If you “boop” your cat’s nose and realize it’s wet, it may come as a surprise. Are cats’ noses supposed to be wet? Yes, they are. Just like dogs, cats’ noses should be wet most of the time and not dry, but the reasons behind that can be complicated and may also vary depending on the outside temperature and humidity.
Find out why cats’ noses should be wet, what it means if your cat’s nose is dry, and what you should do about it.
Why Are Cats’ Noses Wet?
Cats’ noses are usually wet and cool, which helps them pick up scents and determine the source – just like dogs. Scent particles stick to wet surfaces more easily, which is why it’s an evolutionary advantage to have a wet nose.
Cats have a scent gland above the roof of their mouths, called the Jacobson’s organ. This organ helps them detect odors when they breathe through their mouths. Sometimes, they’ll open their mouths a little to take in the scent better, known as the flehmen response. If you’ve ever seen your cat look completely offended by a smell, you’re seeing this ability at work.
What if My Cat’s Nose Is Dry?
While cats’ noses should be wet and cool, a dry and warm nose doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem. If your cat recently groomed their nose, it could feel dry. Your cat’s nose may also be dry and warm if they were sunbathing outside or in a window.
In addition, some cats just have warmer or drier noses than others. Pay attention to what’s normal for your cat’s nose at different times and after different activities. Once you know what’s normal, you can identify problems.
What if My Cat Is Sick?
Contrary to popular belief, your cat’s nose moisture and temperature aren’t reliable indicators of whether they’re sick. Instead, you should pay attention to actions and behaviors, such as appetite, changes in the level of activity, increased thirst or urination, digestive upset, or increased vocalization.
That said, if your cat’s nose is suddenly drier and warmer than normal and stays that way, combined with other signs, it could indicate a fever or dehydration. Cats are notorious for having drinking problems, so it’s important to pay attention to signs of dehydration.
Conversely, an overly wet nose can also spell trouble. If your cat’s nose is wetter than normal, it could be because of discharge that indicates a respiratory infection, inflammation, irritation, presence of a polyp or foreign body, allergies, or other health conditions. This may be accompanied by wheezing, sneezing, coughing, retching, ocular discharge, or nasal congestion. If you notice any of these signs, call your veterinarian for an exam.
Sunburns on Cats’ Noses
Cats like to sunbathe, and the hairless nose can be at risk of sunburn. This is more common in light-skinned cats with pink noses. If your cat has dryness, swelling, redness, scabs, and flaky skin on their nose, they could have a sunburn.
Here are some ways you can prevent sunburn on your cat’s nose:
Cats’ noses are usually wet and cool, allowing them to pick up scents in their environment. While a dry, warm nose doesn’t always mean something’s wrong, it’s good to pay attention to what’s normal for your cat and address any problems that arise.
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Featured Image Credit: miezekieze, Pixabay