red tabby cat boogers or lentigo

Why Does My Cat Have Black Boogers?

Has your cat got black boogers or a black crusty nose? Are you concerned about what they are, where they come from, and what you should do with them – if anything at all? Why does my cat have black boogers is a common question from cat guardians and most of the time there is nothing to worry about – it is usually perfectly normal!

Read on to learn why your cat has nose boogers and what you should do about it!

Why Does My Cat Have Black Boogers?

Black nose boogers or a crusty black nose is a surprisingly common issue with cats. Sometimes it can seem to be a permanent feature and other times it is just a passing phase. So, why does my cat have a crusty black nose with boogers? Let’s check out some of the common causes.

red and white cat with black boogers
What’s with your nose dude?

Nasal And Respiratory Issues

Your cat may have feline nasal discharge as a result of a respiratory infection. They might have a common virus – similar to when we catch a common cold. This could result in the immune system reacting and producing a nasal discharge to rid the cat of viral particles. 

Alternatively, your cat may have a fungal infection or a bacterial infection all causing a similar immune reaction.

Or, they may have a slight allergy to an environmental allergen – like suffering hayfever in response to pollen exposure. The immune response to the allergen is causing them to produce a little more nasal mucus with the aid of lining the nasal passages for protection from the allergen.

Nasal and respiratory issues are a common cause of black crusty nose in cats – but that is not to say these issues are always serious. 

striped red tabby with lentigo
Lentigo on nose, lips and eyelids.


Maybe those black boogers that seem to be on your cat’s nose all the time are actually a case of lentigo?

What is lentigo? Simply put it is cat freckles! But these freckles tend to develop and spread over time rather than appear overnight. They start as small dots and then you suddenly think your cat has boogers when it did not have them last week or last month, therefore there must be a problem! But there isn’t a problem. They are completely harmless.

Often these freckles will form around the lips and may spread to the nose and edges of the eyelids. They tend to be brown or black and are often really noticeable in red cats. They are thought to be hereditary and although sun exposure triggers freckling in people, no one really knows what triggers lentigo in cats.

Scratches To The Nose 

Those black boogers or crusty bits may actually be scabs. Your cat might have scratched their nose and the crust is just a side effect of the usual healing process.

It is not unusual for cats with access to the outdoors to scratch their faces moving through heavy undergrowth. Their eyes are not great when focusing on near objects and they rely heavily on their whiskers to sense objects close to their face. A branch or bit of vegetation can easily spring across them and potentially cause a graze.

Alternatively, outdoor cats can get into standoffs and confrontations with one another that get resolved with a few slaps! A slap with a paw might result in a minor face scratch depending on the scale of the confrontation!

An indoor cat can easily scratch a nose whilst grooming – so even indoor cats might have scratched noses rather than boogers caused by a nasal infection or allergy.

cat with crusty black nostrils and nose
crusty nose…

Feline Herpes

Your cat may have black boogers as a result of infection with feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) better known as feline herpes. This virus is specific to cats – so other dogs and people cannot contract herpes from the infected cat. 

The cat, if not vaccinated against the condition initially, catches the virus from an infected cat or from exposure to the virus in the environment. This is usually from sharing quarters with an infected cat or from a guardian who has handled an infected cat and has not washed their hands before touching the uninfected cat.

There is no cure for the condition. The aim is to control outbreaks of the condition which happen from time to time. Nasal discharge is one of the symptoms of an outbreak of the condition and it is this discharge that creates the black crusty boogers.

cat sneezing with feline nasal infection
Sneezing cat

Is It Normal For Cats To Have Boogers?

It can be perfectly normal for a cat to occasionally have nose boogers or get a little crusty. 

The creation of the mucous necessary for the boogers is a perfectly normal way for the cat’s respiratory system to operate to remove general dirt and foreign objects from the system. 

Just like with people, an occasional runny nose is not something to be hugely concerned with and the fact this discharge picks up some environmental dust and turns black or crusty can be perfectly normal.

What you need to look out for is the unusual – so a sudden onset of nasal discharge in much greater volume than could be considered normal, sneezing, facial swelling, eye discharge, change in color of the nasal discharge to red or brown or yellow, or difficulty breathing through the nose would all by symptoms that would warrant a visit to the vet for a check-up to rule out cancer, bacterial infections or other serious issues.

Should I Pick My Cats Boogers?

You should not put anything up your cat’s nasal passages! But, you can clean off surface boogers with a soft damp cloth to help your cat breathe a little better and to keep buildup from occurring. Don’t go too hard at it – let the boogers gently rub away or leave them till they are ready to drop.

Many cats don’t like having their faces messed with so you need to be quick and gentle to avoid training your cat to dislike the experience.