Cat Dry Nose: When to Be Concerned

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Cat parents frequently ask if a dry, warm nose means their cat is sick. The short answer is no. But if you're used to feeling a wet cat nose when your kitty gives you kisses, you may worry if she suddenly has dry nose. A healthy cat's nose can vary between wet and dry several times over the course of a day. And there are many reasons your cat can have a dry, warm nose that have nothing to do with health. Here are a few:

  • Too much time spent near a heat source, such as a vent or lying in the sun
  • Saliva from grooming
  • Poor air circulation in the home

What Else Should I Look for if My Cat Has a Dry Nose?

Examine your feline friend for any of these symptoms:

  • Flaky, crusty, swollen or damaged skin tissue
  • Unusual nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Warm skin

Dry skin that's also crusty can be more than just a dermatological issue and "could indicate the presence of sores or blisters, which pop and ooze. These can be the result of an autoimmune disease such as Pemphigus complex," explained Dr. Kari. "This condition starts with patches of red skin on the cat's face, nose and ears." Swelling or other nose damage can be caused by scratches and bumps (after all, cats do love jumping, climbing and tussling), but on the other end of the spectrum, these may indicate a foreign object, polyps or a tumor. Contact your vet right away with any concerns.

Close-up of gray cat's noseA healthy cat's nasal discharge is clear, which you'll see when she has the occasional sneezing fit, says Dr. Mike Paul, a veterinarian at Pet Health Network. A constant runny nose and/or discolored mucus, however, is cause for concern and can be an early sign of an upper respiratory infection. According to Dr. Paul, "If your cat's sneezes are more than occasional or are accompanied by blood or mucus, or if your cat has a concurrent discharge from [her] eyes or also has a cough, the sneeze may be a sign of more significant problems." Respiratory infections are not uncommon in cats — they can even contract the flu virus — and early intervention goes a long way to keeping her healthy.

Though somewhat common, respiratory infections can lead to more serious health issues and signs, including difficulty breathing. Similarly, a very warm, dry nose could indicate a fever or infection, so it's best to take your cat to the vet right away in these instances.

Treatment Options for Cat Dry Nose

There are over-the-counter remedies, such as creams and ointments, for issues like a dry nose, but prior to treating your cat, contact the vet's office for recommendations.

For most dermatological issues, including dry nose (and even hair loss) due to excessive grooming, the vet may prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medications to help prevent infection.

Other cat health issues, including respiratory infections and disease, require further consultation with your vet about treatment options.

The good news is that when a cat's nose is dry, cat parents need not worry unless she presents unusual signs or symptoms. As always, keep an eye on her to see if any new symptoms develop; if they do, contact your vet as soon as possible to rule out any underlying health problems. With proper treatment, your fur baby will lead a long, healthy life.

Contributor Bio

Christine O'Brien

Christine O'Brien

Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.

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