Bengal Nose

Bengal Nose - a comparison between a good nose and an affected nose - photo copyright Helmi Flick
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Bengal Nose – a comparison between a good nose and an affected nose – photo copyright Helmi Flick

This page was first written, as I recall, in around 2009. It has been updated on more than one occasion including today June 5, 2022 at which point I have republished it. My understanding of the cause of Bengal nose is that it is an inherited genetic condition but I welcome the viewpoint of others in comments, please.

Bengal Nose refers to a condition, which is a dry, crackly nose leather reported by breeders and in a research paper. It is not as far as I am aware a medical term. The nose leather (for people not in the cat fancy) is the end of the nose for a cat. Some breeders think the condition is caused by an incorrect diet in which there is a shortage of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). In that case rubbing vitamin E oil on the nose alleviates the condition. At least one vet diagnosed it as a food allergy, which was cleared up by a change in diet incorporating a different protein level.

However, a research article emanating from Sweden tells a different story. Diet may be a factor but there are other causes. There is also the question as to whether this condition is inherited from the Asian Leopard cat, the wild cat ancestor to the Bengal cat. For the time being, it is the research paper that tells us something about this disease. Perhaps more work is required? Or more cat breeder input.

The research was self-funded and is entitled, “A novel ulcerative nasal dermatitis of Bengal cats” – Author: K. Bergvall. The author refers to the condition as a unique dermatitis that affects Swedish Bengal cats. It, in fact, seems to affect non-Swedish Bengal cats too. The work was carried out on 48 cats over the period 1999-2003. This is many years ago and it surprises me that it has only now being talked about. Perhaps I (and others) was unaware of it but breeders (or some breeders) were aware of it and didn’t discuss it. How prevalent is it? Not sure, but of the 48 cats presented to the researcher 6 had crusts, fissures, erosions and ulcers of the nasal planum. That represents 12.5% of the total. The current percentage may be lower. Planum means “A plane or flat surface”. Nasal means “pertaining to the nose”. That doesn’t exactly tell me the area we are talking about but as it is the nose leather (info from breeders – above) it must refer to the flat surface at the end of the cat’s nose.

The condition was found to start at 4 months to 1 year of age. Antibiotics did not work. Salicylic acid improved the lesions in one of two cats treated. Prednisolone (a synthetic steroid similar to hydrocortisone – it is used as an anti-inflammatory drug and is an immunosuppressive drug) proved effective in curing one cat and partially cured another. Steroids are, as far as I am aware, a last resort in treatments as they can cause side effects. Some breeders wouldn’t consider steroids to be suitable to control this condition, for an otherwise healthy kitten.

The most successful drug in treating “Bengal Nose” was Tacrolimus ointment. This is an immunosuppressive drug used with corticosteroids to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs in humans. This drug decreased the lesions in 4 cats. Lesion means “discontinuity of tissue”. In this case it means that the nose leather is not cut but made up of broken tissue as a result of the condition.

The researcher speculated that it was an inherited disease and one linked to the immune system of the cat. Cat breeding can lead to defective immune systems and higher levels of ill health in purebred cats. It is well known that purebreds generally live shorter lives that Moggies, on average. Inbreeding depression is a description of immune system malfunction or an immune system not working to full effect. Bengal Nose may be linked, therefore, to inbreeding in Bengal cats but this is pure speculation by me. It is, though, recognized that the Bengal breed has been developed from a small number of founding individual cats. Also, the fact that the problem has no known environmental or dietary cause (i.e. it cuts across a variety of circumstances) and does not respond well to usual medication except as described above indicates a genetic illness.

There is no reference to it in Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated, a recommended book.

It there anyone who can shed light on Bengal Nose?

Update June 10, 2021: The Institute of Genetics refers to this condition as “nasal hyperkeratosis”. It’s not completely clear that this is the condition called ‘Bengal Nose’ which can be suffered by Bengal cats but they state that it has been recognised for more than 10 years and is mainly reported in Bengal and Egyptian Mau cats. They say that it is an inherited disease. In other words, it is a disease caused by inheriting defective genes. They say that the mode of inheritance is unclear by which, I presume, they mean that the not sure whether the gene is dominant or recessive. On their website they were asking for help from readers to send in blood samples so that they could do some research on this and better understand the condition. Their article is undated but I think that it was written some time ago.

This page, written by me, was published in 2017 and there is precious little according to a Google search on the causes of Bengal Nose. There are quite a few posts on the website from Bengal cat owners reporting that their cats suffer from this condition. It is probably not that uncommon and therefore something needs to be done about it.

I believe that the fact that nothing or little has been done is indicative of an inbreeding issue with the cat breeders. If they are unwilling to address the problem (which seems to be the case) nothing will change.

Update June 5, 2022: I have just bumped into another study on this topic. It is titled: Juvenile idiopathic nasal scaling in 3 Bengal cats.

The conclusion of the scientists was that “an underlying congenital condition is suspected that manifests with high epidermal cell turnover and normal keratinisation”.

