First things first: I’m talking about the “nose leather” (in cat fancy parlance), the flat bit at the front! Dr Yuki Hattori, who is in the news at the moment, writes in his book What Cats Want that a wet nose is a good sign provided she is healthy. He also writes that “a healthy cat’s nose will be slightly damp”. He says this because when a nose is damp it allows the cat to smell more effectively because scent molecules are more easily picked up by a damp nose.
He is, therefore, stating that the default position i.e. the standard situation regarding a cat’s nose leather is that it is damp. I completely disagree with him. I think he is confused. The standard condition for the end of a cat’s nose is that it is dry. It is certainly neither wet nor damp. It may be damp temporarily because a cat is engaged in displacement activity by licking his nose. Or it may be damp temporarily because of condensation on the nose leather. This may occur if a cat’s nose is cold and moist air has condensed on the nose. Or the cat’s breath exiting the nose has condensed on the end of the nose.
But, for example, an indoor cat living under normal conditions in the home will have a dry nose. It does not mean that the cat is dehydrated as Dr Hattori states. He says that when your cat is awake her nose should be slightly damp. I disagree. He says that if it is not damp your cat might be dehydrated. You should therefore encourage her to drink by changing the temperature of her water slightly.
Or if you’re cat’s nose is dry it may be because the ambient air is dry too. If the ambient air is too dry it may cause the mucous membranes in the nose to dry out. This may lead to “an immune deficiency and a cold”.
Well, I don’t want to disagree with this respected, renowned and well known Japanese veterinarian who is somewhat of a celebrity, but I do disagree with him on this points. I just checked my cat’s nose leather and it is completely dry and he is completely healthy.
It may benefit the argument to think about the human nose. Under normal conditions a human’s nose is not damp or overly dry. It is neutral. It is dry to the touch. If a person goes out in very cold weather the breath coming out of their nose will make the end of the nose damp but this is a simple physical property and has nothing to do with health.
There is far too much discussion about whether a cat’s nose should be dry, damp, wet or anything else. Common sense should prevail. Under normal conditions it is dry if the cat is healthy. If the cat has a cold it becomes runny and wet. If the conditions are cold, as mentioned, there may be moisture on the end of the nose because of condensation. Enough with whether a wet cat nose is good or bad!