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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. 

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 infection, also known as cat flu
  • 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.

Cat flu is usually a virus, so there is no medication to treat it. However, 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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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 cat flu, however, kittens and older cats with other health conditions may experience complications in their recovery. Even after they heal from cat flu, 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.

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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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Sabien

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Siamese

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Runny Nose
Clear Discharge

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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Jagger

dog-breed-icon

Long haired domestic

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing, Snotty Nose

I adopted Jagger in April this year, he was a stray and was told he had severe cat flu. Since then he has always had a snotty nose that comes and goes (mainly stays) with sneezing involved. After multiple vet trips we always get the same antibiotics that do nothing and symptoms still stay (tried different vets, requested different medications and tried them). Is this something to be concerned about as far as we can tell and vets can tell it does not effect him in any way and is overall a healthy cat but we are just concerned and over snoot everywhere (we can deal with that though)

Sept. 11, 2018

Jagger's Owner

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Zena

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

22 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Running Nose
Watering Eye

My cat has a runny nose on one side mucus is kind of greenish over night but clear during the day. The same side her eye has been very running. Still running around playing, no lost in appetite.

Sept. 2, 2018

Zena's Owner

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Tchalla

dog-breed-icon

mixed

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Coughing
Goopy Eyes

My cat has a lot of mucus draining from his nose, he’s sneezing a lot and there are “snot bubbles” and has goop in his eyes, I do live in Arizona and it is monsoon season so it might be from all the dust, but I want to make sure he’s going to be okay. -thank you

Aug. 19, 2018

Tchalla's Owner


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0 Recommendations

It is difficult to determine whether the mucus is from allergies, irritants, infections or another cause; you should ideally visit your Veterinarian for an examination to determine the cause of the mucus and to receive treatment if necessary. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 20, 2018

My cat just gave birth recently and she's having a leaking nose and doesn't seem to care for the kittens now

Sept. 10, 2018

Mono K.

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Ming

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Unknown

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic. Runny Eye

My cat has a runny nose,one leaky eye, sneezes often, he's also lost his appetite and won't move of the sofa, he's been like this for 2 days now, im getting worried,

Aug. 13, 2018

Ming's Owner

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0 Recommendations

It sounds like Ming may have an upper respiratory tract infection, however without examining her I cannot say for certain; allergies, foreign objects, tumours among other issues may also cause similar symptoms. This would be something to check with your Veterinarian and they may prescribe something to help with secondary infection or supportive care. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 14, 2018

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Owen

dog-breed-icon

American Shorthair

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Clear Mucus From Nose
Strange Cough

I have a six year old male tabby. He's had a runny nose for a few months now, it's clear and watery. He's not sneezing or coughing, he's eating fine. He weighs 15 lbs. He has done this thing where he's coughing, and it sounds like a hairball but not quite, but he doesn't do this very often. I took him to the vet a couple months ago and they gave him some antibiotics. The coughing and sneezing stopped but the runny nose remains. I've looked up his nose with a flashlight but it's hard to see, i didn't see anything.

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milo

dog-breed-icon

tiger printed

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Fever
Breathing Difficulty
Loss Of Appetite
Running Nose

my cat was taken to the vet for steroid shot over month ago to asist his asthma and was given antibotic which he has finish and there was no improvement but it only has gotten worse he has develop stuff nose the discharge is green or yellow, fever, loss of appetite, can't really breathe well, and loss of weight. Also, it was passed down to my other which he's starting to develop same symptoms. what should I do?

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Luna

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Siamese

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Watery Eyes
Running Nose

i adopted a 7 month old siamese kitten and during her first weeks in my dorm, she had been sneezing with thick snot and watery eyes. it's her 3rd week here and the snot has turned clear and watery. she breathes fairly heavy now but is still active and has the appetite.

dog-name-icon

Bangs

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Drooling
Runny Nose
Bloody Nose

There's this stray cat that my mom and me are feeding everyday. He suddenly didn't return home for two days and just returned home earlier tonight. He's lethargic, has mucous discharge from his nose which was clear a while ago but last time I checked, which was like two minutes ago it's starting to get laced with blood.and there's drooling I think. Could it be Coumadin poisoning? I'm really worried.

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Duffy

dog-breed-icon

Siamese/ Himalayan mix

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Nasal Discharge
Watery Eyes

My 9 year old cat has been on 2 different antibiotics. Clavamox for 10 days and Azithromycin for 7 days but is still experiencing sneezing, right side nasal discharge and watery eyes. It improved slightly with the antibiotics but doesn't go away. The nasal discharge is right side only and a whitish yellow in color. I am lost as to what to do next. Any advice?

Runny Nose Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$500

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