My interpretation of that is the cause is an inherited genetic condition which results in the cells of the nose being produced and shared at a higher rate than normal. This smaller squares up as I recall with what I said above and I suspect, without being critical, that this is a selective breeding process. Selective breeding is controlled inbreeding to fix appearance characteristics. When humans play with natural selection and indulgent artificial selection, another term for selective breeding, they are liable to end up with this sort of result.

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Bengal Nose

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Dec 06, 2011 Bengal Nose Solution
by: Wrenaria

I had this problem with my Bengal cat and the solution we found with our vet was tacrolimus. You can read more about our experience here.

It’s a prescription ointment, so it is not a cheap upfront cost, but a tube of tacro will probably last us at least a year. Totally worthwhile.

Dec 01, 2011 sierra
by: Anonymous

We have had sierra for a little over a year now. She is 6 years old. The weather started to turn cold and my husband noticed half her nose was dry and cracked. We did some research and heard about bengal nose. The next day we put neosporin on it. The next day i looked over as she was cleaning herself and it was bleeding. we added more neosporin to it. We cant take her to the vet for a few more days until we get paid. It doesn’t seem to bother her. I feed her indoor science diet. From what i have read is most of them get it at a few months old then it goes away. the side of her nose that is affected always had a funny look to it. i thought it had been from the previous owner. But it was soft. She lets us add the stuff to her nose with out any problems so far. I worry about taking her to the vet. when i got her from petsmart she was so stressed out it took over a month before she stopped losing hair in clumps. Nothing has changed in her food. It was colder last winter than this one and it didnt happen. Im not sure what to do for her until we can take her to the vet or if they can do anything.

Sep 13, 2011 Bengal nose thoughts & observations
by: Anonymous

Bengal nose does not for the whole part seem to bother the cats involved. It often has dissapeared on my kittens whom got it around the time the nose leather changed from black to brick. I remember the Asian Leopard is mainly a protein eating cat (birds) who also eats alot of fish probably ocasionally lizards or bugs when times are sparse, does this mean thier ancestors should have higher protein fresh uncooked meat? Calling Bengal nose a “disease” is to me a far off stretch as the cats are not bothered nor does it seem to affect their overall health. As for breeding about 1/3 kittens of my litters have had Bengal nose at some time or another, I dont fail to recognize it is always arriving almost immediately after the first shots, (caused by the immunization?)

2 in a litter may develope it and 2 may not, all cats I have kept from said litters, it has cleared up by the time they turn 14-15 months but they tend to be more boogery than my other cats who never developed it.

My kittys that do have it seem extremely healthy and loved though I would not show them until it clears.

It is possibly the nose leather because of the genetic code has a hard time changing over from the black to the nose color it will become and it could be one of the components in the immunizations themselves cause an irritation or the immune system response to those immunizations which I highly suspect, it could also be the dietary needs are not met as far as oils, pure raw protein.

I really wish more studies could be done on it as a non disease but a condition (like chapped lips or hang nails we dont dub them diseases) and possibly studies on a holistic approach via diet, suppliments to see if this will make a difference. I myself am working on a few things and will post if I find any of them helpful but to put the scare into people over the dreaded Bengal nose is quite ludicrous it is one of the minor incoveinces we face to have a hybrid animal and hopefully one we can find the cause and alleviate it.

by the way may it be noted we have 6 spayed and nuetered bengals who roam free on our 180 acres they have never had Bengal nose and I often catch them eating grass and bugs….

Jul 10, 2011 Re:Sorry but..
by: Anonymous

Hi Michael,

Contrary to popular belief being a breeder of purebred animals does not mean that a person must give up all moral obligations. As a general rule, most breeders are concerned about the illnesses present within the breed they work with just as much as the owners of the pets they sell to.

With this said, the very idea of a purebred is one in which people choose to isolate specific traits and features by limiting the gene pool. If genetic illnesses are present in the breed, it should be brought to the attention of those who are interested in the breed itself. The same could be said for HCM in the bengal breed, or hip dyslpasia in the Maine Coon.

As a bengal breeder myself, in the past six years of breeding I have seen this condition appear on a few of my cats on occasion. Though it’s something that I definitely agree is undesirable, it is generall classified as a cosmetic fault (like a kinked tail or crossed eyes) and is not life threatening.

It neither hinders a cat’s quality of life nor does it cause an lowered immune system/increase in illness. And in most instances, it seems to be seasonal at best, as many of the cases I’ve been reported by my pet buyers it seems to come and go. A good diet with supplements and lack of grain seems to have worked best for the cases I’ve had.

Jul 02, 2011 Surolan Drops
by: Michael

Suralon worked for one Bengal cat. This drug is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal combi drug. Seek veterinary advice before use.

I think the anti-inflammatory element works but this drug does not cure the underlying cause.

That is just a personal and untested view – a guess essentially.

Jul 02, 2011 Sorry but..
by: Michael

Response to last comment. I am sorry but I get the uneasy feeling that your comment is not genuine but one designed to water down the potential impact of this article on the popularity of the Bengal cat.

I may be wrong and if so I apologise but…

Jun 19, 2011 My Bengal had Dry Nose
by: Anonymous

Hi all, just sharing my story. I have 2 bengals, both 6 years old now. When my male bengal was about 6 months old, he developed the horrible crusty nose. No one at the time had even heard about such and problem and my vet was stumped. I did a lot of research and came across a few articles and other info, but not as much as you can find now. We tried some steroid cream, but it only made it marginally better. Then we just used neosporin for a while to keep it moist and prevent infection. Then, almost as suddenly as it appeared, the dry nose just went away when he was about a year old. The odd thing was that his nose went from being black, to deep pink, and it has been that way for the last 5 years. No recurrence of dry nose either. Hope others have the same experience I did. It sure was scary while he had the condition!

Jun 19, 2011 Response to last comment
by: Anonymous

Nice comment but I am not sure that your intentions are genuine. Very sorry if that sounds horrible or if I am wrong. But I don’t think it is a problem that is as easy to eradicate as you suggest. My feeling is that it is linked to breeding.

Mar 22, 2011 Bengal nose
by: Debby

I received my new stud @ 5 mo. old. He had a very crusty nose. He had just gotten over months of ring worm, so his immune system was weakened. I was lead to believe that it was caused by the nasal vaccine that was given to him. He came down with the same symptoms as he was being vaccinated for. With CS, lycine, neosporine on his sore nose , he got over it in about 4-6 wks. Never showed up again. Different diet might have helped. I think he was raised on Iams.. None of his kittens have had it and hes a great guy 🙂

Dec 28, 2010 Begal Nose
by: Anonymous

I bought a kitten for stud purposes, when he was 5 mo. old. He had sore, crusty, scabby nose, when I got him. I was concerned, and I treated him with lycine, and Collodiol Silver. He had just gotten his 3rd vacsine , and it was the nasal type. He seemed to have come down with the virus he was being vacsinated for. He had also,was just getting over ringworm. I think his immune system was already low. He came out of the “bengal nose” in a month, and has been healthy, and is a great stud for his mate. The kittens are healthy. I do not recommend the nasal vacsinations. I get the shots at the vet clinic now.

Nov 12, 2010 Bengal nose 5 month kittens
by: Anonymous

our bengals had it but it appears to be getting better since I have switched away from a food with grians etc to one with higher proiein…

Feb 06, 2010 bengal nose
by: Anonymous

My cat definately has this and has had since only a few months.Whilst it does not affect him seriously bathing it seems to bring him some comfort. would it be okay to use vitamin e oil to soften it up for him as it really does look painful and the vets were absolutely useless.

Nov 13, 2009 Hi – response to last comment
by: Michael

I am not a breeder. The problem is hard to cure because it is associated with the immune system. That then makes it severe. But it is not (it seems) a major debilitating disease/illness so in that way it is not severe.

I think vets prescribe ointments and the like that keep it in check and comfortable without curing it.

I don’t think steroids are appropriate because of the side effects for long term use.

Nov 10, 2009 my cat
by: alisha

Im pretty much definitely sure my bengal has it. How severe is this?

Oct 15, 2009 what
by: Anonymous

hi i need help with my science project — what other genetic diseases?

Answer: I made a post on the blogger site that lists genetic diseases for cat breeds:


Sep 01, 2009 Response to last comment
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

Yes, if it is an inherited condition that affects the immune system then I think it would be irresponsible to breed from him. If in doubt don’t breed is my view because it may affect the offspring and their offspring and perpetuate the problem to the detriment of the breed generally.

Aug 31, 2009 bengal nose in studs
by: Anonymous

I have a bengal stud whom is 8 months old so i havn’t bred from him as yet. However i am positive he has bengal nose. i did not breed him myself he was purchased and bought into my cattery. should i not breed with him will this condition be passed on through his kittens?

26 thoughts on “Bengal Nose”

  1. HELP PLEASE! What food specifically do you feed your bengals? I need to change my bengals diets. They have diarriah and the crusty bengal nose 🙁

    • Further to my response on the diarrhea, I have noticed that Bengals are known to have sensitive stomachs and are prone to diarrhea and smelly poop. I have seen various reasons for this including the one I mentioned. You might wish to see a vet about it. This will be an inherited health issue as is the crusty nose problem. The pretty Bengal cat is not wonderfully healthy.

  2. HELP PLEASE! What food specifically do you feed your bengals? I need to change my bengals diets. They have diarrhea and the crusty bengal nose 🙁

    • Thanks S. It is a shame that Bengal cats have this disease to contend with. Such a beautiful cat but not so beautiful with a crusty nose. I wonder if they feel ill. Does the condition have any other effect on the cat in addition to the crusty nose. A fair question, I think.

  3. I change the sand in the pee box and the dray nose is gone so happy for that ,had trayed every produkts but no results so Softcat pure nature was the best to bay!


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