Runny Nose in Cats

Last Updated on March 22, 2020

A common question most cat owners eventually ask is “What causes a cat to have a runny nose?”. Unlike dogs, it is far less common to see a cat with a very wet or runny nose, so when it does happen, most people aren’t sure what to do about it. The discharge can be clear, gray, green, or even bloody. You will need to play detective to know if it is a health concern or just the basic sniffles. Below are the common causes of a runny nose.

Runny Nose Causes

Below are the most common reasons for a cat to have a runny nose:

  • Bacterial Infections
  • Upper Respiratory Infection
  • Fungal Infection
  • Nasal Polyps (benign growth)
  • Nasal Tumors (benign or cancerous)
  • Object Stuck In Nasal Cavity (dust, sand, hair, dirt, litter, food, seeds, etc.)
  • Head Trauma
  • Allergies
  • Pneumonia
  • Cleft Palate (deformity in the roof of the mouth)
  • Tooth Root Abscesses
  • Cheyletiellosis (skin mites)

The most common causes of a runny nose

The most common causes of a runny nose in cats is a mild cold, allergies, or something being stuck in the nose. If other symptoms are present, you will want to take them into their vet to get checked out. The vet will be able to determine the exact cause and help you with treatment.


If you suspect the nasal discharge to be caused by a cold, make sure they stay hydrated, and your cat should feel better in a few days. To help, get some unflavored Pedialyte and mix a few spoons into their water. You can also add it to wet food. Only give them this for a maximum of 4 days.


For allergies, if they are not severe, you can just make sure your cat is comfy till he/she feels better. You will have to figure out the allergy to help ease the symptoms. Some cats are allergic to certain cleaners, plastics, perfumes, and foods. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, keep them in for a good week and see if the symptoms get better or worse. If they get better, it is likely due to a grass, plant, chemical, or pollen allergy. If they become worse, you will have to keep track of everything you use inside the home to determine the cause.


If your cat’s nose is only running on one side, this may mean something is stuck inside his/her nose. If the nostril continues to run for more than a few days, take them to see their vet. A growth can also cause a runny nose on a single side.

If your cat has a runny nose accompanied by one, a few, or all of these symptoms, take them in to see a vet right away.

  • Lethargic (very sleepy/weak)
  • Dizziness
  • Minimal or Absent Appetite
  • Constipation/Diarrhoea
  • Dehydration
  • Watering Eyes
  • Blood (in nose, mouth, ears, eyes, urine, or feces)
  • Wheezing or Laboured Breathing
  • Fever/Chills
  • Excessive Sneezing

If you have any questions about your cat and their runny nose, please leave a comment below.

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