Why Are My Cat's Eyes Watering? Understanding Causes and Solutions

Dec 17


Rachael Huntress

Rachael Huntress

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Have you ever noticed your cat’s eyes watering and wondered, “why are my cats eyes watering?” Not only is it crucial to understand the potential causes, but also how to identify symptoms, and most importantly, how to treat and prevent this common issue. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of your cat’s eye health, helping you become a more informed and proactive pet parent.

Key Takeaways

  • Recognize watery eyes in cats,Why Are My Cat's Eyes Watering? Understanding Causes and Solutions Articles which can be caused by excessive tearing or poor tear drainage.
  • Common causes may include allergies, infections and breed predispositions that disrupt the normal tear drainage process.
  • Treatment options range from home remedies to medical interventions and surgical procedures. Consult a veterinarian if symptoms persist or worsen.

Recognizing Watery Eyes in Cats

Cat with watery eyes Firstly, identifying the signs of watery eyes in your feline friend is key. While a cat’s eyes can naturally produce tears for lubrication and protection, excessive tearing, also known as epiphora, can be indicative of some underlying issues. Symptoms of excessive tear production can encompass:

  • Wetness around the eyes
  • Staining of the fur beneath the eyes
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Squinting
  • Behavioral changes such as pawing at the eyes or sneezing.

Aside from these, noticeable changes in the color or clarity of the eye could also imply a problem. Additionally, a runny nose or discharge from it, common in many cat colds and similar to a human cold, could accompany watery eyes. These symptoms together should not be ignored as they could indicate an eye infection or other health problems. However, it is also worth noting that some cats naturally produce more tears than others, especially if they have reddish-brown tear stains beneath their eyes.

Wetness around the eyes

Excessive tearing or an issue with tear drainage could be the reason behind wetness around your cat’s eyes. Excessive tearing could occur due to a variety of reasons, one of them being the overproduction of tears. Another reason could be the inability of tears to drain properly through the tear ducts. In some cases, a foreign body or foreign object in the eye could also trigger excessive tearing.

Flat-faced breeds, such as certain cat breeds, often exhibit wetness around their eyes due to their shortened muzzles, which can lead to poor tear drainage as the tears cannot flow normally into the nose. This specific breed trait can cause the eyes to be persistently wet, leading to potential staining and secondary skin infections.

Discharge from the eyes

Discharge from your cat’s eyes is another symptom you should be aware of, which can indicate an infection, inflammation, or other underlying issue, such as conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation surrounding the eye that can result in redness, swelling, light sensitivity, and watery eyes. It can be triggered by an infection, such as a feline upper respiratory infection, allergy, or even dust.

One of the symptoms to watch out for is a yellow and viscous discharge resulting from inadequate fluid production, also known as dry eye. This condition in cats can cause discomfort and often needs veterinary care. A scratched eye, infection, or exposure to chemicals can also lead to an eye ulcer, another condition that can cause watery eyes.

Behavioral changes

Behavioral changes may also significantly indicate discomfort or irritation due to watery eyes. If your cat starts pawing at its eyes, blinks excessively, or starts squinting, it is a clear sign that something is causing discomfort in their eyes. These are telltale signs that your feline friend needs attention and potentially, veterinary medicine advice.

Common Causes of Watery Eyes in Cats

Allergens affecting cat's eyes Having understood the symptoms, we can now explore the common causes of watery eyes in cats. These can range from allergies and irritants to infections and breed predispositions. Some common causes include:

  • Allergies: usually triggered by irritants such as dust, pollen, or cleaning products, leading to inflammation and heightened tear production, causing the eyes to water.
  • Infections: such as conjunctivitis or upper respiratory infections, can inflame the eye’s tissues, leading to excessive tear production and thus, watery eyes.
  • Breed predispositions: certain cat breeds, such as Persians, are more prone to watery eyes due to their facial structure.

It is important to identify the underlying cause of watery eyes in your cat in order to provide appropriate treatment. If you are unsure, it is best to consult with a veterinarian.

