Weepy eyes in cats
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.
Look out for, and tell your vet about any other symptoms you have noticed, such as:
- Pain (holding their eyes closed/squinting/rubbing)
- Redness or swelling
- Coughing, sneezing or any other symptoms
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.
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.
Published: June 2020
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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.
Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst