nasal surface, and drinking water can leave your kitty’s nose temporarily damp. While it’s normal for your cat’s nose to feel wet and cold, it can be equally commonplace to be warm and dry to the touch.

For example, spending time in the sun or near a heat source can dry out your cat’s nose. Overall, it’s normal for your cat to experience various levels of wetness or dryness throughout the day.

Ginger cat with swollen nose
Image Credit: Andi111, Shutterstock

When Should I Worry About My Cat’s Wet Nose?

It can be normal for your cat to have a cold, wet nose, and you usually don’t need to worry about it. However, if your cat’s nose goes from being wet to the touch to having a discharge, it’s a different story.

A nasal discharge, either clear or colored, can be a sign of several medical conditions, including:

  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Allergies
  • Nasal masses or polyps
  • Dental disease
  • Nasal foreign body

A bloody nasal discharge is never normal and could indicate several conditions, including clotting disorders, diseases, cancer, or toxin ingestion.

person cleaning cats nose
Image Credit: NONGASIMO, Shutterstock

What Should I Do If My Cat Has a Runny Nose?

Call your veterinarian if you notice your cat has a runny nose rather than just a wet one. A nasal discharge is often just one sign of illness you’ll see. Other concerning signs include:

Your vet will examine your cat and ask for a health history, including the signs you’ve noticed and how long they’ve been occurring. They may suggest diagnostic tests like blood work, nasal swabs, or X-rays. Sometimes, diagnosing nasal problems requires more advanced testing or even a referral to a veterinary internal medicine specialist.

Depending on the results of these tests, your cat may need short or long-term medication, supplements, or even surgery.

cat and vets
Image Credit: Stock Asso, Shutterstock

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While it’s normal for your cat’s nose to be cold and wet, a runny nose could be a sign of something’s wrong. If you notice a nasal discharge or other signs of illness like those discussed in this article, it’s time for a trip to the vet.

Conditions such as upper respiratory infections can be contagious, so take precautions if you have more than one kitty at home. If you adopt a new cat, speak with your vet to discuss whether to quarantine them from the existing kitty for a week or so to prevent accidentally spreading diseases.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Photographerivanov, Shutterstock

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