Surprising Cause of Cat Nose Crusties

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Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from the Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. I’m here today to answer questions from the Facebook page of Pet’s Best Insurance. This one is from Nicole. She says, “I’ve had my kittens, Oliver and Sophia, brother and sister, since they were three weeks old. They are now 1.

They always had a red brown crusty substance caked on the passages of their little noses. It builds up and I always clean it. The other kittens in the litter have it as well. I’ve always been worried it was blood. Is this normal? If not, is there something I can do about it. Their parents are feral cats which worries me even more.”

Nicole’s cats probably had a viral upper respiratory infection as kittens. These are real common in cats that are grouped together, like at shelters or in feral cats that lived together and haven’t been vaccinated. The virus is typically a feline herpes virus; and herpes viruses can stay dormant in the body usually along the nerve somewhere, and they can become reactivated later in time. Sometimes secondary to some stressful situations.

We do sometimes see cats like Nicole’s, where they really don’t show any other symptoms other than they always get those little crustiness right on the edges of their nose. It often is that red brown color. It’s just some water nasal discharge that has sat there and got oxidized, and kind of turns that color.

The good news is that for most cats, it doesn’t seem to bother them. So we don’t really do anything about it. I would continue to do just the basic home care like Nicole’s doing. When needed, take a warm wet cloth to wipe that discharge away, and keep those little faces clean. Send in your questions about cat health to Pet’s Best Facebook page, and I’ll answer those in the future.

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