Categories: nose

Should a cat have a cold wet nose?

I guess we are discussing domestic cats. I ask because the title was created by Google based on real searches.

In my opinion it is not a great idea to try and diagnose a domestic cat’s health from the warmth and dryness of their nose leather. It is a rather vague way to do it.

Typical healthy nose – dry and warm. Picture in public domain with words addded by PoC.

For instance the environment can influence the condition of the nose. A nose can be moist if there is condensation dripping from it just like the noses of people when they walk in very cold weather. Condensation occurs when the warm, moist air of the lungs hits the cold of the outside. Water condenses and drips from the nose. A healthy cat who has visited the outside on a very cold day may have a slightly wet nose because of this.

Also, a cat may have a wet nose because he has a cold resulting in a discharge. This should be fairly obvious. But I don’t think the question in the title is referring to feline URIs. It is a question about the general state of a cat’s nose in default mode.

In warmer ambient conditions a cat’s nose will be warm and dry. It’ll be warm because the air is warm and it’ll be dry because there is nothing happening to make it wet. In general terms, a warm dry nose is the sign of a healthy cat. But this not a 100% diagnosis as a cat might be dehydrated and have a fever. This would also produce a warm, dry nose leather.

I don’t think cat owners should be obsessing about whether their cat’s nose is dry or wet or cold or warm. Common sense says that it will normally be like other parts of a healthy cat’s exterior anatomy under normal conditions: dry and warm.

P.S. A cat’s pink nose may become white due to anaemia or because it is very cold or because the cat is excited. A cat’s nose leather can be a range of colours from pink to brown, black, freckled or slate blue. Cats with pink noses are more likely to suffer from squamous cancer of the ears and nose particularly if they are outside cats in bright, hot sunlight.

Interesting fact: a cat’s sense of smell is 14 times more sensitive than ours. Cats recognise their world through their sense of smell.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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