Sometimes in practice, I would receive a call from a concerned client because their cat suddenly had a bump or scab on their nose. I would explain to the owner that because cat noses are more exposed than other parts of the body, they’re more sensitive and lesions are more visible. Fortunately, nasal bridge sores, scabs and bumps are often treatable.
This article will help you recognize different types of bumps, lumps and scabs on cat noses, so you know what to do about them. We’ll share signs that it’s time to call the vet and explain what will happen when you take your kitty in for an exam.
Five bumps or scabs often found on cats’ noses [with pictures]
Lumps and scabs on cat noses have various underlying causes, including trauma, allergies, and infections.
1. Trauma / injury
Cats are curious and mischievous, so their noses are prone to scratches and bumps. When your kitty has local trauma, the tissue becomes inflamed and swollen. These lesions will normally clear up on their own.
If the injury is severe or is irritating your cat contact your vet. He may prescribe an anti-inflammatory or give you an E-collar to prevent your kitty from scratching the area. The prognosis for recovery is good.
2. Allergic reaction (mosquito bite, etc)
When a cat suffers a mosquito or spider bite, or if they contact an environmental allergen, they may have an allergic response.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction on a cat’s nose include:
- Welt or hives
- Watery eyes
If the swelling is severe, or your cat has trouble breathing, take him to the vet immediately. He could be experiencing an anaphylactic reaction. Otherwise, take pictures of the reaction on your cat’s nose and talk to your vet about treatment. Your vet may recommend an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine to reduce the swelling. When it comes to allergic reactions, prevention is key.
Cats can have swelling on the nose due to an infection of the mouth, nasal passages, or skin.
- Oral and tooth root infections of the upper jaw may cause facial abscesses on the nose bridge.
- Sinus infections may cause inflammation and swelling of the nose bridge
- Skin infections such as aspergillosis and ringworm can cause scabbing on your cat’s nose
Depending on the nature of the infection, your kitty may also have the following symptoms:
- nasal discharge,
- watery eyes,
- fever, and
- a loss of appetite.
When infection is the cause of nose bumps or scabs, you need to take your cat to the veterinarian. He can examine your kitty and run cultures to determine the best treatment regimen. Depending on his findings, the doctor will prescribe an appropriate antibiotic. If the infection is severe, your cat may need IV fluids and other supportive care. The prognosis for recovery depends on the nature and severity of the infection.
Felines with light-colored fur and pink skin are prone to sun sensitivity. With too much sun exposure, they can get sunburned and have
- Bumps on the nose
- Scaly skin
- Thickened, leathery skin
- Hair loss around the edges
When you take your cat to the vet for sunburn, he’ll assess the severity of the burns, apply burn cream, and prescribe oral or topical steroids to treat any inflammation. If there are signs of infection, he may also give your kitty some antibiotics. The prognosis for full recovery is usually good.
If you have a cat that’s sun-sensitive, limit exposure to direct sunlight by pulling shades and keeping your kitty indoors between 10 am and 4 pm. Check with your vet about cat-safe sunblock that you can apply to the nose bridge, ears, and other areas with less hair cover.
Older cats in particular may develop cancerous tumors on the nose. Some of the most common types are:
- squamous cell carcinoma (as pictured below)
- nasal lymphoma (as pictured below)
- mast cell tumors (as pictured below)
Unfortunately, nose cancers are difficult to treat in cats. If possible, the lesion should be removed surgically. Otherwise, the tumor should be biopsied. Your vet will submit the tissue for cytology to determine the type of cancer. Treatment options may include:
- Nasal flushes
Early detection improves the prognosis for skin cancers, but it is often guarded.
7. Black Spots (Lentigo)
One issue that we also often see in cats is black spots on a cat’s nose, otherwise known as lentigo. Read our article “Black Spots on Cat’s Nose” to view more pictures.
What should you do if you see a new lump or bump on your cat’s nose?
If you notice a new lump or bump on your cat’s nose, take a picture of the growth. Contact your vet to let him know what you found and send him a copy of the image. If your kitty is acting normally, he may recommend that you observe her at home for a few days to see if the bump resolves on its own.
If the bump persists beyond a few days or you notice other signs listed below, take your kitty in for an exam.
- The lump gets bigger
- Nasal discharge
- Other facial changes
- The area seems painful to your cat
- Behavioral changes such as lethargy or loss of appetite
How can I tell the difference between a cancerous lump/tumor and a benign lump?
Usually, cancerous lumps tend to be firmer and grow faster than benign lumps. They’re also generally not freely movable under the skin. However, the only way to know for sure is to take your kitty to the vet. The doctor can examine the tumor and take an aspiration or incision biopsy to examine the tissues under a microscope.
When should I call my veterinarian?
Bumps on cats’ noses can be fairly benign and go away without any assistance, but not always. If you notice a new lump or bump on your kitty’s nose, you should call your veterinarian and let him know. If possible, snap a picture of the lesion and text or email it to the doctor’s office. If you notice other signs/symptoms, take your cat to the clinic for an exam as soon as possible
- The lump keeps growing
- The lump doesn’t go away in a few days
- difficulty breathing
- Nasal discharge
- Loss of appetite
- Scratching or rubbing the affected area
- Crying or other signs of pain/discomfort
- depression or lethargy
What will happen at the vet and how much will it cost?
Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and run diagnostic tests to help determine the reason your kitty has a lump. Depending on the initial findings, tests may include:
- Blood count and blood cultures
- Aspiration or excision biopsy of the lump if cancer is suspected
- X-rays or advanced imaging of the nasal cavities when there’s nasal cavity involvement
- Nasal flush and culture or cytologic examination of the fluid
Most of these procedures require sedation or anesthesia.
The cost for an initial exam and blood will probably run around $100-150. If your kitty requires advanced imaging, diagnostic procedures can reach $500-1,000 or more. The cost of treatment varies widely depending on the diagnosis.
Is there anything that can be done to prevent new bumps or scabs on your cat’s nose?
For many causes of lumps or scabs, prevention is difficult. You may be able to keep your cat indoors and use feline-safe insect repellants. However, early detection of new lumps, bumps, or scabs and appropriate treatment is possible. Check your kitty daily, and if you notice anything unusual, take a picture for your vet. Follow his medical advice.
Can bumps or scabs be contagious to humans or other cats?
Alllghouth it’s rare, some types of bumps or scabs can be contagious to other cats and/or humans. If the new growth is caused by an infection such as ringworm, talk to your veterinarian about proper measures to protect feline and human members of your household.