Nose Sores on Cats

Updated November 21, 2016

Be watchful of any cat you adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation. Mild illnesses that can develop into serious conditions are not uncommon. Something as seemingly innocent as sores on the nose can be a signal of upper respiratory infection, specifically calicivirus. Small nose lesions are sometimes cancerous and in some cases they can be rodent ulcers, a sign of feline leukaemia. But by and large, feline nose sores are more commonly caused by benign, and easily treatable, conditions, such as flea allergies and abscesses, indicates Pet Education.

Calicivirus: Significance

According to the Animal Health Channel, calicivirus, along with feline rhinotracheitis virus, is responsible for up to 90 per cent of all upper respiratory infections in cats. Calicivirus is easy to treat as it is much like the flu, although unlike influenza, one of the typical signs of the illness is mouth and nose ulcers. If left untreated, it can lead to pneumonia and in some cases arthritis.

Calicivirus: Symptoms and Treatment

If your cat contracts calicivirus, you'll first start to notice fatigue and a lack of interest in food. The one sign that is nearly a definitive indicator of calicivirus is sores on the end of the nose and in the mouth. You might also see fever, laboured breathing and muscle tenderness. Calicivirus vaccination comes in the FVRCP vaccine, which doesn't guarantee protection. Treatment for infected cats involves giving plenty of fluids, soft foods and possibly exposure to a humidifier.

Nose Cancer

The second most prevalent area on the cat for cancer to arise is the skin. Cats that are white and live outdoors are susceptible to skin cancer, specifically squamous cell carcinoma, of the nose, eyelids and ears, says Pet Place. Older cats are more likely to get skin cancer than younger animals. If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors, examine his skin frequently. Look for non-healing sores, particularly on the nose.


Abscesses can be a frequent problem in felines, especially in male cats permitted to roam outdoors. Cats that are prone to fighting are especially susceptible. An abscess can result when cats scratch one another and wounds become infected. The nose can be a vulnerable spot as cats take a defensive posture and lash out, claws extended, toward the face. When bacteria build inside the wound, pus accumulates and the area becomes inflamed and painful. Draining of the abscess and antibiotics are standard treatments.

Rodent Ulcers

A rodent ulcer on a cat isn't related to rodents at all. It's the result of an overreaction of the immune system, causing inflammation and ulcerative skin on the lip or nose. Sometimes this kind of inflammation occurs because the cat's immune system is compromised from the presence of feline leukaemia, but sensitivity to the environment, food or fleas can be the cause. Diagnosis is often achieved via needle biopsy. Cortisone via pill or injection is the standard treatment.

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