Common Nose Problems in Cats

From common colds to serious medical conditions, cat nose problems run the gamut.
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Runny, stuffy or snotty, your cat's nose can alert you to related health issues. Many feline nose problems pass on their own, but some denote serious diseases. Watch your cat closely and try to keep him eating. Call a veterinarian if symptoms linger or worsen after a week.

Common and Uncommon Colds

If your cat's nose is runny or snotty, take a look at the discharge. If the mucous is clear, your cat probably has a cold. (Yes, cats catch colds, just like humans.) Sick cats often sneeze, too.

If your cat's condition lingers or worsens after a week, call a veterinarian. Your cat could have upper respiratory disease, most likely caused by feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus, or maybe bordetellosis. Prescription medicine may be in order.

If your cat's mucous is cloudy or bloody, call a veterinarian right away. This signifies a host of serious illnesses.


A clear, runny nose or congestion may signify allergies. Have you moved your cat's favorite pillow to a new spot? Changed his food? Or put new plants in the house? Try reversing any major changes. If this fixes your cat's runny nose, then he's probably allergic to one of those variables.

Allergies have a lot of overlapping symptoms with colds but, in general, most sick cats are more lethargic. Cats can become allergic to things that never previously bothered them, so don't rule out any possibilities. If problems persist, contact a veterinarian for testing.

Injuries, Growths and Other Factors

Some cats have topical nose issues that require close inspection. An injured nose -- mostly likely from a cat fight or accident -- may bleed or swell, causing your cat to paw at his nose. If it worsens, this can lead to a secondary infection.

Nose growths are more common in white cats, who are prone to certain skin cancers. Other growths may results can result from primary or secondary infections. Call a veterinarian if any growth is present.

Other Considerations

If your cat's nose is runny, stuffy or snotty for more than a week, call a veterinarian. Any condition that causes nose problems for more than that long could be serious.

Watch your cat for other symptoms. Many illnesses and diseases have overlapping symptoms, although anything that you think is a big deal is probably, in fact a big deal.

Your cat's appetite is strongly tied to his sense of smell. Cats with nose problems often stop eating, so you may have to warm up your cat's dinner or sprinkle it with tuna juice to stimulate his interest.

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.

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