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Why Is My Cat’s Nose Dripping When Purring? 4 Reasons & FAQ

person cleaning cat's nose
Image Credit: NONGASIMO, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Chelsea Mortensen

Have you ever been quietly petting a purring cat, only for it to stick a wet, sticky nose in your hand? The first time it happens, this might seem like a random coincidence. But if your cat’s nose is constantly wet or dripping when it purrs hard, you might wonder if there’s more going on. The truth is that yes—some cats do get drippy noses when they purr. This isn’t a particularly common trait, but it isn’t rare, either.

Although we don’t know all the reasons why this happens, there are a few common causes. Here are the top reasons why your cat’s nose might be dripping when they purr.


The 4 Reasons Why Cats’ Noses Get Wet When They Purr

1. Purring Can Cause Sweaty Noses

Cats’ nose pads are hairless and have lots of sweat glands, serving as part of your cat’s temperature regulation system. That’s why cats often have a slightly damp nose. But hot weather isn’t the only thing that can trigger a sweaty nose. Purring is also known to activate sweat glands, dampening the nose. And if your cat is particularly sweaty, this might even be enough to make water drip from your cat’s nose!

pink cat nose closeup
Image Credit: Annashou, Shutterstock

2. It May Be a Callback to Kittenhood

Kitten’s noses drip more than adult cats, and it’s common for mother cats to lick their noses clean. As gross as it sounds to us, runny noses might be a pleasure response in some cats! When they feel safe, happy, and comfortable, it brings them right back to being home safe with their mother. This response is uncommon but not abnormal, and cats who have “happy dripping” often will get a runny nose when they purr or knead.

3. Drippy Noses Can Be Drool-Related

If your cat is a drooler, that can extend to the nose, too. Sometimes especially drooly cats will have drippy noses when they salivate. As to why your cat is drooling, it may be a pleasure response, in anticipation of an upcoming meal, or just genetics. Generally, drooling and dripping noses are more common in senior cats and kittens than in mature adults.

cat drooling
Image Credit: Ling_Chen, Shutterstock

4. It Could Be A Minor Illness, Allergy, or Irritation

Finally, it’s possible that the purring and dripping are unrelated. Runny noses can be caused by a number of minor ailments. Your cat may have a specific allergy that’s causing the symptom. It also could be a sign of a common cold or minor respiratory infection. Irritation is another cause of dripping noses—if your cat inhales something that irritates its nasal cavities, runny noses can ensue.

yarn ball dividerFrequently Asked Questions

Are Runny Noses a Sign of Poor Health?

Like humans, runny noses are normal in cats. They can be a sign of allergy, infection, or illness, but most runny noses aren’t a cause to worry about. Runny noses can also happen for benign reasons such as changes in temperature and humidity.

How Should I Treat a Cat’s Runny Nose?

Most of the time, there’s not much you can do to treat your cat’s runny nose at home. Gently cleaning your cat’s nose and any stained fur with a cotton ball dipped in saline solution or warm water can help deal with the symptoms of a runny nose, but you’ll have to wait for it to go away on its own. Don’t ever try to stick something up your cat’s nose to clean it or clear it out—just wait for the congestion to resolve itself.

When Should I Go to the Vet?

A runny nose on its own isn’t a cause to be concerned about, but it can be a signal to look for other symptoms of illness, especially if it’s persistent. Redness around the eyes, swelling or irritation, frequent sneezing, thick, unusual nasal discharge, and signs of pain can also be signs that your cat is sick. If these symptoms persist or your cat’s illness seems to be impacting its quality of life, a vet visit might be in order.

More serious symptoms include bloody or greenish nasal discharge, lethargy, a poor appetite, serious swelling, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms can be signs of more dangerous illnesses than a small cold or infection.

vet checking a white cat's face
Image Credit: MakeStory Studio, Shutterstock

divider-catclaw1Last Thoughts

Drippy noses aren’t fun, but they usually aren’t dangerous, either. In fact, if your cat’s nose drips when it purrs, there’s a good chance that it’s a sign of pleasure. It could also be a simple physiological response. There’s not much you can do to stop it, but at least you can take comfort in knowing that your cat is normal and happy, even if it has a slightly gross way of showing it!

Featured Image Credit: NONGASIMO, Shutterstock

About the Author

Chelsea Mortensen
Chelsea Mortensen
Chelsea Flake Mortensen is a writer with a passion for cats. Growing up, she spent quite a bit of time around cats, along with a variety of other interesting pets. Chelsea holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Brigham Young University.

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