Our furry Persian friends have adorable flat, pushed-in faces which, in some cases, can lead to issues with the drainage of their tears and tear staining. Persians are also prone to other hereditary eye conditions that can result in excess tearing and eye infections, which require veterinary care.
Persians are a brachycephalic breed, meaning that they have short, flat faces with large eyes. Their unusual facial structure predisposes them to chronic eye tearing and improper tear drainage, according to the Seattle Persian and Himalayan Rescue. If your Persian appears to be "crying" all the time, it could be due to a condition known as epiphora, which is common in this breed, according to the Merck Manual for Pet Health. Epiphora occurs when the nasolacrimal duct, through which the tears of a kitty's eyes usually empty, doesn't work properly, preventing the tears from draining. With nowhere to go, these tears then overflow onto your poor kitty's face, leaving the beautiful long hair in that area wet and stained.
Persians are prone to a condition called entropion, in which the eyelids and eyelashes turn inward instead of outward, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Like epiphora, this is also due to the "squashed-in" structure of a Persian's face. Kitties with this condition experience constant irritation from the eyelashes scratching at the inside of their eyes. This irritation leads to excess tearing, inflammation of the eye and eventually bacterial infections. The constant lacerations of your poor kitty's eyes can also lead to permanent damage to the cornea.
While the excess tearing caused by either entropion or epiphora itself won't necessarily cause an infection, the constant moisture irritates the skin around the eyes. The wetness also makes the skin folds around your Persian's eyes a perfect breeding ground for icky bacteria, viruses and fungi. If you notice discolored discharge coming out of your Persian's eyes or they seem red and inflamed, it's time to see the vet. Your kitty's doctor can properly diagnose and treat whatever is the cause of his watery eyes.
Visiting the Vet
Regular eye exams are important for Persians because this breed can suffer from excess tearing, congenital defects of the eye, cataracts and a condition called progressive retinal atrophy. Your vet will examine your Persian's eyes for signs of an infection, irritation, blocked tear ducts, genetic abnormalities or any other underlying illness. She may need to flush your kitty's eyes with sterile saline solution to clear blocked tear ducts. In severe cases, your vet may even need to operate on the eyes or the tear ducts themselves. Surgery can fix some genetic eye issues, open up tear ducts or create new ways for the tears to drain. Your vet will prescribe eye drops or ointments to treat any infections that are present.
Keep your pretty Persian kitty's eyes clean of excess tears by using eye wipes, sold in pet supply stores, to keep them free of tears and the infections they can lead to. You can also use a slightly damp cotton ball one to two times daily to wipe the area around the eyes, removing any dried, crusty tears that have formed overnight. Keep the hair around the eyes trimmed to prevent damp fur and use a cotton swab to clean inside your Persian's facial skin folds.
- WebMD: Causes of Watery Eyes in Cats
- Vetstreet: Eye Discharge
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Conjunctivitis in Cats
- Cat Channel: Are Persians Susceptible to Eye Problems?
- Seattle Persian and Himalayan Rescue: So You Want A Persian?
- Orange County Register: Part 2: Feline Eye Disease Often Overlooked
- petMD: Eye Defects (Congenital) in Cats
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Eye Discharge or Epiphora in Cats
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Ocular Conditions
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.