Teary Eyes in Cats

A healthy pair of cat eyes won't have any discharge.
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Cats don't shed tears of joy, pain or anger, so when your cat's eyes get watery it means there's a problem. Figuring out why they're watering is the first step in figuring out the right treatment.

Blocked Tear Ducts

Sometimes genetic, sometimes a result of certain facial shapes and sometimes just because of allergies or previous discharge, blocked tear ducts keep your kitty's eye from draining the way it should. Certain breeds, especially those with flat faces like Persians, Scottish folds and British longhair and shorthair. Tears will be clear and your cat will probably have tear stains on the inner corner of her eyes. If the blockage isn't too bad, it can be handled just with regular cleaning. On the other hand, if kitty's eyes are constantly teary and it causes irritation, surgery can open up the ducts.


As beautiful as it looks, long hair can give your cat problems around his eyes. Untrimmed hair can get matted around the edge of the eyes and cause tearing, or the hair can get into the eyes themselves. If hair is irritating your cat's eyes and causing them to produce extra tears, ask a groomer or your veterinarian to trim away the offending hair.


Usually an eye infection will be obvious, with white or yellow discharge and matted fur around your cat's eyes. Sometimes in early stages, the infection will show up as teary eyes. If your cat doesn't normally have watery eyes and they suddenly become very moist, keep a close eye on her to make sure it isn't an infection. Goopy eyes or eyelids that stick together will need treatment.

Corneal Ulceration

Corneal ulceration is a fancy name for a scratch on the surface of your cat's eye. A lot of times this is caused by another cat playing too hard and accidentally scratching an eyeball, but it can come from almost anywhere, such as crawling through bushes, climbing trees, playing in papers or even scratching his ears. Tearing will usually only be in the eye that is injured. Take your cat to the veterinarian for treatment.


Unlike a corneal ulcer, which is a wound, keratitis is the inflammation or swelling of the cornea. In cats it is often caused by the herpes virus, but it can also be the result of fungus, bacteria, allergies or dry eyes. Your kitty might be affected in one eye or in both. Your veterinarian can help determine the cause and provide treatment.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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