Why does a cat have watery eyes and what to do?

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 11.07.2019

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The release of tears in cats and cats is not uncommon, because such a state is a kind of protective reaction of the cat's body to various irritating factors. Moreover, if a cat has watery eyes, then the disease does not always become the cause. However, the presence of pathology should not be ruled out - in some cases, tearing is really caused by dangerous painful conditions. In order to "know the enemy in person", you need to familiarize yourself with the general information relating to this problem.


According to statistics, in kittens up to one year old, the eyes water in 70% of cases. For adult cats, such statistics are not kept.

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Causes of the cat's tearing eyes

What can cause tears in a cat? There are a lot of such factors:

  • Features of the breed.

Some cats have a peculiar structure of the skull, with a short lacrimal canal. For example, this is observed in Persians, British, exotic short-haired breeds. Experts say that this state is normalized by about one-year-old animal, when the bone system stabilizes. However, in some cases, this sign remains in the cat for life.

  • Mechanical impact.

Often, cats - especially those who have access to the street, experience mechanical damage to the organs of vision. This can occur after a cat "showdown", when "hunting" for birds or rodents, in contact with sharp branches or other objects.

  • Allergic process.

The cat is not less susceptible to allergies than people. Allergies can occur for almost the same reasons as people: when they eat allergenic food, when they inhale dust or pollen, when they come in contact with detergents, chemicals. As a result, tearing of allergic conjunctivitis develops.

  • Eye burns.

Not alien to cats and burn eye damage. So, a cat may well “stick his nose” in a solvent or alkaline solution, in acid, etc. It is not necessary for aggressive liquid to get into the eye of an animal. Sometimes there is enough solution vapor to make tears flow in the cat.

  • Helminthiasis, fleas.

Both worms and fleas can cause tears in cats. This is due to the specific response of the organism.

  • Inflammatory process.

Conjunctival inflammation may be caused by viruses, fungal or microbial infections. In addition to conjunctivitis, the development of blepharitis, tumors, etc. Is not excluded.

Sometimes the discharge of tears occurs in newborn kittens that still do not know how to care for themselves, and also have a weakened immune system. In addition, the discharge of tears in adults is possible if the animal walks outside in windy or frosty weather.


Risk factors

Most of the cases in which a cat has watery eyes, occur under the influence of such risk factors:

  • colds in an animal;
  • allergic processes;
  • helminthiasis;
  • external damage to the eye;
  • eye diseases, inflammatory processes;
  • hereditary and congenital defects, characteristics of the breed;
  • viral and microbial diseases of the eye.

trusted-source[11], [12], [13]


Tears from cat's eyes are a protective response of the body to irritating factors, both internal and external. It is considered one of the normal variants when a small amount of discharge accumulates and dries in the inner corners of the eye of the pet - this becomes especially noticeable when the animal wakes up after a long sleep. The natural mechanism necessary for wetting and rinsing the eye organ in cats is not dangerous, so transparent tears are considered the norm. If the cat’s tears are excreted in large quantities, or there are traces of pus or blood in them, this may indicate the development of a serious pathology.

Generally speaking, the most common reasons why a cat may have watery eyes are: mechanical damage to the organ of vision, the introduction of viruses, microbes, and allergies. The severity of those or other symptoms, as well as the choice of treatment tactics, largely depends on the cause.

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Symptoms of the cat's tearing eyes

Tears in cats can stand out clearly: at the same time transparent or turbid drops are found in the corners of the eyes. If tears are allocated irregularly or in small quantities, they are recognized by characteristic changes near the eyes: dry spots, crusts, or a peculiar weeping halo appear, especially noticeable in cats with light hair.

The first signs of the discharge of tears in a cat can occur:

  • eyelid swelling;
  • change in the growth of hair near the eyes;
  • discharge of pus;
  • itchy eyelids;
  • temperature increase;
  • photophobia.

The characteristics of the underlying clinical symptoms depend largely on the cause of the tears in the cat. Below are the most common signs of disease in an animal.