Certain cat breeds, particularly the flat-faced or brachycephalic breeds, are predisposed to developing watery eyes due to their facial structure impacting tear drainage. Furthermore, conditions such as:

  • blocked tear ducts
  • rhinitis
  • sinusitis
  • distichiasis (abnormal growth of eyelashes)

Various factors can all disrupt the normal tear drainage process, leading to the issue of watery eye and watery eyes.

Allergies and irritants

Watery eyes in cats, also known as cat eye watering, can sometimes be referred to as cat’s eye watering. This condition, which may present as cat’s eyes watering, is often caused by allergies and irritants, leading to cat’s watery eyes. Environmental allergens such as:

  • mold
  • cleaning products
  • perfumes
  • pollen

can lead to inflammation and heightened tear production. Minimizing your cat’s exposure to these allergens requires eliminating the particular allergen from their surroundings if feasible, or seeking guidance from your veterinarian if the allergen cannot be pinpointed.

The available treatments for feline eye allergies include the application of artificial tears and ensuring the elimination of the allergen from the cat’s environment. However, if your cat experiences an allergic reaction to a medication, it is advisable to seek professional guidance from a veterinarian to obtain an alternative treatment better suited for your cat’s well-being.

Infections and inflammation

Potential causes of watery eyes in cats include:

  • Infections and inflammation, such as conjunctivitis or upper respiratory infections
  • The feline herpes virus and Chlamydia felis, which can contribute to conjunctivitis
  • Feline upper respiratory infections, which can manifest as watery eyes and signs of conjunctivitis

In such cases, lab tests may be necessary to aid in the diagnosis of the underlying cause of the issue.

Physical abnormalities and breed predispositions

Physical abnormalities and certain breed predispositions play a part in causing cats to have watery eyes. Cat breeds with flat faces, such as Persians, Himalayans, and exotic shorthairs, are more susceptible to watery eyes due to their facial structure. Physical abnormalities such as abnormal eyelash growth, malformations of the eyelids, and blockages in the tear ducts can result in watery eyes in cats.

The anatomical structure of flat-faced cat breeds often hinders the adequate drainage of tears, thus serving as the predominant cause of their watery eyes. Furthermore, insufficient development of a cat’s tear ducts can result in persistent eye issues such as increased tear production and frequent infections.

Treatment Options for Watery Eyes in Cats

Cat receiving medical treatment for watery eyes After identifying the symptoms and understanding the causes, the next step is addressing the issue with effective treatment options. These treatments for watery eyes in cats range from simple home remedies to more intensive medical interventions and even surgical procedures, depending on the cause.

Antibiotic eye drops and ointments are frequently recommended for bacterial infections causing watery eyes, and the supplementary administration of pain relief or anti-inflammatory medications may also be utilized. In more serious cases, surgical procedures may be deemed necessary if a cat has blocked nasolacrimal ducts that cannot be resolved by flushing, or if conditions such as entropion or underdeveloped tear ducts are present.

Home remedies and prevention

Home remedies and preventative measures form the first line of treatment for watery eyes in cats. Regular grooming, which plays a key role in maintaining cleanliness and preventing irritation from foreign substances like dirt or shampoo, is vital for preventing watery eyes in cats.

During cat grooming, it is advisable to refrain from allowing water or shampoo to come into contact with their eyes. Utilizing a pitcher or gentle spray hose for rinsing while being mindful to avoid the face and eyes is recommended. Additionally, employing eye wipes or tear stain remover for the fur surrounding their eyes can be beneficial.

Unwanted allergens can be removed by using unscented wipes like Pogi’s Pet Wipes, deemed safe for cleaning a cat’s eye area.

Medical interventions

Medical interventions may be necessary if home remedies do not suffice. Veterinarians may prescribe medical interventions, including antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications, to address infections or inflammation that may be causing the watery eyes in cats. Conjunctivitis in cats is best addressed through proper diagnosis and treatment under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Commonly prescribed antibiotics for treating eye infections in cats include Terramycin® Ophthalmic Ointment and Vetropolycin® Veterinary Ophthalmic Ointment. Anti-inflammatory medications can alleviate watery eyes in cats by reducing inflammation and swelling in the eye tissues. This can help to relieve discomfort and promote normal tear production. Common anti-inflammatory medications used for this purpose in cats include corticosteroid drops or ointments.

