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Everything you need to know about cats eye watering

By Ashley Murphy Content Writer

Updated on the

Watery eyes are a common problem for cats, especially for kittens. It’s usually nothing to worry about. But just to put your mind at ease, here’s the info on a cats eyes watering.

Cats eyes need a certain amount of moisture. In fact, it plays a major role in maintaining good eye health. Known as the tear film, this layer of moisture washes away any dirt or debris, as well as providing the eye with many of its essential nutrients.

The fluid in the eye also has antibacterial qualities which fight off diseases and infections. If your cat's eyes appear particularly watery, then they may be in the process of washing out some unwanted bacteria. In the majority of cases, your cat's eyes will settle down within a few days. 

I can see some eye discharge. Do this mean my cat has an eye infection?

If the fluid coming from the eye is thicker and has a "greenish" or yellow colour, it’s a pretty clear sign that your cat has picked up a viral infection or a bacterial infection.

The most common eye infection is conjunctivitis. Also known as pinkeye, conjunctivitis causes a reddening and swelling, eye irritatiion, excesssive tearing, and a large amount of eye discharge. Because of the build of pus, your cat's eyes might become “glued” together, especially if they've just had a nice long snooze. Just wipe away the gunk with a warm, wet tissue. 

Conjunctivitis is a common eye problem be caused by bacteria or foreign objects stuck in the eye. Some cats can be allegic to dust and so this can also conjuctivitis. It's highly contagious, so keep the poor kitty away from any other household pets. Most cases of conjunctivitis will clear up after a few days. However, if there's no improvement, take that feline to your local vet.

How to treat a cat with teary  eyes

Eye infections are usually treated with anti-bacterial drops. Unfortunately, your cat doesn't know that these will make them better, and so they're not the most compliant little patients. Dr Ari Zabell is a veterinarian and cat lover.  Here's some of his advice:
"some general rules include working in a calm and quiet area where your cat is less likely to be stressed or distracted; administering medication to your pet on a table instead of the floor; and rewarding your cats before, during and after the treatment, so they have positive associations with medication and won’t be quite as likely to hide under your bed before the next treatment.”

My cat still has watery eyes. Are they allergic to something? 

Maybe. Allergies are a common cause of watery eyes, especially after you've eliminated a few of the other causes. Things your cat might be allergic to include: 

  • Pollen
  • Mould
  • Mildew
  • Dust
  • Medicine
  • Flea-control products
  • Perfumes
  • Cleaning products

This list is not exhaustive, so it can be quite difficult to identify the irritant. Speak to a specialist. They can give you some advice on how to manage your cat's environment, reducing the chances of any bad reactions.

Do some cats just have watery eyes?

Certain breeds of cat are genetically predisposed to watery eyes. This applies to cats with flat faces and round skulls, including exotic shorthairs, Himalayans, and Persian cats. These Brachycephalic (or short-headed) cats tend to have protruding eyes. Because their eyes get less protection, they're more likely to become infected. In cases like these, it's more about managing the watery eyes than curing them. But if the infections become increasingly worse, or far more frequent, speak to your vet about some treatment options, including vaccination.

Other signs to look out for

Watery eyes are relatively harmless, and most infections can be treated quickly and effectively. But there are still a few things you need to look out for. Does the watery eye look cloudy? Does the cat seem to be squinting out of the infected eye? If so, they may have an eye ulcer. These can be caused by an underlying infection, a scratch on the eye, head trauma, or exposure to chemicals or irritants. Whatever the cause, eye ulcers require immediate medical attention. If left untreated, your cat could lose its sight.

Most instances of watery eyes in cats are nothing to worry about.  Remember, moisture keeps the eyes clean and healthy by washing out unwanted bacteria. It also helps to fight off any infections. But if you do notice any discharge, or coloured pus, keep a close eye on your cat.  It will usually sort itself out after a few days. If not, it's time for a visit to the vet! But don't worry, a short course of antibiotics will see off that nasty infection.

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