We have four cats. One developed a little weeping sore in between her nostrils. She was licking at this sore area, which seemed to prolong it. It has healed up almost entirely now and only a faint scab remains (this was over about a week and a half). But now 2 of the other cats in the house have the same affliction. Might this be a cat flu symptom? If not, what is it or what could it be? Do we take them to the vet?
I have attached a close up photo of Joe, who is one of the two cats to develop the 'condition' after our first cat had it. As you can see, the nose looks rather sore and weepy. There is no blood ,so it doesn't look like a scratch (and the fact that they all got it suggests it is being passed around in some way).
Thank you for writing in with concern for your kitties and for attaching the picture of Joe.
It does, in fact, seem as though this is a contagious virus causing a runny nose and irritation. The two most common viruses that cause these symptoms in cats are feline herpes virus and calicivirus, which you can read about in more detail on this page.
As long as it is not affecting their appetites, the virus will likely spread through the household and run its course. That said, though, cats are at risk for developing secondary bacterial infections, which are often noted with green or yellow discharge coming from the nose or eyes. These bacterial infections may require antibiotic treatment for your cats to fully recover. Upper respiratory congestion in cats can also negatively impact their appetites, so it is important to make sure that your cats continue to eat, especially while you are seeing this redness and irritation on their noses.
If you notice any colored discharge coming from the nose, swelling or redness to their eyes, or if there is any change in their appetites, they should be seen by a veterinarian for possible treatment.