We’ve been brought up to believe that if our cat’s nose is anything other than cool and wet there’s a problem. That’s not entirely true, because both cat and dog noses can be warm and dry or cool and wet at almost any time of the day or year without it meaning they are ill. Noses also change colour quite frequently, and there are perfectly healthy reasons for that too. Dr. Issam Kadri gives some tips on when you need to worry about your cat’s nose:
Yes: When it’s dry, crusty and cracking
This 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. This condition starts with patches of red skin on the cat’s face, nose and ears. It can spread to other parts of your cat’s body, such as the paw pads, and cause the nails to fall out. The condition is serious, and by the time you notice more than the crusty nose it could be in an advanced stage.
No: When it changes colour
A cat’s nose can change colour for many reasons, including:
- Colder weather
- Scrapes or abrasions
While your cat’s nose is mostly determined by the colour of her fur, cats that spend time outdoors in cold weather may end up with a faded nose. This is caused by the breakdown of tyrosinase, a temperature-sensitive enzyme that creates pigment in the nose.
Cats with light-coloured noses could also develop black spots as they grow older, which is due to a condition called lentigo simplex. The condition is a normal aspect of aging and isn’t cause for concern, unless your kitty has any other problematic symptoms along with the spots.
Yes: If you notice a discharge
A discharge of any description is always cause for concern, because it may be a symptom of illness, something stuck in the cat’s nostril, a polyp/tumour or an infection. Discharges can be clear, blood-tinged or mucus-like, and any of these could be a problem. Allergic reactions could cause your kitty to sneeze and paw at her nose.
Yes: If your cat is having difficulty breathing
Difficulty breathing requires an immediate visit to your veterinarian, whether you suspect a nose problem or something else. Nasal tumours and polyps can grow large enough to interfere with breathing through the nose, but it’s unlikely to happen overnight. A foreign object stuck in the nose could cause this type of problem, particularly if it’s large enough to affect both nostrils. Don’t waste time wondering what the problem could be if your cat has breathing problems!
Yes: If you notice swelling or damage to the nose
A swelling could be the result of a tumour or polyp, a foreign object or an infection, all of which are cause for concern. If you notice damage to your cat’s nose such as cuts or tears, you’ll need to determine how it could have happened and whether it requires treatment or not. If the damage is a scrape or abrasion, looks healthy and clean and isn’t inflamed, you can keep a close eye on it to see how it progresses. If it appears painful, crusty or is discharging, get your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you suspect your cat has a nasal problem, contact us at Richmond Hill Animal Hospital using this form and we’ll let you know whether you need to bring her in.