  • A cat has watery eyes and sneezes - most often this condition is associated with an inflammatory process in the nasopharynx. Additionally, the temperature may rise, however, for most pets on the fifth or seventh day, the condition returns to normal. If the animal’s immune defense is weak — for example, if the cat is old or has other diseases, the inflammation may be delayed, so a full anti-inflammatory treatment should be carried out.
  • A cat has watery eyes, purulent discharges are visible to the naked eye — such signs may indicate the development of purulent conjunctivitis. This is an infectious pathology that must be treated. And without antibiotic therapy in such a situation can not do.
  • If the cat's eyes are swollen and watery, you must carefully examine the animal. Perhaps he has an eye injury - for example, in a fight or bruise. With mechanical damage to the tissue of the eyelid, they inflame, and this is considered the normal response of the body to injury. In case of violation of the integrity of the eye tissue, it can be noted that the cat has a red eye and watery - this may be due to the presence of a bruise or bleeding if the vessels are damaged. In order to avoid complications, the animal should be shown to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • A cat's eye gets purulent and festering - these signs most often indicate the presence of purulent conjunctivitis, in which a purulent discharge comes out of the animal's eyes against the background of deterioration of the general condition, temperature increase. Some cats and especially kittens may experience nausea and diarrhea. Purulent conjunctivitis can be caused both by an infectious process and by allergies (if you do not take timely measures to eliminate it).
  • A cat has very watery eyes when it is affected by worms, because parasites can lay their larvae almost everywhere. And the organs of vision are no exception. As a rule, the eyes water strongly and for a long time, then the eyelid edema appears, which is not amenable to the usual antibacterial treatment. Further, the swelling may descend into the underlying tissues - for example, on the cheek or mucous gums. In this situation, the owners notice that the cat has a swollen cheek and a watery eye from the side of the lesion, or from both sides at the same time. The owner of the animal will not be able to solve the existing problem on his own - it is necessary to get advice from a veterinarian. In advanced cases, the case can go as far as surgical intervention.
  • A cat has snot and watery eyes not only for colds, although it is bacterial and viral infections that should be excluded first of all, since they are more common. But if a cat has a nose and watery eyes, then it is quite possible to suspect more serious infections - for example, chlamydia or mycoplasmosis. In addition to the eyes, the liver and the urogenital system of the animal suffer from these infections. As a rule, symptoms such as an increase in temperature, congestion of dense masses in the corners of the eyes, problems with urination are added to nasal congestion.
  • If a cat has a runny nose and watery eyes, and sneezing or coughing is also observed, then in most cases it is a cold or a viral infection. As a rule, the disease retreats over several days and the cat recovers on its own.
  • If a cat has watery eyes, a brown color is found after sleep - this is a sign of inflammation, possibly conjunctivitis or keratitis. Keratitis can be identified by the following features: the cornea becomes cloudy, uneven and unhealthy-looking.
  • A cat does not open its eyes and watery with ectropion - twisting of a century. This disease can be both congenital and acquired, and it is associated with a weak ligament of the eyelids. In the initial stages of twisting, the cat suffers a slight discomfort - tears flow from the eyes, the eyelids turn a little red. After a time, signs of an inflammatory reaction are increasing, the eye swells up and stops opening. If no treatment followed, then a chronic inflammatory process develops, up to the formation of a corneal ulcer.
  • If the cat constantly has one eye, then it is necessary to conduct a thorough inspection. Perhaps a mote hit the eye, or the animal has an eyelid wrapped around it and hair rubs against the cornea. Often a domestic cat has a watery eye when household chemicals get into it - for example, a drop of shampoo, toilet water, or a piece of detergent powder gets into the organ of vision. Because of this, often there is not only ordinary eye irritation, but also an allergic reaction.
  • A cat has eyes after eating eyes, if it is allergic to food that the animal eats. To eliminate the problem, it is enough to change the brand of feed.

Meanwhile, not all cases of constant discharge of tears in cats are attributed to pathologies. Often such a phenomenon is simply a feature of some feline breeds associated with the characteristic structure of the lacrimal canals. For example, the owners' complaints that the British have watery eyes or that the Persian’s watery eyes sound quite often. Especially if the problem concerns a small kitten. In such cases, veterinarians reassure: if a Scottish kitten has watery eyes, eyes watering from Scottish Fold, or another kitten up to a year, then later, as a rule, the pet “outgrows” the poorly developed channels are improved, and the problem “leaves” to myself. Only in some cats tearing remains even after they reach sexual maturity. In such a situation, it is said about the individual characteristics of the animal — drugs cannot cure it. If the cat experiences discomfort from constant tearing, then the only way out is to perform a surgical procedure to restore the patency of the tear ducts.

Thus, if a lop-eared cat has watery eyes, or a cat of a different breed, then the first step is to eliminate the development of infections and eye diseases, as well as to check the patency of the lacrimal canal.

Complications and consequences

The most frequent complication of inflammatory tears in cats is keratitis, which, if left untreated, can lead to loss of vision in an animal.

If there is an infectious process that spreads to deep-seated tissues, then purulent complications in the form of abscesses and phlegmon may further develop. Consultation of a veterinarian in such a situation should be urgent, as the cat may die from intoxication.

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Diagnostics of the cat's tearing eyes

If a cat has a watery eye, then diagnostic procedures should be carried out only in a specialized veterinary clinic. A veterinarian may conduct these types of studies:

  • external examination of the animal (exclusion of eye damage, congenital disorders, foreign bodies of the eye);
  • tests for PCR, with a take for the study of secretions from the lacrimal sac, as well as bakposev;
  • ophthalmoscope study;
  • analysis of the patency of the lacrimal canal using fluorescein;
  • blood test of an animal to determine the presence of inflammation.

