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Why Is My Cat’s Nose Dripping When They Purr? 4 Reasons

Lindsey Lawson

By Lindsey Lawson

close up chocolate cat with dripping nose

One way to know your cat is really enjoying your bonding time is when they begin to purr. There’s nothing quite like that sweet, loving sound they make – it can truly melt your heart.

If you’ve ever noticed your cat’s nose dripping when they purr, you may be wondering why on Earth this is happening and if it is normal. This nose dripping can happen for a few reasons, and we’ll cover every one of them.

The 4 Possible Reasons Your Cat’s Nose Is Dripping When They Purr

1. Activated Sweat Glands

Cats have sweat glands located in certain hairless parts of their body, including the nose.  They will begin sweating when their body needs to regulate its internal temperature 1. The purring can actually cause these glands to become active and because there is no hair around to absorb it from the nose, you will notice dripping.

It’s most common to notice little wet footprints left behind from sweaty paws, but if your cat’s nose is dripping as they purr and they appear healthy, it’s most likely that those sweat glands have become activated. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about. The only reason for concern is if this nose dripping is accompanied by any signs of illness.

wet nose of a male cat
Image Credit: JM Fotografie, Shutterstock

2. Exposure to Environmental Allergens or Irritants

Signs of Environmental Allergies
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Eye discharge
  • Nasal Discharge
  • Itchiness of the skin or eyes
  • Inflammation

If your cat has been exposed to any allergens 2 or environmental irritants it could easily cause nasal discharge to start dripping. Allergens come in many forms and will be unique to your cat. What affects one cat in the home, may not affect others in the same way.

This kind of discharge will typically begin after the inhalation of those environmental allergens or any other household irritants. This could be due to dust, cleaners you’ve recently used, candles or any other scents you have emitting through the air, and much more.

If allergies or irritants are the culprits, you may observe more symptoms than just nasal discharge. If you have any questions about your cat’s health or need to know if they are suffering from allergies, contact your veterinarian to have them evaluated.

Common Environmental Allergens/Irritants
  • Dust mites
  • Grass
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Certain foods
  • Litter dust
  • Household cleaning products
  • Incense
  • Candles
  • Diffused essential oils

3. Respiratory Infection

Signs of Respiratory Infection
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Discharge from the eyes and/or nose
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Drooling
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nasal and/or oral ulcers
  • Squinting or rubbing eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Hoarseness

Cats of any age are susceptible to respiratory infections. These signs are very similar to cold symptoms in people. You may notice some nasal discharge while you are loving on your kitty if they are suffering from a respiratory illness of some sort.

Viruses are the most common cause of respiratory infections but they can be attributed to bacteria and fungi. If your cat is suffering from a respiratory illness, keep an eye out for some of the other telltale signs above.

Most Common Underlying Causes of Respiratory Illness in Cats
  • Feline herpesvirus- This virus is also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis, or FVR, and is a very common cause of upper respiratory infection in cats. Cats can’t transmit the feline herpesvirus to us, as it is only specific to wild and domesticated cats.
  • Feline calicivirus- This is a highly contagious virus that targets the upper respiratory system. It can cause mild to severe respiratory infections and oral disease in cats.
  • Chlamydia- This is a bacterial infection that results in respiratory illness. It often comes with signs such as runny eyes, sneezing, and nasal discharge.
  • Bordetella- This is a bacterial infection that is common in dogs but can also affect cats. It is most often transmitted in places like shelters, or multiple pet households that have more living conditions with other animals, which leads to easy exposure.
  • Fungus- Fungal infections are common and can result from being exposed through many avenues like inhalation, contact with the skin, and ingestion.
A older brown cat with runny nose
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

4. Eye Problems

Signs of Respiratory Infection
  • Eye discharge
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Redness in or around the eyes
  • Squinting or frequent blinking
  • Pawing at the eyes
  • Swelling
  • Visible foreign bod

If your cat’s nose is dripping, it could be concerning an underlying issue with the eyes. Since the eye and the nose are connected, one may be affected when there is an issue with the other.

There are many different reasons why your cat may have an issue with their eyes, including conjunctivitis, allergies, bacterial infections, viral infections, or even a foreign object being lodged in the eye.

If your cat is having any kind of trouble with their eyes, you should get in touch with your veterinarian so they can get a health exam to rule out any underlying causes and get the proper treatment going.

Infected eye of cat
Image Credit: PixieMe, Shutterstock


There are a few reasons why your cat’s nose is dripping when they begin to purr. The most likely reason is that their sweat glands have become activated as they purr, and they’ve begun sweating. You can simply wipe their nose off with a soft cloth and continue your cuddles.

If their nose dripping is due to nasal discharge of some sort, then it may be related to an underlying illness, allergy, or irritant. If your cat is exhibiting any other unusual signs, it’s a good idea to call your vet to rule out any potential medical problems.

Featured Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

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