Runny Nose in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Runny Nose in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Runny Nose in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Runny Nose?

If your cat has a runny nose, you may be wondering if you should bring him into a vet. Some causes of runny noses are minor and do not require treatment, however, others are serious and require immediate medical attention. It’s always recommended to visit a vet if your cat is experiencing a runny nose. 

Just like humans, cats can suffer from a runny nose, or nasal discharge. A runny nose is common in cats and fairly easy to spot. It may occur in one or both of your cat’s nostrils, and the discharge may be clear or have color, depending on the underlying cause. 

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Runny Nose Average Cost

From 461 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Runny Nose in Cats

A runny nose is characterized by nasal discharge. Cat owners may notice a watery or thick discharge that is clear and colorless. However, nasal discharge may also have streaks of blood or pus, giving it a slightly red, yellow, or green color. Symptoms that may accompany a runny nose include:

  • Sneezing
  • Eye discharge
  • Stuffy nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
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Causes of Runny Nose in Cats

There are a number of different health conditions that could cause a runny nose in your cat. Some of them are minor issues, while others will need emergency medical attention from a veterinarian. Causes of a runny nose include:

  • Allergies
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Bacterial or fungal infection in the nasal cavity
  • Tumors in the nasal cavity
  • Foreign objects in the nasal cavity
  • Head trauma
  • Pneumonia
  • Nasal polyps
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Diagnosis of Runny Nose in Cats

A vet will be able to determine your cat has a runny nose by simply observing him. However, you should still inform your vet of any other symptoms you have noticed, aside from the runny nose, so he can diagnose the underlying condition. If the discharge is clear, your vet may identify the cause as allergies without doing any further testing. However, if there is blood or pus in the discharge, further testing may be required.

A complete blood count and biochemistry profile may be performed in order to see if there are any abnormalities. For example, an elevated white blood cell count may signal that an infection is causing the nasal discharge. The vet may also swab the inside of the nasal cavity to test the discharge for bacteria and fungus. If the vet believes there is another cause for the discharge, he may perform either a CT scan or an endoscopy to look for tumors, foreign objects, or polyps.

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Treatment of Runny Nose in Cats

Treatment will vary depending on what is causing the runny nose. If a foreign object is lodged into your cat’s nasal cavity or polyps are present, the vet may need to perform emergency surgery to safely remove the object or polyps. 

A vet will prescribe medication to treat runny noses caused by fungal or bacterial infections. It’s the cat owner’s responsibility to orally administer this medication at home and bring the cat in for a follow-up visit to ensure the infection has healed. Medication can include antifungals, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories if the nasal lining is irritated.

Upper respiratory infections are often caused by viruses, and there are no medications to specifically treat these. However, cats are often prescribed antibiotics for these infections to treat secondary bacterial infections.  Cat owners may be told to make sure the cat is drinking plenty of fluids while he recovers. Keeping the eyes and nose free of discharge while the cat recovers from cat flu is also important.

One of the common causes of a runny nose in cats is exposure to allergens. If the vet thinks this is what is causing your cat’s runny nose, testing may be suggested. This will help you figure out what your cat is allergic to so you can reduce or eliminate the cat’s exposure to the allergen.

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Worried about the cost of Runny Nose treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Runny Nose in Cats

The time your cat takes to recover from a runny nose will depend on what is causing it. If a fungal or bacterial infection is the cause, your cat should recover after a being treated with antibiotics or antifungal medication. 

Cats usually fully recover from upper respiratory infections, however, kittens and older cats with other health conditions may experience complications in their recovery. Even after they heal, cats remain carriers, meaning they may suffer from the condition again at some point in their lives. 

Recovery from allergy-related runny noses is usually fairly quick if you prevent the cat’s exposure to the allergen. However, some allergies are seasonal and reactions are caused by exposure to pollen or other environmental elements. If this is the case, although you cannot prevent exposure, you can talk to your vet about treating the reactions with antihistamines as needed.

If your cat required surgery to remove a foreign object or polyps, he may need up to a week to physically recover. Your vet will most likely need to reexamine him after the surgery to ensure everything is healing properly.

The health problems that cause a runny nose can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your cat is at risk of a runny nose, start searching for pet insurance today. Wag!’s pet insurance comparison tool lets you compare plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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Runny Nose Average Cost

From 461 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$500

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Runny Nose Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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cat

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10 Years

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21 found helpful

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21 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Running Nose Sneezing

I dont know how to help him i dont have the money for a vet right now

Jan. 11, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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21 Recommendations

These symptoms can have many causes including a viral infection, bacterial infection, foreign body in the nose, dental disease etc. so a vet check is best. The consult itself may not be as expensive as you fear and should point us in the right direction. Do make the vet know about your financial concerns. Clean any discharge away with cotton wool and warm water. Offer warm and tasty food as a blocked nose can mean a poor appetite. Consider 'steaming' your cat by allowing them in the room when someone has a hot shower. Keep the air well ventilated and free of e.g. smoke and dust.

Jan. 11, 2021

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Sabien

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Siamese

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5 Months

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6 found helpful

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6 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Clear Discharge
Runny Nose

I have noticed intermittent dried up clear discharge from the nose of my 5 month old Siamese kitten. To my knowledge, he was born into a home environment (no breeder or shelter). He will sometimes sneeze, but we attributed that to playing underneath the sofa or on carpets. I’ve also noticed he is scratching inside the ear, not frequently, but it looks like he’s trying to get in deep. Appetite is fine, he is so very playful, curious and energetic. My other cat (5 years old) shows no similar symptoms and is in great health. I worry because last year we adopted a shelter kitten which we had to put down due to contracting FIP (we were told this is common in shelter cats) - he had extreme runny nose and many severe issues we later found out. I truly hope my Siamese does not have anything similar.

Sept. 11, 2018

Sabien's Owner

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Runny Nose Average Cost

From 461 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$500

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