A moist protective layer surrounds the outside of your cat's eyes which helps to wash away dirt and debris that lands on the eye. That said, if your cat's eyes begin to water excessively it could be an early sign that there is an issue. Today our Charlotte vets explain some of the reasons why cats' eyes water.
Why are my cat's eyes watering?
Watery eyes are an indication that the eye is trying to fight off some form of health threat such as a virus or a foreign body. In many cases the cause of watery eyes in cats is minor and will clear up without veterinary care. Nonetheless, there are a host of more serious reasons why your cat's eyes could be watering. To pinpoint the cause of your cat's eye issue it's necessary to look for other symptoms.
What are the symptoms of eye problems in cats?
Red and Inflamed Eyes
- If your cat has a red and inflamed eye there is a good chance that your feline friend has a condition called conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pinkeye. Other signs that your cat might have conjunctivitis include swollen eyes and increased sensitivity to light. Conjunctivitis is fairly common in cats, and can be caused by anything from an infection or allergy to feline herpes virus. With treatment conjunctivitis can be easy to clear up, but left untreated it could lead to more serious complications. Which is why it's always best to take your cat in to see the vet for an eye examination if they are suffering from red and watery eyes. After a thorough examination your vet may prescribe eye drops or eye ointment to help sooth your cat's eyes and fight infection.
Obvious Pain or Swelling
- If your cat is displaying obvious signs of pain, the eyeball is bulging or there is notable swelling around your cat's eye, your cat may be suffering from a painful condition called glaucoma. If your cat is displaying symptoms of glaucoma it's time for an emergency trip to the vet! This painful condition can appear suddenly and develop very quickly. In most cases, by the time symptoms become evident much of the cat's eyesight will be permanently lost.
Blinking, Squinting and Pawing at Eyes
- If your cat seems to be blinking excessively, squinting or pawing at their watery eyes a visit to your vet is definitely required. Your cat could have a foreign body trapped and irritating the eye, or a blocked tear duct. Although tear duct obstructions aren't as common in cats as they are in dogs they can result in tears overflowing and running out of your cat's eye.
Water and Glassy Looking Eyes
- Allergies are a common cause of watery, irritated eyes in cats. Some of the most common allergens affecting cat's eyes include pollen, mold and mildew dust, household cleaning products, perfumes, and some medications. Simply keeping your cat away from the allergen (if possible) could help to clear up the issue. However, if you are unable to pinpoint what is causing your cat's watery eyes a trip to the vet is in order. Your vet will be able to rule out more serious causes for your cat's watery eyes and be able to recommend ways to help soothe your cat's uncomfortable eyes.
Sticky, Yellow or Green Discharge
- Goopy or sticky discharge coming from your cat's eyes is generally a sign of infection. Clear discharge often indicates a viral infection, whereas green or yellow discharge suggests that your cat has a bacterial infection. Eye infections in cats should always be taken seriously. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to avoid more severe complications from developing. If your cat is suffering from a bacterial eye infection treatment may include ophthalmic antibiotic drops, gels or ointments. In most cases oral medications are unnecessary unless your cat's eye problem is as a result of a systemic infection.
Nasal Discharge and Sneezing
- Cats displaying typical human cold symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose, are likely to be suffering from a cat cold or feline upper respiratory infection. Many cat colds will clear up within a week without the need for veterinary care, however, if your cat's symptoms become worse or fail to improve within a couple of days make an appointment to see your vet.
When should I take my cat to the vet for an eye exam?
If your cat is displaying signs of pain, infection or if their eyes continue to water for more than a day or two it's time to head to the vet. Your vet will be able to examine your cat's eyes and recommend appropriate treatments to help relieve any discomfort your cat may be experiencing.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Although we do not provide ophthalmology services, we will happily refer you to a certified specialist.