Weepy eyes in cats


  • Weepy eyes indicate that something is wrong.
  • A small amount of crusting in the corner of the eyes is normal, but continual weeping or a sticky discharge is not.
  • Don't ignore weepy eyes, always contact your vet as soon as you notice a change or a problem – eyes are too precious to leave.

General information and causes

A small amount of crusting in the corner of your cat's eyes is normal, but a constant weeping or a sticky discharge, is not. Some common causes of weepy eyes include:

  • Eye infections
  • Cat flu
  • Eye injuries such as corneal ulcers, a scratch, a blow to the face
  • Something stuck in the eye such as a grass seed
  • Eye and eyelid lumps
  • Itchy skin
  • Blocked tear ducts - cause tears to spill down the face
  • Eyelash problems
  • Eyelid problems
  • Breed related - flat-faced breeds such as Persians tend to have weepy eyes and tear staining due to the shape of their face.
Photo of a cat with crusty eyes

The crust around this cat's eyes is abnormal

Other symptoms

Look out for, and tell your vet about any other symptoms you have noticed, such as:

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet as soon as you notice a problem with your cat’s eyes - eyes are precious and the problem could get worse if they aren’t treated quickly.

If your cat has had weepy eyes for a while, contact your vet for an appointment to have them checked. Even if the problem has been going on for a while, there is a chance that they could have a treatable condition.

Consider taking out cat insurance as soon as you bring your cat home, before any signs of illness start. This will give you peace of mind that you have some financial support if they ever become unwell.

Tear staining in flat faced breeds

Tear stained fur is a common problem in flat faced breeds such as Persians. As well as being born with flat-faces, these breeds often have large eyeballs in small eye sockets, meaning their tears can’t drain away properly. If your cat has tear staining due to the shape of his/her face, there are a couple of things you can do to help keep them more comfortable:

  • Keep them well-groomed. Brush the fur on your cat’s face regularly to keep their fur away from their eyes and prevent tears building up.
  • Wipe their eyes. Wipe your cat’s eyes twice daily to remove any tears and crusty discharge. Cotton wool pads dipped in lukewarm water are perfect for this. Never use a wipe that isn’t meant for use on a cat’s eyes.
Photo of a flat-faced cat having its eyes wiped.

You may need to wipe your cat's eyes to keep them clear.

Published: June 2020

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.