Just about everyone gets those little eye boogies in the morning, even your cat. But sometimes those little crusty "scabs" are more than just the remnants of a good night's sleep. Reddish-brown eye crust typically indicates your cat is tearing more than usual, caused by a variety of reasons.
The crusty so-called scabs in the corner of your cat's eyes are the telltale sign of epiphora, which is the medical term for excessive tearing. A cat's tears aren't clear; they're a shade of reddish-brown. Under normal circumstances, your cat's tears help keep his eyes nice and moist with every blink, and excess fluid drains back into his tear ducts. Epiphora can occur from excessive tear production or blockage of the tear ducts, preventing the excess lubrication from draining properly.
Your cat is not likely to be suffering the effects of the latest tear-jerking movie you rented. His excessive tearing could be caused by eye irritation, or allergies triggered by his latest romp outside. Eye or sinus infections can increase tear production, as can injury. A tear duct injury or defect can prevent proper drainage, causing tears to overflow and gather along his nose or in the corner of his eye.
Realistically, not every instance of watery eyes or a little excess eye goop is cause for an emergency run to the vet. If you notice some scabbing on your cat's eyes, use a warm washcloth to gently wipe it away. Keep an eye on him and take note how quickly the scabs return, and how bad they are. If he seems fine in all other respects, try rinsing his eyes with some clean water to flush away anything that may be stuck in there and causing irritation. Keep tabs on his eating, litter box use and personality to watch for changes that may indicate illness or other underlying conditions.
When to See the Vet
If the so-called scabbing tapers off and goes away on its own after a few days, you may not have to worry. But if the crust keeps appearing no matter how often you wipe it away, for days or weeks at a time, call your vet. If his behavior changes or you notice other symptoms such as sneezing, diarrhea or a yellow gooey discharge, call your vet. This indicates a more serious health problem that requires antibiotics or ointments to correct.
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