What to do if your cat has a runny nose

Why do cats have runny noses? There are many potential causes of a cat’s runny nose. Treatment for a cat’s runny nose depends on the cause.

cat runny nose

A runny or runny nose is not a disease itself, but a symptom of a disease or other health problem. A runny nose is caused by something that irritates or inflames nasal tissue. Nasal discharge may come from one or both nostrils. It can also switch between nostrils.

Signs associated with a cat’s runny nose

If your cat has a runny nose, you may or may not notice other signs at the same time. If the nose is flowing and there are no other abnormalities, it doesn’t mean there is no bigger problem. However, if you see other signs of illness along with a runny nose, it may be a more pressing concern. Watch for signs of health problems and contact your veterinarian for advice.

  • discharge from the nose
  • Staining or discoloration of the fur around the mouth and nose
  • stuffy nose
  • sneeze
  • cough
  • nasal swelling
  • eye discharge or other eye problems
  • scratch your face
  • lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • lose weight

Causes of a runny nose in cats

There are many possible causes of a cat’s runny nose. Most commonly, a cat’s snot is a sign of upper respiratory problems.

  • Upper respiratory tract infection (viral, bacterial, fungal)
  • chronic respiratory disease
  • nasal trauma
  • Polyps, tumors, or foreign bodies in the nasal tube (often accompanied by sneezing)
  • Eye problems (eye discharge may cause excessive nasal discharge)
  • oral and dental problems
  • ear problems
  • allergy
  • toxin exposure

What to do if your cat has a runny nose

If you notice your cat has a runny nose and there are no other signs of illness, it is wise to wait a day or two to see if the runny nose goes away. If other signs appear, or if the runny nose persists for several days, then your cat will need veterinary attention.

Call your veterinarian to ask about next steps. If your cat has cold-like signs (nasal discharge and congestion, sneezing, eye discharge), your veterinarian’s office may want to schedule an appointment at a specific time to keep other cats away. Many feline upper respiratory infections are highly contagious.

If your cat’s symptoms come on suddenly and appear severe, or if there is bleeding from the nose, it is best to contact your veterinarian’s office right away. If acute symptoms develop while your veterinarian is closed, contact an emergency veterinarian for advice. This is especially important if your cat has suffered trauma.

Treatment for runny nose in cats

The first thing your veterinarian will do is give your cat a thorough examination. Be sure to share as much information as possible about the signs you see in your home and your cat’s current and past medical history. Let your veterinarian know about your cat’s environment, diet, and any medications or supplements you’re giving.

Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests based on the findings. Basic blood and urine tests will provide information about the cat’s organ function and cell counts. X-rays (X-rays) of a cat’s chest allow the veterinarian to see the lungs.

Depending on the results of these tests, certain specialized laboratory tests and imaging may be required. For example, your veterinarian may order your cat to perform a rhinoscopy if a nasal mass or foreign body is suspected. CT or MRI may be required if the veterinarian decides to rule out serious disease.

If your cat’s runny nose is caused by an upper respiratory infection, then medication is needed to clear it up. This may include antibiotics, antifungals, or steroids, depending on the source of the infection. Your veterinarian may wish to send a sample of the discharge to a laboratory if more information is needed.

For chronic or recurring problems with nasal discharge, your veterinarian may recommend consulting a veterinary specialist.

How to Prevent a Runny Nose in Cats

The best way to prevent a runny nose in your cat is to prevent disease and injury from occurring in the first place. Outdoor cats are at higher risk for injury and contagious infections. Keeping cats indoors can greatly reduce the risk. Also, make sure your cat is vaccinated as recommended by your veterinarian.