What does it mean when your cat's nose is wet?
Questions About Cats

Why Do Cats Have Wet Noses?

What does a wet nose on a cat mean? It is mostly the byproduct of environment, behavior, and secretion levels. Some of the reasons for the excess moisture are entirely natural while others can be a symptom of a bacterial infection or viral condition. A moist nose is not a definitive indication that your cat is healthy or sick, so a multitude of other medical factors need to be taken into consideration.

If your cat’s nose is warm and dry, you should not need to be alarmed. Unless more worrisome health symptoms begin to emerge, it is likely that your cat’s nose just happens to be dry at that time. It is similar to how a human’s skin changes from day to day, the same is true of your cat’s nose. What is normal for your cat? Has the temperature of the room or weather changed recently?

In this article, we will explore the most common reasons why your cat has a wet nose and look at the most crucial factors to be aware of if you are particularly concerned that your cat is unwell.

Why Does My Cat Have a Wet Nose?

While it can be challenging to get an accurate read on your cat’s immune health and general well-being, there are genuine reasons why your cat’s nose is wet and not dry.

So, we will now take an in-depth look at the main reasons why it happens.

1) Environment

Although a moist, wet or dry nose “can” provide an indication of your cat’s health, it can also be a byproduct of your cat’s environment. Temperature and humidity are significant factors.

When the weather is warmer than the air breathed out through your cat’s nose, moisture will develop inside and outside of the nose. This can create dampness and the familiar feeling of a cold, moist nose when your cat’s nose touches your skin.

Why is my cat's nose running?

On the flipside, harsh winter conditions can deplete moisture from a cat’s nose. This is especially true if cold temperatures are met with harsh winds. This can lead to dryness or a dry nose with cracking.

2) Licking

What is the wet stuff on a cat’s nose? Because cats are constant groomers, a moist nose can be caused by licking the fur. Although saliva can dry up quickly, if your cat has a habit of licking its nose, the moisture coupled with a warm environment, is likely to be the explanation.

3) A Runny Nose

Different from a moistened nose, the reasons for a runny nose on a cat can be more complex.

Common among cats, a runny nose is often a symptom of an upper respiratory infection. This can be due to by bacteria and viral conditions. Upper respiratory infections are primarily the result of a herpes virus strain and the bacteria from chlamydia.

Upper respiratory issues like this occur regularly because cats are exposed to feline herpes. Similar to cold sores in humans, the viral strain never leaves the body. This means a viral outbreak can occur due to specific triggers over the course of a lifetime. This is why even the most isolated cats can fall victim to an upper respiratory infection and subsequent runny and dripping nose.

Notable symptoms of an upper respiratory infection may include…

  • A wet, runny or dripping nose
  • Watery or red eyes
  • Mucus discharge that can be clear or discolored

If your cat’s nose is naturally cool and moist to the touch, it can be difficult to determine if an upper respiratory infection could be about to occur. However, if you notice that your cat’s nose is extremely wet, rather than moist, that can be a crucial indicator. Look out for subtle changes because cats often keep health issues (both minor and major) concealed so as not to show weakness to predators.

  • Pay attention to your cat’s nose when he or she lowers its head. It is common for a liquid to drip from the nose when the head is tilted if an illness of this type has taken hold.

4) Water Bowl

This regularly occurs when the water is in short supply, and your cat had to stick its head deep into the bowl. Because fresh water is clear, some cats are unable to determine the water’s depth until contact is made. This can result in a slight “dunking” of the mouth and nose.

What does it mean when a cat has a wet nose?

Have you ever seen or heard your cat sneeze several times after drinking water? If so, there is a good chance that your cat submerged his or her face a little too deep in the water.

If you cat’s nose is soaked one moment and seemingly moist or dry the next, there is the likely explanation. The effects are only temporary.

Is a Wet Nose or Dry Nose a Greater Health Concern?

The belief that a moist nose defines whether a cat in good health is untrue. It is nothing more than an old wives’ tale that people have accepted and failed to correct over the years. It is apocryphal. This means that a statement is recognized as being factually accurate, but without any validity. You definitely need to assess other medical factors in order to determine if there is anything wrong.

The Humane Society of the United States stated that your cat’s nose should be clean. They also report that the moistness (coldness) or dryness of your cat’s nose depends on environmental temperature and activity level. A runny nose, sneezing, discharge, and pawing at the nose could be a symptom of illness.

If your cat has always had a dry nose, there is unlikely to be anything to worry about. However, if your cat has always had a moist nose, regardless of environment, and it suddenly becomes dry, this could be a sign of fever, illness or dehydration.

Some cats secrete more than others. These secretions (and the amount) can often change over time as the cat gets older. A wet (soaked and runny) nose can be more of a concern.

cat nose wet when purring

As it relates to the body temperature of a cat, the only true way to know is to have a vet take his or her temperature or do it at home with a rectal thermometer. On average, the core feline temperature ranges between 100 and 102-103 Fahrenheit.

Symptoms such as lethargy, minimal appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and the inability to engage are vital points of concern. How your cat’s nose feels and looks is less critical when attempting to diagnose a health ailment.

Here are some tips…

  • A wet or moist nose is irrelevant. A sudden shift from damp to dry (within hours) is a factor.
  • Look for other symptoms to indicate possible illness rather than just the feel of the nose. If your cat usually has a wet nose and it has suddenly turned bone dry with accompanying symptoms of lethargy, diarrhea, wheezing, etc. There might also be an issue if your cat begins sneezing, coughing, producing a discharge from the nose, etc.

What are the Causes of a Dry and Cracked Nose?

The primary cause of a dry and cracked nose is the environment. You may also notice that your cat’s nose changes color.

Relaxing in the sun can change the texture and moisture production of a cat’s nose. The hotter the weather, the drier and more cracked your cat’s nose will become.

Relaxing in a hot home environment during the winter can cause the same problem. As the climate changes from hot to cold, your cat’s nose will likely start to change.

Dryness of the nose is not as critical as the presence of scabs and sores. If you notice these issues, you should have your vet examine your cat to check for signs of dehydration as a cat can only survive for days without water. A scabbed and sore-filled nose with cloudy nasal discharge could be a symptom of a more significant health concern.