Touching noses with your cats (or booping snoots as some might say) is a time-honoured tradition, both observed by cats and humans. Sometimes when touching noses, you might notice your cat’s nose is wet. Human noses do not get wet on the exterior in the same way a cat’s does, so it can be hard for us to interpret what this might mean for our cat.
There is some good news here. A wet nose in a cat is not a sign of sickness and is simply their way of regulating their body temperature. Humans sweat, dogs pant, and cats will lick their nose skin to cool it off.
Temperature alone isn’t the cause of a wet nose on a cat. Sometimes they might be sweating a bit too! Cats have a higher-than-normal body temperature and in a warm situation, it is not unusual.
Another wetter of the nose is the water bowl. Cats don’t have the same tongue scooping ability as a dog, and sometimes they really have to get their nose close to the water. If you’ve ever heard your cat sneeze right as they start to drink, it’s likely because their nose sucked up a bit of water as they approached the bowl.
What About Dry Noses?
Because of the way our cats regulate their body temperature, their noses will likely go from wet to dry many times throughout the day. There are some outside influences that affect cat nose moisture, such as a dry apartment, dry outdoor weather, humidity, and more.
Cats who spend a lot of time outside might experience a dry nose often due to the sun heating up and drying their skin.
One of the other major reasons for a dry cat nose is dehydration. A dehydrated cat will need medical care and if your cat is exhibiting several symptoms from the following list, and you believe them to be hydrated, you should call your veterinarian.
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Sunken eyes
- Elevated heart rate
- Skin elasticity
Runny noses, unlike wet noses, are a sign of illness or possible infection. Cats do not normally discharge mucus via runny noses, and this is a sign there could be something more serious at play.
One possibility is a respiratory infection, and if your cat is lethargic, constantly sniffling or sneezing, has watery, bulgy eyes, is starting to keep their inner eyelids closed more often than not, or they have bubbly or discoloured nasal discharge, it’s time to take them to the vet.
At the end of the day, you know your cat better than anyone else. If they are sick there will likely be other symptoms manifesting and you’ll be able to make a more informed decision. Pay attention to your cat and learn what their normal looks like. Deviations from their normal behaviour should be looked at and in some cases, they may need extra help from a professional.
As stated earlier, though, the good news is it’s normal for cats to alternate from having wet and dry noses numerous times throughout the day.