Like us humans, cats can also suffer from a runny nose. And if your cat has a runny nose, you may be wondering if it’s minor or if you need to have them checked with their veterinarian. While some cases of a runny nose in a cat go away on its own, other cases warrant a trip to the vet, especially when there are accompanying symptoms.

Some causes of runny nose in cats include an upper respiratory infection, an allergy, or a more complicated disease. Meanwhile, the treatment for your cat with a runny nose would depend on what is causing it.

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  1. Causes of Runny Nose in Cats
  2. Why Is My Cat Sneezing and Has a Runny Nose
  3. Treatment for Runny Nose in Cats
  4. Home Remedies for a Cat Runny Nose
  5. How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment
  6. FAQs
  7. Conclusion

Causes of Runny Nose in Cats

“Why does my cat have a runny nose?”, you might ask. There are several possible reasons why a cat has a runny nose. Below are some of the causes of runny nose in cats.

  • Allergies;
  • Upper respiratory infection (according to NCBI research);
  • Nasal cavity trauma;
  • Chronic respiratory disease (eg. Feline calicivirus);
  • Foreign body in the nasal cavity;
  • Tumor or polyp in the nasal cavity;
  • Oral or dental problems;
  • Eye or ear issues;
  • Head trauma;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Toxin exposure.

To closely monitor your cat for the above symptoms, a good quality pet camera such as the Pet Camera can go a long way. The sooner the symptoms are detected and addressed, the more likely it will lead to a good prognosis.

Why Is My Cat Sneezing and Has a Runny Nose

If your cat has a runny nose and is sneezing, below are the common possible causes.

  • Upper respiratory infection (usually due to calicivirus or herpesvirus);
  • A blockage in the nasal canal (eg. foreign body, polyps, tumor);
  • Inhaling allergens or irritants (eg. dust, cleaning agents, smoke);
  • Dental disease.

Treatment for Runny Nose in Cats

When it comes to how to treat a cat with a runny nose, it would depend on the cause. For instance, if your cat’s runny nose is due to a fungal or bacterial infection, medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, and antifungals may be prescribed. When your cat’s runny nose is due to an upper respiratory infection, your cat may benefit from supportive treatment (with antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection develops).

Making sure that your cat is drinking lots of fluids during recovery is important, and so is cleaning your cat’s eyes and nose to prevent buildup of discharge. If it’s due to an allergy, testing may be recommended to determine what they’re allergic to and thus prevent exposure to the allergen.

Note that there are cases of a runny nose in cats that need immediate attention. For instance, if there is an obstruction such as a foreign object or polyps in their nasal cavity, your cat may need to undergo an emergency surgery to eliminate the foreign object or polyps. On the other hand, if your cat with a runny nose shows signs of breathing difficulties, they may need supplemental oxygen. For some cats who are very sick, hospitalization along with supportive care may be needed.

If you are concerned about your cat who has a runny nose, consulting with your veterinarian is best.

Home Remedies for a Cat Runny Nose

If your cat has an upper respiratory infection causing a runny nose, below are some home remedies:

Groom them

Sick cats may stop grooming themselves, so you may help them with grooming by brushing their fur with a brush or comb at least once in a day.

Clean their eyes and nose

You may use a cotton ball soaked in warm water to gently wipe any nasal or eye discharge from your cat.

Nebulize with steam

Nebulization with steam helps reduce congestion as it loosens secretions. This is normally done at least once a day while a cat has an upper respiratory infection.

Nutritional support

It’s common for cats with colds or an upper respiratory infection to not have much appetite. However, it is very important for a sick cat to continue eating and drinking. It would help to find ways for them to eat such as offering stronger-smelling food such as fish, warming your cat’s food, and in some cases, feeding your cat with a syringe.

Use a humidifier

It may help to run a humidifier in the room where your cat stays. Humidifiers emit water vapor in the atmosphere, which may provide relief from congestion.

Keep their environment stress-free

Provide your cat with a safe, quiet, and comfy space to prevent them from getting stressed. Stress may affect your cat’s immune system so it may slow down their recovery.

How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment

In emergency cases of runny nose in cats such as when difficulty in breathing occurs, it is crucial to bring your cat to the vet immediately. Treatment for emergency cases is usually expensive. But there are ways to prepare for such situations without the need to shell out so much cash.

For example, a subscription to Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund provides you with a financial safety net along with a 24/7 online vet service, so you can focus on your pet’s treatment. If you’re looking for a good pet insurance alternative, lucky you! We are offering our blog readers an exclusive 27% discount when you follow this link.


How to treat a kitten with runny nose and eyes?

Treatment would depend on the cause of your kitten’s runny nose and watery eyes. For example, if it’s bacterial, your veterinarian will likely prescribe antibiotics.

My cat has a runny nose when purring. What does it imply?

If their runny nose just happens when they’re purring and they look healthy, it may just mean that their sweat glands have been activated. This is just normal and not a cause for worry.


While there are cases of runny nose in cats that resolve on their own, other cases require treatment. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause and severity of your cat’s runny nose. The treatment would depend on the underlying cause. Remember that early detection is important to be able to address any issue early on, and help keep your kitty happy and healthy.

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