Surgical procedures

Surgical procedures might be necessary in cases with physical abnormalities or blocked tear ducts. Typical surgical interventions used to address excessive tearing in felines involve enlarging the opening to the duct, removing tumors or foreign bodies from the duct, and placing a stent to facilitate flow through the lacrimal duct.

Potential risks and side effects linked to surgical interventions for addressing excessive tearing in feline eyes may encompass:

  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Discomfort

It is crucial to engage in a discussion with a veterinarian to carefully consider the specific risks and potential complications associated with the surgical procedure for your cat’s condition.

The recovery period for a cat following surgery for watery eyes can vary based on the particular procedure and the cat’s unique healing process. It is crucial to adhere to post-operative care guidelines provided by your veterinarian and to watch for any potential complications.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

Cat being examined by a veterinarian Knowing when to seek professional help is crucial after trying home remedies and possible medical interventions. It is advisable to seek the advice of a veterinarian if your cat’s watery eyes persist, worsen, or are accompanied by signs of pain or distress. If your cat typically does not have watery eyes, if the symptoms persist for more than a few hours, or if your pet seems distressed by their eyes, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention.

Even if you only suspect a serious ailment like feline glaucoma in your cat, it’s crucial to promptly seek veterinary assistance to prevent exacerbation of symptoms or permanent damage. The same applies even if you observe eye discharge or an injury in your cat’s eye. This is essential as eye issues can rapidly worsen without appropriate treatment.

Persistent or worsening symptoms

The need for professional help might be signaled by persistent or worsening symptoms. Indicators of severe eye ailments in felines may encompass:

  • Redness
  • Discharge (mucus and pus)
  • Tearing
  • Cloudiness
  • Excessive tear production
  • Closed or swollen eyes
  • Changes in eye appearance

The duration of symptoms in cats before seeking veterinary help is not set in stone. It varies based on the severity of the symptoms and the cat’s overall health. If the symptoms are severe, worsening, or causing distress to the cat, it is advisable to seek veterinary help promptly.

Leaving eye conditions untreated in cats can result in potential complications such as:

  • Redness
  • Discharge (mucus & pus)
  • Tearing
  • Cloudiness
  • Enlarged eye
  • Cloudy cornea
  • Redness
  • Dilated pupil
  • Inflamed cornea
  • Potential blindness

Signs of pain or distress

Monitoring your cat for signs of pain or distress is of equal importance, which can indicate a serious issue that requires prompt veterinary attention. Indicators of a cat suffering from eye discomfort may include:

  • tearing
  • pawing at the eye
  • rubbing the face
  • reluctance to eat hard foods or fully open the mouth
  • squinting

Typical behaviors of a cat in distress due to eye discomfort include:

  • Squinting or closing its eyes
  • Rubbing or pawing at the affected eye
  • Redness or inflammation around the eye
  • Tearing or excessive eye discharge
  • Reluctance to eat or reduced appetite
  • Lethargy or decreased activity levels

If your cat exhibits these signs, it is advisable to seek the expertise of a veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Maintaining Your Cat's Eye Health

Cat receiving regular eye check-up Understanding how to maintain your cat’s eye health is crucial, in addition to recognizing the symptoms and knowing the possible treatments. Regular vet visits, proper grooming, and monitoring for changes are critical for maintaining your cat’s eye health.

Regular vet visits are vital to uphold a cat’s eye health, enabling early detection of eye-related issues. Vets conduct comprehensive examinations to identify any changes or abnormalities, thereby preventing the advancement of conditions and ensuring timely treatment.

Grooming plays a significant role in preventing eye infections in cats by effectively removing dirt, debris, and potential irritants from around their eyes, thus reducing the risk of irritation and infection. Additionally, it facilitates the early identification of any signs of eye problems, enabling prompt treatment.

