A cat with runny eyes is quite common, especially when there are eye irritations, like dust, a bit like our image after all. Nevertheless, you must act directly in the event of a constant increase in tear flow and for no apparent reason which may hide a latent pathology.

There are several home remedies to fix this problem if no pathology is behind this problem. However, watery eyes in cats may be due to a medical condition that will require a visit to the vet for proper treatment.

If this problem is not treated, it can lead to temporary or even permanent vision loss and it is vital to act in time to avoid any risk. So, follow this article well, I tell you everything you need to know to solve this problem.

Cat with runny eyes: How to spot the problem?

A healthy cat has clear eyes and the fur around its eyes is clean and dry. Tear fluid, which is important for moistening the eyes, normally drains through the tear duct.

It is a small channel that is located between the eyes and the nose. If your cat’s eye begins to weep more and more, this primarily represents a natural protective eye reflex, as the tears are supposed to flush out any foreign bodies present in the eye. Each eye must also be kept moist to better protect it from irritation and avoid dry eyes.

Another usefulness of tears is to serve as a means of transport with which inflammatory cells can be transported more quickly to the irritated or diseased area of ​​the eye. There they can act against pathogens such as viruses or bacteria, allowing natural healing.

The signs of the problem

There are many signs of watery eyes problems in cats. Here are the main ones:

  • Increased tear flow: This symptom is often recognizable by tear marks on the coat or sticky fur on the eyes. Tear fluid can be clear, viscous, or bloody, among other things.

  • Sticky eyes: In some cases, the flow of tears is so increased that the eyes are very sticky, your cat may have trouble constantly opening them.

  • Swollen eyes: Swollen eyes are indicative of a problem, often related to water retention.

  • Increased blinking: A constant blinking reveals discomfort in the eyes, it can be an allergy or a dry eye problem such as inflammation.

  • Redness of the eyes: Here, the spectrum of causes is wide, ranging from small harmless problems to serious pathologies.

  • Watery squinting: Eye pain can lead to hypersensitivity of the eyes due to light.

  • Itching: This can be seen in your cat’s behavior. Many animals often rub their eyes with their paws to try to get rid of the discomfort, often from outside the eye.

The color and consistency of a cat’s tear fluid can vary widely:

  • Clear and watery: It is often found in allergies, drafts, blocked tear ducts or certain corneal diseases.

  • Biliary to purulent type: this consistency of tears often occurs when there is conjunctivitis. Infection with fungi, viruses or bacteria is possible.

  • Bleeding eyes: Bloody tearing often occurs with wounds. However, in some cases the tears only appear red and bloody but are not actually blood. This can be the case with light colored cats. In these cases, the tears mix with the dust and appear reddish on the light fur.

  • Brown discharge : In some cats, this flow of tears is already disturbed by the shape of the face. For example, in flat-faced cats, as in many Persians, the stream of tears becomes noticeable through a brown liquid flowing from the nose. In these cases, it is usually enough to gently dab the liquid.

Causes of runny eyes in cats and their solutions

The causes of feline eye discharge are very varied, here are the main causes that can cause your cat to cry.

  • Inflammation of the inside of the eye or cornea: Usually bacteria is the cause of this problem. A visit to the veterinarian will be essential because he is the only one authorized to provide appropriate treatment.

  • Allergies: Your cat may have an allergy, the most likely is pollen for runny eyes but it could be other types of allergies such as food related if you have introduced a new food . Here too, I advise you to go to the veterinarian for an appropriate treatment and to be sure that you have found the right allergy.

  • External irritations: These are triggered, for example, by small hairs, eyelashes or other foreign bodies such as dust that can get stuck in the eye. Try cleaning the eye with cat saline, be warned, your cat won’t like it.

  • Thermal Irritation: Dry, hot, but also cold air can cause eye irritation. Try to keep it in a sufficiently humid environment. In summer you can leave the bathroom door open and in winter, provide him with a sufficiently warm corner, you can for example put his basket near the radiator.

  • Chemical irritation: mainly triggered by gases, drugs, lye or acids. Your cat must at all costs be kept away from toxic products such as household products for example. Some plants can also be poisonous .

  • Infections: These can be caused by different triggers, such as viruses, fungi or bacteria in the eyes. Only the veterinarian can act correctly and it is necessary to visit him as soon as possible to avoid aggravation of the problem.

  • Injuries: Often from scratching their eyes or injuries from cat fights. Avoid touching it, only the veterinarian is qualified to solve the problem, trying it yourself can make it worse.

