If you touch your cat’s nose, you will notice that it is usually moist. Fresh cat owners sometimes think their cat has a cold or the nasal discharge is due to some other illness. Of course, excessively wet noses may indicate that cats are sick, but this is not always true.
It is typical for cats to have wet noses. Most of the wetness on your cat’s nose is just sweat. Cats cannot sweat through their bodies. It can also be excessive drainage of tears from the cat’s lower tear ducts. Cats use this to balance their temperature and stay healthy. However, it is not a healthy sign if your cat’s nose is dripping wet or running profusely, as this indicates a nasal disease or infection. A foreign body in the nasal passage can also be an explanation.
So, cats usually have wet noses by nature. However, in some cases, it is also normal for a cat to have a dry nose.
Like wet noses, however, an excessively dry nose may indicate that your cat is dehydrated or ill. If so, be on the lookout for other symptoms as well.
Table of Contents
What is the Wet Stuff On Cats’ Noses?
Almost all cats have wet noses. You may notice the cold fluid running down your fingers when you touch them.
This wet fluid has an essential function in your cat’s daily life. The moisture on a cat’s nose is usually one of two things or both:
- Fluid drainage from the lower tear ducts.
The wet stuff on your cat’s nose is usually sweat. This is because cats can’t sweat out their bodies the way humans can.
Humans have sweat glands that are distributed all over the body. In contrast, cats have sweat glands that are concentrated in certain areas. These areas include:
- Paw pads
Cats regulate their body temperature by sweating through their nose. When the moisture evaporates from the nose, it helps cool the skin and the rest of the body. This lowers the cat’s body temperature.
The amount of sweat on a cat’s nose also varies throughout life. And it can also be more or less depending on the cat breed.
A cat’s body temperature is affected not only by its environment but also by the food it eats. Therefore, cats need to compensate for this by their wet noses.
Drainage from your cat’s lower tear ducts, another source of wetness in your cat’s nose, is normal. This drainage is caused by excess fluid in the eyes.
This fluid, called lacrimal fluid, is needed to protect your cat’s eyes.
Excess tear fluid is drained through the lower tear ducts in your cat’s eyes. They can add to the wet stuff that accumulates in your cat’s nose.
The tear drainage, in addition to the wetness in the nose, is accompanied by red or brown spots on the eyes. This sometimes makes it look like your cat has been crying.
However, she is not really crying then. Cats tend to express their feelings through sounds. So when your cat is watering, she is not upset but is draining the extra fluid.
Of course, drainage from your cat’s lower tear ducts is usually not a problem.
However, you should take your cat to the vet if she produces excessive fluid.
There may be an eye infection or a blockage in the tear ducts. This can lead to even worse eye problems if not treated.
What Does It Mean When Cats Have Wet Noses?
A cat’s nose is wet, mainly due to sweat, which helps it regulate heat. You may even notice that your cat’s nose is cold and wet.
This is usually nothing to worry about because the cold nose is just a sign of your cat’s thermoregulation. This is the cooling sensation needed to lower your cat’s body temperature when it’s too warm.
But is a wet nose good for cats? Aside from heat regulation, there is most definitely a benefit. The moisture in a cat’s nose helps it trap scent particles in the air.
These trapped scent particles in your cat’s nose can improve their sense of smell. This is important for cats because they rely on their sense of smell to:
- Marking territory
- Recognizing other cats, animals, or people
- Finding their way to food and water sources
Why is My Cat’s Nose Dripping?
However, you should be concerned if your cat’s nose is dripping. A cat’s nose should not be really wet or constantly running, as this is a sign that something is wrong.
A drippy nose has abnormal nasal discharge, which can be caused by any irritating or infectious agents. However, there are many other possible causes as well.
Possible causes of a drippy, wet cat nose include:
- Infectious pathogens in the nostrils
- Foreign bodies in the nose
- Weak immune system
- Dental disease
- Chronic vomiting
- Chronic ear infection, especially of the middle ear
Infectious agents in a cat’s nasal passages are among cats’ most common causes of sudden drippy noses.
Infectious agents include any virus or bacteria that can be transmitted to other cats or affect your cat’s health.
Any of these pathogens in your cat’s nasal passages can be problematic, as they can lead to further complications. This includes the development of upper respiratory infections (URIs). URIs are also known as feline rhinitis or feline upper respiratory disease complex (URDs).
Symptoms of Infection
A drippy nose is just one of the many symptoms of URIs. Other common symptoms include:
- Nasal discharge
- Eye discharge
- Inflammation of the eyelids (conjunctivitis)
Symptoms that are less specific for URIs but may accompany them include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Blinking (blepharospasm)
- Ulcers in the mouth
The discharge from your cat’s nose or eyes may be clear, cloudy, or even contain pus or blood. While not necessarily fatal, an upper respiratory infection can be contagious to other cats.
