How to Draw a Cat's Nose

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Cat nose in color, in proportion with the cat's other features in grayscale.
Cat nose in color, in proportion with the cat's other features in grayscale.

If you're a cat lover and you love to draw, naturally you'll want to know how to draw your cat accurately! This article goes specifically into a feature that's difficult on many creatures -- the nose is different on every animal. Cats' noses are cute and endearing -- and a bit tricky to get right, until you know how!

Things You'll Need

  • Pen or pencil
  • Drawing paper
  • A friendly cat or a cat photo for reference

The easiest way to draw a cat's nose is a simple triangle with the point down. This is great for cartoons, and you can draw a very cute cartoon cat just by getting the proportions and placement of nose, eyes and mouth right. Here's an example by itself and in context on a cartoon kitten face.

Cartoon cat nose and cartoon kitten face
Cartoon cat nose and cartoon kitten face

The shape of a cat's nose seen directly in front is a combination of some delicate curves. First, it is divided down the center by a very fine indentation where the two sides come together. The top of the cat's nose dips slightly in the center. The bottom of the septum flares out a little, then dips in and curls outward around the nostrils. You will rarely see this shape unless the cat's chin is lifted till it's on eye level with you. Normally it'll be at an angle as you look down at the cat, but this is the shape of a cat's nose looking directly at it. Practice this shape. I've added the muzzle and chin for context and relative size.

Shape of a cat's nose directly from the front.
Shape of a cat's nose directly from the front.

This is a more natural pose for a cat's nose, seen angled down and slightly from the side, almost a 7/8ths view of the kitten's face. The nose is in color for emphasis. On the top of the nose, there is an upside down vee of fur direction change. Below it, the hairs are short, smooth and point down toward the nose. Above it, they are short, smooth and point toward the forehead, gradually lengthening as they approach the cat's forehead and become as long as the top of the head hair. On longhaired cats the nose fur is still that short, it's how their facial hair is shaped. Capturing that subtle change of fur direction in a drawing is best accomplished by a soft highlight or changing the direction of your strokes. Hint at it but don't let it dominate the drawing. I stopped the color right where the nose hairs change direction to turn upward. This cat has very large eyes because he's a half grown kitten.

Cat's nose at a slight angle, color stops where nose fur changes direction.
Cat's nose at a slight angle, color stops where nose fur changes direction.

Drawing a cat's nose in profile is very recognizable. The short muzzle and tiny dip of the nose make it instantly obvious it's a cat and could not be any other animal. The illustration is a life drawing of my cat, who was looking away. He relaxed long enough for me to draw his profile and sketch him before he moved.

Profile of a Siamese longhair in pencil by Robert A. Sloan.
Profile of a Siamese longhair in pencil by Robert A. Sloan.

Tips & Warnings

  • Practice drawing your cat from life when the cat's sleeping.
  • Snap webcam or phone camera images of your cat's face whenever your cat sits still, you don't need a lot of resolution to draw accurately.
  • Try drawing cats from ads in magazines or the newspaper, copying the photos for proportion and shading.
  • Sketch cats often without worrying about getting them perfect, and eventually you'll know a cat's features so well you can do a lifelike cat from imagination and memory!
  • Don't try to draw your cat after the cat moves, abandon that life sketch and do another one in the new pose. It's easy to distort proportions when an animal moves.
  • Don't copy photos exactly without permission from the photographer or using your own photo. Change the markings or color, crop the image, make enough changes so that your art is unique. Using more than one reference helps a lot to avoid copyright violation, maybe do the background from a different photo.
  • Try to make sure the light is coming from the same direction in all your references if you use more than one reference.

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