Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Cats

Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Cats

Inflammation of a cat’s nose is referred to as rhinitis; sinusitis, meanwhile, refers to the inflammation in the nasal passages. Both medical conditions can cause mucus discharge to develop. With prolonged inflammation, bacterial infections are common.

Viral rhinitis is especially prevalent in kittens. And older animals will often experience the growth and presence of abnormal tissue (neoplasia), or dental disease, resulting in inflammation.

Rhinitis and sinusitis may occur in both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how these disorders affects dogs, please visit this page in the petMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

There are a variety of symptoms which can be seen in cats affected by rhinitis and sinusitis, including:

  • Sneezing
  • Facial deformity
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Nasal discharge (i.e., mucus)
  • Decreased air flow (stuffy nose) in one or both nasal passages
  • Reverse sneezing (when the animal takes in a gasp of air to pull discharge in the back of their nasal passages down into their throats)


Some of the more common factors which can lead to rhinitis and sinusitis include:

  • Parasites
  • Fungal disease
  • Tooth root abscess
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Neoplasia (abnormal tissue growth)
  • Congenital abnormalities (e.g., cleft palate)
  • Presence of a foreign object within the nose
  • Nasal polyps (nonmalignant tissue growth or tumor in nose)


Upon initial examination, it is likely that the veterinarian will look for signs of tooth root abscess and ulcers. He or she will examine the cat’s oral tissue and gums for any abnormalities, and will want to rule out alternate causes of the inflammation such as hypertension or lower airway disease. 

A dental exam, blood work, imaging and a physical examination will be performed to determine what the underlying cause of the inflammation is, and to create a proper course of treatment.

Nasal discharge that occurs in both nasal passages is often associated with viral or bacterial inflammation. When the discharge is only present in one nasal passage, it can suggest a fungal infection, neoplasia (the presence of abnormal cells), a tooth root abscess, or that there is a foreign object present in the nose.


A medical condition; occurs when the sinus becomes inflamed


A type of slime that is made up of certain salts, cells, or leukocytes


Anything that looks different from what is considered to be normal and healthy for that species


A localized infection, usually a lesion filled with pus. Can be large or small in size.


High blood pressure

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