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Home > Cats > How to Clean a Cat’s Nose: 5 Vet Approved Steps

How to Clean a Cat’s Nose: 5 Vet Approved Steps

cat owner cleaning her pet's nose

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are notoriously clean creatures. After all, they spend anywhere between 30% and 50%1 of their day grooming themselves. But there may come a time when your kitty needs a helping hand with their grooming. If you notice that their noses are dirty or crusty after their daily cleaning sessions, you might want to offer your assistance.

Keep reading to learn how to clean a cat’s nose!


The 5 Steps to Cleaning a Cat’s Nose

1. Determine Why Their Nose Is Dirty

Is your cat’s nose dirty because they spent all afternoon sniffing around your garden? Or is their issue stemming from a runny nose? Pay close attention to the color of any nasal secretions that your cat might be dealing with. A small amount of clear discharge is normal or could be the result of allergies or a kitty flu. If the discharge is yellow, brown, or red, you’ll need to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible. Abnormal nasal secretions could signify an upper respiratory tract infection, which will need to be addressed right away.

If your kitty has been dealing with a stuffy or runny nose for more than a day or two, you should also make an appointment with your vet. It may be that your kitty has an infection going on. Treatment to support your cat in their recovery may be needed.

veterinarian cleaning the inside of kitten's nose
Photo Credit By: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

2. Get a Helping Hand

Your kitty probably won’t like the nose-cleaning process, so you’ll have to calmly hold them. If you have someone else in your house who can assist, enlist their help, and have them hold onto your cat while you tackle the next steps. You can use a kitty burrito towel wrap technique if a bit more security is needed.

3. Use a Cotton Pad

If you notice dry nasal discharge on your cat’s nose, dip a cotton pad in warm water, and gently wipe it. Once the cotton pad is soiled, switch it out for a fresh one, and repeat this step until their nose is entirely clear of dirt. Try wrapping the cotton pad around your thumb to make it easier and more convenient to clean your nose.

If the dirt or mucus is stuck, you might need to apply a warm compress to clean it off. You can do this by wetting a clean cloth with warm water and holding the corner of the cloth to your nose to try to loosen up any of the hardened material.

If your kitty has a shortened muzzle, such as if they’re a Persian or Himalayan, you may need to pay close attention to the folds in their skin. A cotton swab might be your best bet to ensure that you’re not missing any dirt or mucus.

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person cleaning cat's nose
Photo Credit By: NONGASIMO, Shutterstock

4. Turn On a Vaporizer

If your kitty is dealing with a stuffy nose, consider turning on a vaporizer. The warm and moist air that the device will create will help loosen any nasal secretions and any crusty deposits on the exterior of the nose.

You can also recreate the same vaporizing effect in your bathroom with the door closed. Turn your shower to hot and get some steam going. Don’t stay in the bathroom for too long, though, as the increased humidity isn’t great for your pet.

5. Give Treats

The nose-cleaning process could be scary for your cat. Follow up the regimen with some of your cat’s favorite treats for a job well done. While it is unlikely that your kitty will jump onto your lap for the next nose-cleaning session of their own volition, a treat immediately after you’re done cleaning their nose will help them realize that there’s at least a reward at the end.

giving russian blue cat a treat
Photo Credit By: DSchmidtArt, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

Even though cats are meticulously clean creatures, your kitty may need help from time to time to keep them looking their best. Don’t use any cleaners or soaps on your cat’s nose when you’re cleaning it; warm water will do the trick in most cases.


Featured Image Credit: NONGASIMO, Shutterstock

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