Ever Wonder Why Your Cat's Nose Is Wet and Cold? Vets Explain

You may be wondering why your cat's nose is typically wet — don't worry, it's no cause for concern.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Feb. 29 2024, Published 5:05 p.m. ET

A cat places its head under a faucet, which pours water on its tongue.
Source: iStock

If you're lucky enough to receive a famed head boop — or a love nibble — from your feline companion, you may be wondering why their nose is wet. Usually, most cats' noses feel a bit wet and cool.

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Our companion animals' noses are powerhouses, able to detect a substantial amount of smells that guide them through the world each day; it's imperative, then, that their sense of smell is working effectively and their noses are free from illness.

Let's dig in deeper to determine how to assess whether a cat's wet or dry nose is cause for concern. But remember, if your cat is displaying any worrisome signs, take them to the vet to be safe.

A brown tabby cat turns its head toward the sky with a green plant in the background.
Source: iStock
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Why is my cat's nose wet?

According to the Canada-based Corydon Animal Hospital, a wet nose boosts a cat's ability to more easily detect the various scents they may encounter by allowing scent particles to stick to the wet nose.

Also, just as sweat provides a cooling mechanism for humans in hot weather, evaporating moisture from a cat's nose provides a similar cooling effect, per Animal Friends Pet Insurance.

If your cat's nose is excessively wet, and they are displaying symptoms out of the norm, this may be a sign that an upper respiratory infection is present, according to the vet hospital. If you notice your cat is behaving differently than usual, and their nose appears excessively moist compared to their usual standard, it's best to visit the vet to ensure your cat's health needs are monitored.

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Also, according to Dr. Louise Barnes, MRCVS, in an article for Cats.com, serious medical conditions may cause an extra-wet nose. A vet can diagnose and assess whether an illness — or if your cat somehow got something stuck up their nose — requires immediate treatment.

A Tortoiseshell tabby cat smells the wind outdoors.
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Why is my cat's nose dry?

According to Arnold Plotnick, DVM in a Chewy blog post, while cats may typically have moist noses, how wet or dry their nose is isn't a sole indicator of their health. Furthermore, cats with severe dehydration may not necessarily have dry noses.

Per Dr. Plotnick, the red flag to be aware of is when a cat's lack of nose moistness occurs alongside other signs for which you'd take your cat to the vet, including excessive thirst or urination, or a change in appetite or weight.

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Just as excessive grooming is a potential behavioral red flag to be aware of, if you notice your cat licking their nose more frequently than usual, they may be trying to cope with nasal discharge from an infection. As a result, all of this extra saliva may end up drying out their nose, per Cats.com.

If you're in a colder climate and frequently run the heat to keep the home at a comfortable temperature, or if your cat simply enjoys laying in the sun, these are common, unconcerning situations leading to a cat's dry nose.

However, when the skin on a cat's nose begins flaking, according to Hill's Pet Nutrition, cat parents should seek the support of a vet.

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