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Why Are Cats Noses Wet? Is This Normal or Should You Worry?

A cat’s nose can be used as a reasonable indication of their health and how warm they are. Their nose is usually wet from sweat. Cats don’t sweat all over their bodies as humans do, and this is one area where they can produce sweat to regulate temperature.

While a wet nose might be considered healthy or normal, a dry nose can be more of a cause for concern, but you shouldn’t jump to conclusions and assume that your cat is unwell if they do have a dry nose.

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Are Cats Supposed to Have a Wet Nose?

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Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

If your cat headbutts you or rubs their nose against your hand while you’re petting them, you may have noticed that they have a wet nose. This doesn’t mean that they have a cold, nor it isn’t a sign that they are healthy.

In fact, a cat’s nose is usually wet because of sweat production. Cats cannot sweat from the whole of their body as people can. Their nose, along with the pads of their feet, is one of the few places where they do sweat from. This is why cats leave damp footprints in the summer; they get hot, and to self-regulate temperature, they sweat from their paws. Some of the dampness may also come from your cat’s tear ducts.

One incredible thing about a cat’s wet nose is that it actually helps improve their sense of smell. The feline sense of smell is already incredibly acute, but the dampness of their nose traps scent molecules, which gives the cat longer to sniff and to identify the smell.

It is important to protect your cat’s nose. They have 200 million scent receptors, which is as many, if not more, than dogs. They can smell if food is bad, identify and track prey, and identify another cat encroaching on their territory. Also, no two cat noses are alike: They are as unique as human fingerprints.

Reasons That Your Cat Might Have a Dry Nose

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Image Credit: Shadowmeldphoto, Wikimedia

There are some occasions when your cat’s nose might feel dry and warm. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re ill, but it does warrant further investigation.

Cats love dry and warm spots. They especially like laying in sunspots, on top of heaters, and high up in naturally warm spots. If your cat was on the radiator, there is a good chance that it is the cause of their nose being dry, and it will dampen again soon.

Some cats simply have drier noses than others, so your kitty may be one of the ones with a rough-feeling dry nose.

It is worth noting, however, that cats are not the best water drinkers. Some get the moisture that they require from food and other sources, and others struggle with the concept of drinking from a water bowl. In these cases, your cat can become dehydrated over the day, and this can lead to them having a dry nose. Ensure that your cat does drink water and get enough fluid every day.

When You Should Be Concerned

close-up of nose and mouth of a cat
Image Credit: Photographerivanova, Shutterstock

There are a few occasions when a dry cat nose is worrisome. Look for additional symptoms such as runny eyes, sneezing, or a loss of appetite. You know your cat and their typical behavior better than anybody else, so are they acting out of character?

Such symptoms could mean that your cat has a respiratory infection. These are similar to colds and will usually disappear within a week. However, multiple symptoms, extreme symptoms, or lingering symptoms could be a sign of something deeper and more troubling and would warrant veterinary consultation.

Sunburn is another potential cause of a dry nose. Cats have less fur on their noses, so they are quite exposed to the sun’s hot rays, especially if your cat is a sun worshipper. This is especially a problem with white cats because their fur is thinner and their noses pinker. Apply a safe sunscreen, close the blinds where your cat usually chooses to sit, and keep your cat out of the hottest rooms during peak sun hours to avoid sunburned noses.

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Why Are Cats Noses Wet?

Cats have wet noses because they sweat from this area to self-regulate their body temperature. A wet nose is not usually a cause for concern, and while a dry nose could be indicative of illness, it is usually just a sign of something else. For example, your cat may have actually licked the sweaty secretion from their nose, or they have may have dried it out by sitting too close to the radiator.


Image Credit: Annashou, Shutterstock