Genetics determines the color of your cat’s cute button-nose, which can be pink, black, liver-colored, or the same color as his fur. Nose color can also change due to temperature, age, injury or illness. Many times, Kitty’s change in nose color is just a normal phenomenon.
Normal Color Changes
Many cats have a pale pink nose, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that other nose colors are not normal. Your fur baby’s nose may change colors as he gets older, sometimes turning black to brown or black to pink. Gradual changes in nose color are typically due to a breakdown of tyrosinase, an enzyme used to produce pigment. These enzymes are also sensitive to temperature, often causing Kitty’s nose to fade in the winter (snow nose) and return to its normal color in the summer.
Signs of a Sick Nose
Color changes may not be enough to indicate a problem with your fur buddy. If you notice your cat pawing at his nose or experiencing nasal swelling, discharge or nosebleeds, these could be signs of a foreign object, tumor or irritant in the nasal passages. Kitty may also exude an offensive odor from the nose area, and his breathing may be labored. Some pet parents become concerned when they find pigmented spots on their cat’s nose. These spots are usually harmless and comparable to the freckles of humans, notes veterinary dermatologist Adam Patterson of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
Diseases of the Cat Nose
Hyperpigmentation of the nose can occur for many reasons and should always be diagnosed by your vet. Allergies, bacterial infections, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease can cause changes to the surface of the nose. As the skin on the nose thickens and crusts, changes in nose color can occur. Pemphigus foliceus, an autoimmune skin disease, can cause red patches of skin on the nose and ears. As the disease progresses, these red patches may spread to other parts of the body. Your cat’s odd change in nose color could be as innocent as a scab or small injury or as serious as skin cancer.
Maintaining Nose Health
As part of your home wellness check, examine Kitty’s nose for changes in color, shape and texture. Also look for signs of illness or injury, including discharge, swelling or crusting. Since cats are prone to sunburn on their sensitive ears, noses and around their eyes, it’s important to limit their sun exposure during the peak hours of midday. If you recognize a problem with your cat’s nose, promptly bring your pet to the vet.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in northern New York, Brandy Burgess has been writing on pets, technical documentation and health resources since 2007. She also writes on personal development for YourFreelanceWritingCareer.com. Burgess' work also has appeared on various online publications, including eHow.com. Burgess holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer information systems from DeVry University and her certified nurses aid certification.