cat runny eye

The Complete Guide To Feline Watery Eyes!

There is nothing more precious than the love and companionship of a cat.

Our feline friends seem to have a way to warm the heart, and they always make life a little better. It’s our job to make sure they are healthy and safe.

Unfortunately, any animal can develop health problems along the way. So it’s essential to make sure your kitty is in top shape.

According to Dr. Becker, runny eyes is a very common problem with cats, and it’s not always a cause for alarm.

After running for an extended period, a gooey buildup forms in the corners and down the bridge of the nose.

This unsightly problem is uncomfortable for the feline friend. Some kitties are prone to this issue more than others.

It all comes down to genetics and environmental factors. While runny eyes are mostly a benign problem, any ongoing situation should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

Did You Know The Fur Can Play A Part In Eye Health?

Imagine wearing a carpet wrapped around you all day long. This carpeting absorbs allergens in the air, dirt, dust, and all sorts of debris.

The fur is mostly like a rug. Why do you see so many stray cats or “alley cats” with running eyes?

If your cat has watery eyes, Dr. Jeromin from suggests looking to the fur for answers.

Are you using a new shampoo or spray on them that could be affecting their allergies?

Have they been exposed to household cleaners or perfumed sprays that could be irritating them? Their fur acts like a sponge soaking up the atmosphere.

If you have constant running eyes, their hair may be the key to understanding what’s going on.

Is the Cat’s Eye Discharge Yellow or Clear and Sticky?

Another critical detail to soling runny eyes lies within the discharge. Examine your cats’ runny eyes and see what color it’s producing.

If the discharge is yellow or green, then it means there is an infection or a virus present.

Bacterial infections are notorious for producing the colored release that matts the entire area.

You must also identify if the discharge is clear or has a yellow tinge as this can mean infection.

Any colored mucus in the eye is a sign of trouble and needs to be medically evaluated.

It’s possible that the mucus is clear. It may be a bit sticky like the mucus from the nasal cavities.

Most vets like to wait a couple of weeks to see if this virus clears up on its own. Viral infections don’t usually need to be medicated.

However, clear mucus can quickly change over time, and it becomes a more significant problem.

The veterinarian may want to do some lab tests to make sure what type of bacteria is present.

In the case of bacteria, antibiotic eyedrops, as well as some medicated salve, will usually solve the problem.

Are the Tissues Red and Inflamed Around the Eyes?

While you’re evaluating the mucus, you also need to examine the tissues around the eyes.

Sometimes only one eye seems to be affected, but when both eyes are troubled, then the chances of conjunctivitis increase. Pinkeye is common among cats and humans.

Pink eye is caused by dirt and debris getting beyond the protective barriers inside the eye.

The pink membrane inside the eye is called the conjunctiva. When inflammation is in this area, it’s called conjunctivitis or pink eye.

It all starts because of a problem with the tear film. The tear film is responsible for keeping debris from getting into the eye. This layer also provides the nutrients and moisture that the eye needs.

When the bacteria are overpowering the body’s defense mechanisms, the tear film will swell and cannot properly do its job.

Not only do the eyes look engorged and inflamed, but it can cause a great deal of discomfort for the animal. The cause can either be from an infectious or non-infectious source.

Infectious components include bacteria, feline herpes virus or caliciviral. The non-infectious cause is from airborne allergens.

Things like chemicals and dust can wreak havoc on the animal’s sensitive eyes.

If you have more than one cat in your home, it’s necessary to confine the cat to one area, and you must restrict access to the other felines.

 Conjunctivitis is extremely contagious, and it can turn into a costly problem if several cats are sick.

While challenging to deal with, pink eye is a prevalent condition that most fur friends will experience at least once during their life.

Does Your Cat Have A Reoccurring Allergy Problem?

Cats are not immune to allergies. Though we think of sneezing, coughing, and watering eyes being connected to human allergy problems, felines are not invulnerable. Depending on where you live, it can affect your furry friend.

Just like people, your feline can develop allergic reactions to things like pollen, mold, dust, and dander.

Though tearing eyes is one of the main signs of an allergy issue, there are other signs you can watch for in your cat.

Felines with allergy problems will often scratch at their neck and head.

Some other signs of allergies include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Digging at Ears and Frequent Ear Infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Chewing on Paws Often
  • Swollen Paws
  • Coughing and Vomiting
  • Excessive Snoring

Cats can be allergic to anything. However, some of the most common things that irritate their sinuses are:

  • Grass and Weeds
  • Mold and Mildew
  • Dust Pollen
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Cigarettes
  • Certain Fabrics
  • Rubber Products
  • Plastic Products

If you are continually having issues with your cat and runny eyes, and they display some of the other symptoms of allergies, it’s best to have a vet check them out. A vet can run a series of tests to find a medication to help.

