Weepy eyes in cats

black cat on white background

Overview

Tears protect the eye, if you notice your cat has weepy eye(s) it is usually because something is wrong.

A little bit of crusting in the corner of the eyes is normal but if you notice more than usual it could be a sign of a problem.

Weepy eyes can be caused by minor things such as being out in the wind, to more serious problems such as scratches on the surface of the eye or increased pressure in the eye.

Never ignore weepy eyes. Always contact your vet if you notice a problem – eyes are too precious to leave to chance.

What should I look out for?

A little bit of crusting in the corner of the eyes is normal but if you notice any of the symptoms below it could be a sign of a problem.

  • More crusting than usual or crusting around the whole eye
  • Watery discharge
  • Thick white, green or yellow discharge
  • Closed or partially closed eye
  • Face rubbing
  • Red or pink, blood shot eye
  • Cloudy eye.
Photo of a cat with watery eyes

Watery discharge could be a sign of a problem

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet straight away if you notice a weepy eye. Many eye problems will get worse if they aren’t treated quickly and in the worst case scenario this could result in loss vision.

You know your cat best. If you are concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.

Causes of weepy eyes

Many conditions can cause weepy eyes including:

Cat flu

Cat flu is an infectious disease caused by both viruses and bacteria. It is a very common cause of weepy eyes in cats.

Breed-related

Flat-faced breeds of cat (such as Persians) are more prone to weepy eyes because they aren’t very well protected from the environment.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is irritation of the pink (inside) part of the eyelid that can be caused by many different conditions. Conjunctivitis causes weeping, itching and pain around the eye.

Eye ulcer (corneal ulcer)

Eye ulcers are injuries, i.e. scratches or grazes on the front of the eye. Eye ulcers can become very serious if not treated quickly.

Lumps around the eyes

Lumps in or around the eye often cause weeping because they rub and cause irritation.

Something stuck in the eye

Something stuck in the eye (i.e. a grass seed or another cat’s claw!)

Itchy skin

Itchy skin often affects the skin around the eyes. If their skin becomes inflamed this will often cause weeping.

Eyelash problems

Eyelash problems such as eyelashes growing from the wrong place or in the wrong direction.

Eyelid problems

Eyelid problems such as eyelids turning in (entropian) or baggy eyelids (ectropian).

Tear staining in flat faced breeds

Tear staining (brown or red staining running from the eyes down the face) is a common problem in flat faced breeds such as Persians. It’s not always possible to get rid of tear staining completely but listed below are some tips on how to reduce it:

Keep your cat well-groomed

Brush the fur on your cat’s face regularly to stop dirt from building up.

Wipe their eyes

Wipe your cat’s eyes to remove any tears or crusted on ‘sleep’ that have built up through the day. 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: October 2018

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

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst