How to Clean a Stuffy Cat Nose

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"I can't breathe through my nose. Help me."
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Cats can suffer from seasonal allergies, just as humans, with a stuffy nose due to congestion. Cleaning the exterior of a cat's nose as well as opening his breathing passages will comfort him. If your cat displays other signs of sickness, fever or coughing and sneezing, a trip to the veterinary clinic is in order for a diagnosis and treatment for his stuffy nose.


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Stuffy Nose Reasons

Environmental allergens can cause a stuffy cat nose. Cats with allergies may sneeze, may have itchy and runny eyes, and may snore due to a sore throat. Cats can be allergic to tree, weed and grass pollens or to indoor allergens such as dust mites, mold and mildew. If your cat has not been diagnosed with allergies, he will need to see your veterinarian, who will work to determine what the allergen is and who may prescribe a cortisone or steroid treatment followed by a regimen of antihistamines.


An upper respiratory infection is the most common virus in cats. Symptoms include stuffy or runny nose with discharge, resulting in open-mouth breathing, coughing and sneezing. The fever associated with an upper respiratory infection can cause an elevated heart rate and a decrease in appetite. If your cat has more than one of these symptoms, he needs to see a vet. An upper respiratory infection can turn into pneumonia and make your kitty severely ill. Treatment will likely include antibiotics and isolation.


Cleaning Cat Noses

If your cat has a stuffy nose with visible dried discharge, dip a cotton ball in a bowl of warm water and gently wipe his nose. If the cotton ball becomes soiled, use another and wipe with gentle strokes around his nose. Unscented baby wipes work well for removing nasal discharge crusts from feline noses. You will most likely need to hold him while you clean his nose, then lavish him with kitty treats for cooperating.


Open Breathing Passages

A cat who has a stuffy nose and is breathing through his mouth finds it difficult to breathe and eat at the same time. Place your kitty's food and water dishes in a closed bathroom and turn on the shower with hot water to create steam. Don't turn on the ceiling vent or open a window. The steam will open his nasal passages so he can eat. Try warming his food first, too, so he can smell it and regain his appetite.


Veterinary Visit

If your cat displays signs of sickness besides a stuffy nose for more than a day or so, and he doesn't have a known allergy, take him to your veterinarian. He may need antibiotics for an infection and could need fluids if he is dehydrated from lack of water. A cat with fever tends to be lethargic. He may lack appetite and may not drink as much water as normal -- especially if he has trouble breathing through his nose.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.