The moist outer layer on your cat's eye protects the eye by washing away dirt and debris. But if your kitty's eyes have started to tear or water excessively, or if your feline friend is squinting, it could be an early sign that there is a more serious issue. Here our Berkeley vets explain a few reasons why cat's eyes water.
Reasons Why Your Cat's Eyes Might Water
If your cat has watery eyes it likely means that the eye is attempting to fight off some form of health threat such as a virus or a foreign body. In many cases, the cause is minor and will clear up without veterinary care. That said, there are a host of more serious reasons that your cat's eyes could be watering. To find the cause of your cat's eye issue it's necessary to look for other symptoms.
Symptoms of Eye Issues in Cats
Water and Glassy Looking Eyes
Allergies are a surprisingly common issue for cats and can certainly lead a cat's eyes to become irritated and watery. Common allergies that could affect your cat's eyes include pollen, mold and mildew dust, household cleaning products, perfumes, and some medications. Keeping your cat away from the allergen 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 make your cat's eyes feel more comfortable.
Blinking, Squinting & Pawing at Eyes
If your cat has watery eyes and is blinking excessively, squinting or pawing at their eyes a visit to your vet is required. Your cat could have a foreign body trapped and irritating the eye, or a blocked nasolacrimal duct (tear duct). Although nasolacrimal obstructions aren't as common in cats as they are in dogs they can result in tears overflowing and running out of the eye.
Red and Inflamed Eyes
If your cat's eyes appear red and inflamed there is a good chance that your feline friend has conjunctivitis (otherwise known as pinkeye). Other signs that your cat might have conjunctivitis include swollen eyes and increased sensitivity to light. This common eye condition in cats can be caused by anything from an infection or allergy to feline herpes virus, and while conjunctivitis can be easy to clear up, without treatment it could lead to more serious complications. For that reason, it is always best to see your vet if your cat's eyes have become red and watery. Depending on the severity of your cat's eye irritation treatment may include eye drops or ointment prescribed by your vet.
Sticky, Yellow or Green Discharge
As with people, a goopy or sticky discharge coming from your cat's eyes is typically a sign of infection. A clear discharge often indicates a viral infection whereas green or yellow discharge suggests that your cat has a bacterial infection. When dealing with eye infections early diagnosis and treatment can help to avoid more serious complications down the road. If your cat has 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.
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 it's time to get your cat to the vet to check for glaucoma. Symptoms of glaucoma in cats indicate that emergency veterinary care is required. This painful condition can appear suddenly and develop very rapidly. In most cases, by the time symptoms become evident much of the cat's eyesight will be irreparably lost.
Nasal Discharge and Sneezing
If your cat is displaying typical human cold symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose, your feline friend is likely 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 To Take Your Cat to the Vet for an Eye Examination
If your cat's eyes are watering for more than a day or two, or if your cat is showing signs of pain or symptoms of infection, 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. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.