It is also recommended to check your cat’s eyes at least once a week for any changes in order to identify potential issues early and ensure prompt treatment, as maintaining your pet’s cat’s eyes health is crucial.

Regular check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for maintaining a cat’s eye health as they facilitate early detection and treatment of eye problems. Standard eye-related examinations conducted during routine veterinary check-ups for cats typically include tear production test (Schirmer test), vision testing, and examination of the structures of the eye.

Regular vet check-ups play a crucial role in the early detection of eye issues in cats by enabling the veterinarian to conduct thorough eye exams. These exams help establish the cat’s baseline eye health and enable monitoring for any changes during future visits. Detecting eye conditions early allows for timely intervention and treatment, ultimately improving the cat’s eye health outcomes.

Proper grooming

By effectively removing dirt, debris, and potential irritants from around their eyes, regular grooming plays a vital role in preventing eye infections in cats, thus reducing the risk of irritation and infection. The proper procedure for cleaning a cat’s eyes in a safe manner involves:

  • Washing your hands thoroughly
  • Using sterilized or cooled boiled water with a bit of salt
  • Gently wiping each eye from the inside corner outwards with a clean washcloth or cotton ball
  • Using a separate cleaning material for each eye
  • Drying the surrounding areas with a soft towel or tissue

Grooming products that are safe to use around a cat’s eyes include those specifically formulated for cats and endorsed by veterinarians, such as tear stain removers, eye wipes, and gentle eye cleansers. It is essential to seek advice from a veterinarian before using any grooming products near your cat’s eyes to ensure their safety and efficacy.

Monitoring for changes

As important as regular check-ups and proper grooming is the regular monitoring of your cat’s eyes for changes. Typical physical indicators to monitor for in a cat’s eye health include:

  • lumps and bumps on the eyelids
  • cloudiness or opacity in the eye
  • redness or inflammation
  • squinting or blinking excessively
  • changes in pupil size or responsiveness to light
  • sticky or excessive discharge from the eye

It is advisable to monitor your cat’s eyes for changes regularly, ideally as part of their routine annual veterinary check-up. Indicators of an immediate need for veterinary care for a cat’s eyes include:

  • Redness around the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Discharge
  • Swelling
  • Excessive blinking
  • Squinting
  • Pawing at the eyes
  • General discomfort
  • Twitching or spasming of the eyelid
  • Rapid blinking
  • Inability to open the eye

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to seek veterinary care for your cat’s eyes.


In conclusion, maintaining your cat’s eye health involves understanding and recognizing the symptoms of watery eyes, knowing the possible causes, and being proactive about treatment. Regular check-ups, proper grooming, and monitoring for changes are crucial steps for maintaining your cat’s eye health. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian. After all, our feline friends rely on us to keep them healthy, and their eye health is a vital part of their overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be worried if my cats eye is watering?

If your cat's eyes continue to water for more than a day or two, or if they show signs of pain or infection, it's time to take them to the vet. You should be worried and seek medical attention immediately to ensure your cat is healthy and comfortable.

How do you treat watery eyes in cats?

Treatment for watery eyes in cats may involve removal of foreign bodies, the use of antihistamines to manage allergies, antibiotics to treat infections or conjunctivitis, and pain relief with anti-inflammatories. Depending on the cause, medications can come as eyedrops or ointment, or can be given orally.

Why is water coming out of my cat's eyes?

Water coming out of your cat's eyes could be a sign of allergies, dust irritation, or something more serious like pink eye or glaucoma. If it is accompanied by other symptoms, you should seek professional help from a vet.

What does it mean when a cat has teary eyes?

If your cat's eyes are teary, it is likely due to a minor health issue and should clear up without veterinary care. However, if the problem persists, you should consult a vet for further diagnosis.

When should I consult a veterinarian for my cat's watery eyes?

If your cat's watery eyes persist, worsen, or cause distress, you should consult a veterinarian.

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