Why Are My Cats Eyes Watering?
It isn’t unusual for a cat to have watery eyes (epiphora) on occasion. There are many reasons why a cat’s eyes may water. Sometimes it isn’t a big deal. Other times, it could be an indicator of a serious ocular problem that if left untreated, could lead to blindness. This article will discuss the causes of watery cat eyes.
To recognize when a cat’s eyes have an issue, you must first understand what is normal. A cat’s eyes should be clear and bright. Nothing should obstruct the black pupil or colored iris. The occasional clear discharge and even a bit of crust are normal.
What Isn’t Normal
When a cat has weeping eyes that persist, or there is a yellow discharge or a sticky discharge, those are signs that something is wrong. Also, swollen or cloudy eyes indicate something needs medical attention right away. Ignoring these serious symptoms could lead to blindness.
Causes Of a Cats Eyes Watering
There are many reasons why a cat’s eyes will water, including:
An indicator of an eye infection is watery, goopy eyes. Clear discharge, on the other hand usually means the infection is viral. Bacterial eye infections have yellow or greenish discharge. Leaving an eye infection untreated can lead to permanent eye damage. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect any kind of eye infection.
Upper Respiratory Infection
Kittens and seniors are the most susceptible to upper respiratory infections which cause watery noses and eyes and general lethargy. These infections are highly contagious. Eye discharge can be clear or tinted and there may be crust as well. In some cases the eyes may be crusted shut, or close to it. Additionally, there may be nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat has an upper respiratory infection.
Calicivirus and Herpesvirus
Calicivirus and herpesvirus can cause chronic watery eyes. Symptoms of the herpes virus include watery eyes, discharge, and tear staining. These viruses can be treated with prescription eye drops or ointments.
Allergies are a common issue for felines that can cause eye irritation, inflammation, excessive tearing, and watery discharge. Some cats may also appear itchy or groom excessively. Common allergens are mold, pollen, dust, and household cleaning products. If you are unable to determine and eliminate the allergen, contact your veterinarian to help pinpoint the problem.
Blocked Tear Ducts
The most common cause of blocked tear ducts tend to be dust or mucus. When the ducts become blocked, tears can’t drain which leads to the appearance of watery eyes.
This condition is commonly referred to as dry eye and is an underproduction of the tear film on the eyes. When this happens, the eyes aren’t properly lubricated and dust isn’t being washed away. Untreated, this condition can lead to blindness. Symptoms are excessive blinking, and a thick, yellow discharge.
Conjunctivitis (Viral or Bacterial)
This is inflammation of the mucosa surrounding the cat’s eyes which makes them appear red and swollen. It also causes sensitivity to light. Discharge from conjunctivitis can be clear and watery or thick and yellow if the infection is bacterial.
This is a condition where the eyelashes roll inward and irritate the eye’s cornea. Symptoms include excessive tear production, squinting, inflammation, redness, and rubbing the eye with a paw. Your veterinarian can recommend a treatment.
Excessive tearing, blinking, squinting, and pawing the eyes indicate a possible foreign body in the cat’s eye. Objects such as grass, grass seeds, dirt, dust, or other substances can get in the eye and cause irritation. Left untreated, a foreign body can damage the cornea. Call your veterinarian right away if you suspect your cat has something in their eye.
These include ulcers or scratches on the surface of the eye. These injuries are very painful and should be treated right away. Otherwise, further damage could occur leading to surgery. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
Breed Related Eye Disorders
The flat-faced cat breeds as well as some others are predisposed to ocular problems. British Shorthairs and Persians have watery eyes because of the shape of their head. Often these cats will have stained hair beneath their eyes. Pay attention to these cats for visual problems.
Preventing Eye Problems
As well as keeping your cat physically healthy, keep their eyes healthy is important too. Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian. If your cat has already been diagnosed with an eye condition, they may be placed on preventative ointments or eye drops.
If you notice your cat pawing their eyes and they seem painful, contact your veterinarian right away. If your cat’s eyes are bulging, red, or cloudy, this indicates possible serious ocular problems. Some conditions, such as glaucoma are very painful and can become worse very quickly. A condition like glaucoma can lead to blindness.
There are many reasons a cat could have runny eyes, from a mild annoying situation to a serious condition that could lead to blindness. Never try to diagnose and treat your cat’s visual problem on your own. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian and have your cat’s eyes examined so the proper treatment can be prescribed. Your cat’s visual problems could be just one part of another illness and should never be ignored. Ignoring a situation that could have been treated that progressed to blindness would be awful for you and your cat. Never take chances with ocular problems. The risk is simply too great to leave it undiagnosed and untreated.
At Central Broward Animal Hospital in Plantation, FL, we are ready to help you and your cat with whatever you may need! Call us at (954) 792-6323 to schedule an appointment or if you have any questions about your cats eyes watering!