Interpreting Cat Nose Color Changes

When ill, cats display a wide range of symptoms. Cat nose color changes may vary from lighter to darker shades; this may be a normal phenomenon, but may also indicate that the cat is ill. Cats may have different skin colors including brown, pink, black, red, purple or yellow. You should be able to spot a pigment change on the cat’s skin or nose and determine if the problem is serious.

Hyperpigmentation of the Nose

When the nose is hyperpigmented, this means that it will have a color that is darker than usual. This may be a symptom of:

  • Basal cell tumors, which are swellings on the surface of the skin and may be filled with liquid; the tumors may be benign or malignant and biopsy is needed to establish this; they may be surgically removed
  • Allergies; the skin gets darker and may even thicken
  • Bacterial infections; the skin will thicken
  • Cushing’s disease, also signaled seborrhea, black heads, pot bellied appearance and increased thirst
  • Bowen’s disease, a rare type of carcinoma that manifests through intensive pigmentation and the skin will bleed easily; the skin can also be crusty
  • Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism; other symptoms include oily or dry skin, frequent secondary bacterial or fungal infections, dry and dull hair
  • Lentingo is a condition that causes brown-black pigmented circular patches on the nose or lips of the cat
  • Malassezia, which may be caused by a fungal infection
  • Melanoma, cause hyperpigmentation but there should also be nodules which can be felt when palpating the area; these may also obstruct the air passage, so immediate treatment or surgery are required

Discoloration of Skin

The skin on the nose may also get discolored and this may signal:

  • Bruises, the skin may get discolored or have a bluish hue; these may be caused by injuries
  • Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
  • Mosquito bites, especially if the cat is allergic to the bite
  • Pemphigus foliaceus, an autoimmune disease that also causes itchiness, scaly skin and fever
  • Skin cancer
  • Vitiligo, a condition also known as skin depigmentation, may be inherited or caused by an autoimmune condition

In conditions such as jaundice the nose, the eyes and other mucous membranes will become yellow. Jaundice is caused by a dysfunctional liver.

Follicular cysts may cause the nose to get a bluish hue; the cysts may be felt by palpating the area.

Some pigmentation changes may also be due to environmental factors or the change of seasons.

The pigment change in the skin color of the nose may be difficult to diagnose; however, you should notice if the color changes and get help from a vet. The vet will perform several tests that may include biopsies, skin scrapings or other blood tests. According to these tests, the vet will be able to tell you if the condition is severe and recommend you the best course of treatment.