Depending on the pathogen your cat is infected with, your pet may become a chronic carrier. This means that it carries the pathogen throughout its life.
It may or may not show symptoms. Whether she shows symptoms or not, she can spread the infection to other cats at risk.
If your cat received the core vaccinations as a kitten, she is likely protected against the viral pathogens that can make her a chronic carrier.
However, a non-core vaccination protects against a specific type of upper respiratory infection. It is best to ask your veterinarian for advice, as administration will depend on your cat’s risk and infection status.
Should a Cat’s Nose Always Be Wet?
A cat’s nose should not always be wet. There are certain environmental conditions and situations where cat noses should be dry.
This does not mean that there is something wrong with your cat. In fact, your cat’s nose may alternate between wet and dry throughout the day.
Think about how your skin or even the moisture in your mouth changes depending on the time of day. It depends on the time of day and the activities you are engaged in.
It’s the same with your cat. Similar to wet noses. However, a fine line exists between a dry nose and possible illness. Watch for signs that your cat is unwell or in pain.
What Does It Mean When a Cat’s Nose is Dry?
Just because a wet nose is typical in cats doesn’t mean a dry nose indicates a disease. There are several reasons why your cat’s nose may not be moist, and many of them are harmless.
Low humidity is often associated with the onset of winter or the cold months.
Cold weather and low humidity can cause the moisture in your cat’s nose to evaporate. This can cause the cat’s nose to dry out.
Low humidity means that there is less water vapor in the air. Therefore, during winter, your cat’s nose is less likely to contain moisture.
Aside from the weather, low humidity can also be caused by heating devices.
The heat given off by these devices dries out the air and lowers the humidity. This also dries out your cat’s nose.
This is often the case if your cat likes to be near these heaters.
On the other hand, your cat’s nose can also become dry simply from being in the heat. Sunbaths are popular with many indoor cats because they are comfortable and can help them fall asleep.
So, your cat may be sunbathing or even sleeping by a sunny window or door for an extended period.
In the process, the moisture in the nose dries out due to the effect of the heat. This is normal, as water tends to evaporate in warm temperatures.
Probably the simplest explanation of all is that a cat’s nose can dry out while it sleeps. This is true even if your cat has just woken up from a long nap.
Cats don’t tend to lick their nose when they are resting. That’s why sweat or tears can dry up there.
When is a Dry Nose in Cats a Concern?
While a dry nose can be expected, it depends significantly on your cat’s living conditions and circumstances.
A dry nose is of concern if your cat’s nose is usually moist or suddenly becomes dry.
Some medical issues in cats start with a dry nose but can develop into something even worse if left untreated.
These medical problems include:
- Skin diseases
- Trauma such as physical injuries, insect bites, etc.
However, one cause of dryness is more typical for cats. It is much simpler than you think: dehydration.
Dehydration is one of cats’ most common yet problematic problems associated with extremely dry noses.
When your cat is dehydrated, the skin on and around its nose loses all moisture.
Here are other signs you may find in a dehydrated cat:
- Dry nose
- Cracked skin on and around the nose
- Dry, sticky gums
- Refusal to eat
- Sunken, cloudy eyes
- Constipation or abnormal-looking bowel movements
- Low heart rate
Under these circumstances, a dry cat’s nose should alert you that he is not well.
If you notice your cat exhibiting any of these symptoms, put a bowl of clean, fresh water out for him. This may be enough to get the cat back on track.
Ensure you provide your cat with clean, fresh water throughout the day. Checking your cat’s nose for normal wetness can help you determine if he is properly hydrated.
Should a Cat’s Nose Be Cold and Moist?
The moisture in your cat’s nose may well be an indication of her health. Cats have moist noses because:
- They regulate their body temperature
- It improves their sense of smell
- It drains tears from the cat’s lower tear ducts
As for a dry nose, ask yourself what your cat has been doing lately before worrying about her health.
Has she napped, been out in the sun, or been around heaters? What is the humidity level in your living areas?
Low humidity and sunlight can dry out the skin on your cat’s nose. Also, remember not to lick her nose when she has been sleeping.
Is a Wet Nose Good for Cats?
Just because your cat’s nose can help determine her health doesn’t mean it’s the only clue.
Other aspects may be even more telling about your cat’s health. Watch for these symptoms if your cat’s nose suddenly becomes dry or moist:
- Activity level
- Appetite and thirst
- Condition of the coat
- Bowel movements
- Condition of the eyes
- Abnormal lumps
- Scratching or grooming, especially excessive scratching
- Coughing or vomiting
Don’t ignore these signs. They are your cat’s way of letting you know how she is feeling.
As an owner, paying attention to your cat’s body and behaviors is essential so you know when something is wrong.
It is healthy and normal for cats to have a wet nose, but it should not be excessive.