Instrumental diagnostics, as a rule, is limited to conducting ophthalmoscopy - a comprehensive diagnostic method for assessing the state of the internal structures of the eye. For the study, an ophthalmoscope is used, which allows examining the condition of the fundus, retina, arteries, veins, optic nerve and choroid. The essence of the method consists in the reflection of light rays from the fundus of the eye.

Differential diagnosis

Differential diagnosis is carried out, first of all, with conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis often accompanies many eye and eye pathologies: primary keratitis (ulcerative and non-ulcerative form), “dry eye”, blepharitis, uveitis, glaucoma, dacryocystitis.

It is necessary to distinguish hyperemia of episcleral and conjunctival vessels in order to differentiate dangerous eye diseases (such as glaucoma or uveitis) from superficial and less dangerous processes (for example, from surface keratitis).

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Treatment of the cat's tearing eyes

Treatment is started only after consulting with a doctor: it is not recommended to use preparations for cats on their own, as this often only causes harm to the pet and worsens the course of the underlying disease.

What if a cat has a watery eye? Where to begin?

The first thing experienced cat owners begin is to wash the pet's eyes. True, for this you need to know exactly the cause of tearing in order to choose the right medicinal fluid for the procedure. The most commonly used antiseptic solution, for example, weakly concentrated furatsilin (0.2%). From improvised means can come plant extracts of chamomile, calendula, or just strong black or green tea.

Often, after consulting with a veterinarian, after washing behind the eyelid, a ball of anti-bacterial eye ointment, for example, tetracycline, is placed. Do the listed procedures very carefully: for example, the solution for washing should not be either hot or cold. The same applies to eye ointment.

They also wash their eyes with other special solutions that can be obtained from a veterinary pharmacy - these can be Trixie or Beafar Oftal agents known to many.

If tears in an animal are triggered by the ingress of a foreign body in the eye, then the latter must be removed. You should not try to do it yourself - in most cases, such attempts will only harm the cat, and the problem is aggravated. Removal should be carried out by a specialist, and even then only after he has performed anesthesia and disinfection.


  • Eye external agents - ointments, drops:
  1. Sulfacyl sodium, Sofradex can be purchased at a regular “human” pharmacy, they are used drop by drop twice a day for five days in a row. Among the side effects can be identified the appearance of transient flaking on the eyelids, a slight itching that passes after stopping the use of drops.
  2. Leopard - veterinary drops based on chloramphenicol and furatsilina. The drug is dripped after pre-washing the cat's eyes, 1-2 drops, up to 4 times a day. The duration of treatment is not more than 14 days. Usually such drops are well tolerated by cats and do not cause adverse events.
  3. Missofen F is an ointment based on chloramphenicol and levamisole. The tool is placed under the conjunctiva of the affected eye of the cat twice a day, for no more than five days. Complications during treatment, as a rule, are not observed.
  4. Maxidine is an immunomodulating and antiallergic eye drop. Liquid drip after pre-washing the affected eye, 1-2 drops up to 3 times per day, until recovery. If the tool is used, adhering to the therapeutic scheme, the animal does not have any side effects.
  5. tetracycline ointment 1% is placed under the conjunctiva with sterile sticks, 3-5 times a day for a week. No adverse events were found.
  • Antibiotics are prescribed individually, if there is evidence of an infectious-inflammatory process in the eyes. For this purpose, suitable tetracycline drugs, penicillin, which is prescribed in strictly prescribed by the doctor dosages. At the initial stage of lacrimation in cats, antibiotics should not be used. Moreover, one should not “prescribe” antibiotics to a cat by oneself.
  • Drugs that act against allergies (antihistamines) are prescribed if the usual elimination of a potential allergen does not produce a result.

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So that the cat does not have watery eyes, you need to take care of all possible methods of prevention:

  1. The cat must eat well in order to have strong immunity.
  2. Regularly the cat should carry out prevention of helminthiasis and fleas.
  3. Animals should be vaccinated against especially dangerous infectious diseases.
  4. It is important to follow the standard hygienic rules: the cat should be bathed regularly, if necessary, cut, comb, treat the ears and wash the eyes.
  5. It is good if the owner periodically shows his pet to the veterinarian.

If there are some oddities in the behavior of the cat, or there are suspicious symptoms, then a visit to the vet should be mandatory.

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If a cat has watery eyes, but the owner of the animal promptly applies for help from a veterinarian, then in most cases you can be sure of a positive outcome of the disease. In the event of eyelid torsion, curvature or obstruction of the lacrimal canal, surgical intervention may be necessary - in such a situation, the prognosis depends on the qualifications of the operating doctor, as well as on the initial state of health and immunity of the animal.

trusted-source[38], [39], [40]

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