One such test is taking a skin sample. The skin sample is examined under a microscope where the allergen can be identified.

There are several medications on the market that can ease the pain of sinus inflammation and bring much-needed relief to your pet.

However, sometimes it can be as simple as changing their food. Your vet can better help you diagnose and treat the issue after doing tests.

Are Your Cat’s Eyes Cloudy?

The conditions discussed so far have been more benign. While they bring discomfort, they often don’t cause loss of vision.

However, if the eye is cloudy, and the cat is rubbing their head, then the issue could be a cause for alarm.

With a corneal ulcer, you may or may not see tearing. If a cat has had problems with tearing in the past and suddenly it stops, then it may be an indication of a medical emergency. Examine the cat’s eyes to see if they are cloudy in appearance.

If there is an ulcer present and it’s not treated, then the cat may go blind. Ulcers form after trauma, like a blow to the head, or a deep scratch in the eye.

Chemicals can cause them too. Simple things like getting shampoo in their eyes can cause damage to the cornea, which results in an ulcer.

As a pet owner, you should know that corneal ulcers are extremely painful. To try to deal with the discomfort, a cat will often rub their eye, blink continuously, or squint. Some may keep it closed too because of matting.

The discharge from the affected area will run down the face as well as the pool in the corner of the eye.

However, the cloudy appearance is the main sign that help is needed. This medical matter requires prompt veterinarian attention to save the eye.

Are There Congenital Abnormalities to Be Concerned With?

Whether it be a human or feline friend, genetics play a prominent role in our lives. You inherit things from your parents.

Has anyone ever told you that you had your mother’s eyes or your father’s hands? Cats also inherit traits, both good and bad.

Runny eyes can develop in any cat, but it’s more predominant in those that have smashed faces and a rounded skull.

Animals who fall into this category are called brachycephalic breeds in both the canine and feline world.

Animals affected include Pekingese, Pugs, Shi Tzu, Persians, and Himalayans. This condition is often seen in mixed bread cats too as they have many genetic attributes.

While the shape of the eye can be troublesome, the eyelashes and eyelid can also contribute to the problem. The form of the eye may have a deformation, which is known as epiphora.

In this condition, the tears cannot be properly maintained within the eye due to its figure.

The tears will overflow and spill down the face. Distichiasis is a condition where the eyelashes are backward. Rather than turning outward, these lashes turn inward.

Another problem is when the eyelids turn inward and cause difficulties with tears. This problem is called entropion. Lastly, Entropion can affect the upper lid, the lower lid, or both.

Some shorthaired cats don’t even have an eyelid, and the tears have nothing to help them maintain inside the eye. Do you think your cat may be suffering from epiphora?

Here are some of the typical systems that occur with tear drainage:

  • Squinting
  • Irritation – Swelling – Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Colored or Clear Discharge
  • Corneal Ulcers
  • Sagging Skin Around The Eyes

Why Getting the Help Your Pet Needs Is So Important?

Observe your pet and their runny eyes. The condition may come and go, which is often the case when allergies are involved.

You may need to play detective to find out what’s getting into your cat’s sinus area and causing irritation.

If the problem keeps coming back, then it’s best to let a veterinarian examine the issue.

Different tests can be done to find out the root of the problem. These tests include:


A radiograph will go into the nose and sinus cavities to look for any lesions. These lesions are a clear sign of damage due to constant allergens.


Though costlier, a CT or MRI scan can give a comprehensive view of what’s going on near the eyes and sinus areas.


The vet may remove some of the drainages to be sent to a lab for analysis. This can often determine what kind of infection is present and help get to the cause.

Surgical Exploration

In many cases, the only accurate way to find out what’s going on is through exploratory surgery.

During this procedure, the vet can flush out the ducts. They often find foreign materials lodged in the tear ducts and causing the problem.

Fluorescein Stain

Fluorescein stain is a dye that is used under a blue light. It shows the detail of the eye and can illuminate any abrasions or other issues within this area. The process is non-invasive.

How Can You Help To Resolve Watery Eyes?

As a pet parent, there are many things you can do to help with watery eyes. Avoid harsh perfumes and air fresheners that may be irritating to both you and your pet’s sinus areas.

Only use household cleaners that are organic and chemical free. Make sure to vacuum often to pick up the debris trapped in your carpeting.

Also, you should brush your cat’s fur frequently to ensure that you remove any dirt and dander trapped in the fibers.

Lastly, make sure to wash the eyes and the area with a warm cloth whenever possible.

By keeping this area clean, you can help your cat from getting irritant into their eyes. It takes just a little bit of effort to help ward off sinus issues.

If your efforts to improve runny eyes aren’t helping your pet, then you should make an appointment with your local vet for more testing. You want to make sure the matter isn’t serious.

This video explains every condition that causes runny eyes in cats and the things that can be done to correct these common issues.

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