  • Eyelid edge abnormalities: These may be the edges of the eyelids that are rolled outward or inward. This can cause corneal irritation and, in addition to increased tearing, redness and inflammation can occur. Also, a visit to the veterinarian is essential.
  • Illnesses: These include, for example, glaucoma, cat flu, a cold or leucosis. Except in the case of a cold, a medical visit will solve the problem.
  • Impaired drainage of tear fluid: This can be triggered, for example, by a blockage of the tear duct. Get to the vet as soon as possible.

When to go to the vet?

If a disease is causing watery eyes in a cat, the veterinarian should make a diagnosis and from there establish a treatment to resolve the problem.

If your cat’s eyes are watery, don’t hesitate too long before going to the vet. In particular, if you see any other symptoms such as fever, sneezing, sore throat or runny nose then you should discuss this with the veterinarian immediately. The same applies if the tear fluid is not clear, but rather bloody, bilious or viscous or if treatment with home remedies does not bring relief after a few days.

To ensure an optimal diagnosis, you can also contact a veterinarian with the additional qualification “ophthalmology”. These veterinarians have special knowledge and are usually equipped with special devices that allow the most accurate ocular diagnosis possible.

What will the vet do?

A veterinarian can identify eye diseases in several ways. In particular, veterinarians with the additional field of ophthalmology are equipped with specialized knowledge and equipment.

Biomicroscopes or slit lamps, for example, are used for this purpose. But also different ultrasonic or tonopen devices, with which the internal eye pressure can be measured, can be used for the diagnosis depending on the symptoms present.

Samples or smears may also be taken to find out the cause. Swabs are used, for example, if an infection with viruses, bacteria or fungi is suspected. Another means of ocular diagnosis is the Schirmer tear test.

With this test, tear production can be better assessed to determine if tear production is too high or too low.

Home treatments to cure it or while waiting for the visit to the veterinarian

While waiting for the intervention of the veterinarian, here is what you can do:

Put him saline

Watery eyes should first be cleaned regularly and treated with eye drops (the saline solution for cats I told you about) which you can find in pharmacies), wiping off the excess well.

This will help maintain good eye hygiene and a sufficient level of humidity.

Clean his eyes with tea

Pour hot water over the tea as usual and let it steep for a few minutes.

In order for even very small particles to be released from the tea, you then need to strain it through a coffee filter. Otherwise, the finer particles could get into the eyes during use and cause further irritation.

Let the tea cool until lukewarm.

Then, a cloth (it should be soft, lint-free and clean) is dipped in the lukewarm tea.

With this cloth you can carefully remove tear fluid from your cat’s eyes.


In addition, there is also the possibility of using homeopathic remedies in the form of drops. This can be, for example, eyebright which is supposed to relieve inflammation and visual fatigue.

Ensure healthy air

Cats need healthy air, make it necessary for them to live in the healthiest environment possible, here are some tips to achieve this:

  • Put him in an environment at room temperature , and make him avoid the cold that cats hate, having a higher body temperature than us.
  • Avoid contact with products that are toxic to him , mainly household products.
  • Remove the dust present to prevent it from coming into contact with his eyes.

Special cases

A cat can get runny eyes in different ways, here are the answers to the main types of cat eye discharge:

Cat with brown runny eyes

There is probably a problem with the tear duct. I dedicated a post to this problem, you can consult it to have all the details and to deal with the problem as well as possible. What you can do while waiting for the vet is to provide him with the best possible eye hygiene to make his life easier.

Cat with runny eyes and sneezing

His upper airways may be affected and it could be a viral infection that will likely be treated with antibiotics by your vet.

Cat with transparent runny eyes

It’s about the color of the tears, so it’s completely normal but should be worrying if they’re constant or regular. Try to see if he has something stuck in his eyes or other symptoms along with it.

Cat with swollen, runny eyes

Your cat has a problem with eye discharge, which can lead to a tear sac infection. Eventually, this can spread and medical treatment must therefore be provided to prevent aggravation and to be able to solve the problem in time.

Cat with red runny eyes

Inflammation of the tissues is usually responsible for this type of problem. Often coryza hides behind this pathology.

Old cat with runny eyes

Older cats are getting weaker and any problems should lead to a visit to the vet. It is therefore essential to solve the problem in time to avoid aggravation of symptoms.

Cat with yellow runny eyes

The surface of the cornea is probably infected.

Cat with runny eyes: The final word

The first thing to do is try to pinpoint the possible cause to see if something external is responsible and if nothing can be seen then there is probably some underlying pathology that needs to be addressed by a professional.