Why Is My Cat's Nose Wet?
Are cats' noses supposed to be wet? Sometimes you may "boop" your cat's or kitten's nose and realize the little snout is wet. But are cat noses supposed to be wet? The answer is yes, typically a cat's nose should be wet and not dry—just like a dog's nose. But it's actually a bit more complicated.
Cat's Noses Are Typically Wet for Picking up Scents
Cats' noses are typically wet, and they may even feel cool. The wetness of a cat's nose helps him pick up scents and determine where smells are coming from. This works similarly with dogs. Scent particles stick to wet surfaces more easily than dry ones, giving wet noses a distinct advantage.
Like dogs, cats have a scent gland above the roof of their mouths called the Jacobson's Organ. This allows them to detect odors by breathing through their mouths, and sometimes they hold their mouths open in a bit of a "sneer" to get a good whiff of scent in their mouths. This is called the flehmen response.1
Some people think cats may also lick their noses for a similar reason that dogs do: to get more scent particles to the Jacobson's Organ. But others think cats lick their noses to reset and remove residue that may interfere with their ability to pick up scents.2
A Dry Nose Doesn't Mean Your Cat Is Sick
If your cat's nose is dry or warm, this doesn't necessarily mean your cat is sick.3 If he recently groomed and licked his nose, then his nose might feel dry. It also might feel warm and dry if he's been sunning himself in a window. An extra dry nose might even mean your cat has developed a slight sunburn on his little snout.
Some cats naturally have a nose that is drier or warmer than you might be used to. On the flip side, your cat's nose might feel extra cold if he's getting too chilled. If it's really cold in your home, try a Self-Warming Kitty Sack or Nuzzle Nest. Or try a Thermo-Kitty Fashion Splash if you want a heated bed that plugs in. For outdoor cats in cold climates, try a Thermo Outdoor Kitty House.
Watch Your Cat's Actions for Signs of Sickness
Instead of focusing on whether your cat's nose is dry or wet, watch your cat's other actions.4 Talk to your veterinarian if she has less energy and is lethargic, eating less, acting extra thirsty, or showing symptoms of digestive issues.
If your cat's nose suddenly seems to change from its normal state and stays that way, you might want to chat with your vet as well. A warm nose might be normal for a brief period, or it could mean she has a fever or is dehydrated. If you think your cat isn't drinking enough, a fountain with running water might help. Or try a K&H CleanFlow Filtered Water Bowl for Cats with an attached large reservoir, so she doesn't run out of water.
Overly wet noses can also indicate an issue. If you notice your cat's nose is wetter than normal or has an abnormal discharge, this might mean she has a cold, allergies, or another issue. If your cat seems congested when breathing or displays a bit of a wheeze she didn't have before, you may need to see a vet.
While your cat's nose is typically going to be wet and slightly cool to the touch, a warm and dry nose doesn't automatically mean your cat has a problem. Just make sure your cat is well cared for and gets plenty of clean water and healthy food. If you see other signs of sickness combined with a change in your cat's nose, you might want to talk to your vet.
1. National Geographic Wild. "Cats Smelling with Their Mouths" Facebook.com, 24 October 2017, https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155708281300930.
2. Kelley, Jane A. "8 Interesting Facts about the Cat Nose and the Cat Sense of Smell." Catster, 13 October 2017, https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-facts-cats-noses-sense-of-smell-pictures-photos.
3. DeMarino, Nicholas. "Should a Cat's Nose Always Be Wet & Cool?" The Nest, https://pets.thenest.com/should-cats-nose-always-wet-cool-5552.html.
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