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Weepy eyes in cats

black cat on white background

Overview

  • 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.

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

PetWise Pet Health Hub – brought to you thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery 

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

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst