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Dealing with Eye Injuries and Watery Eyes in Cats

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Diagnosing Common Eye Problems and Injuries in Cats

Does your cat constantly have watery eyes, or has he recently sustained an eye injury that is affecting his vision? From a spat with another feline, an encounter with a thorny branch, or a run-in with the sliding glass door—injuries to cat's eyes can happen just about anywhere.

One of the most common causes of watery eyes in cat is low-grade viral infections. Typically, this condition is self-limiting and resolves as the virus runs its course, but if the signs persist or worsen, your veterinarian may need to intervene.

Some cats have allergies, which cause them to have itchy, watery eyes, just like people. Cats are so susceptible to eye irritants, in fact, that they have a third eyelid to help protect their eyes from common debris.

Still, not everything that may cause harm to your cat's eyes is preventable. If your cat recently sustains an eye injury, take him to your veterinarian right away. After all, you don't want your furry friend to risk losing his vision or to sustain permanent damage.

How Do I Know If My Cat Has an Eye Injury?

If your cat has a minor eye injury, he probably will be showing some of the following symptoms:

  • Increased blinking, squinting, or tearing
  • Keeping the eye closed
  • Redness in the eye
  • Minor bleeding
  • Yellowy discharge

On the other hand, if your cat has a major injury, you'll know from these symptoms:

  • Major bleeding
  • A foreign object is seen protruding from eye
  • Distorted pupil
  • Cloudy cornea
  • Eye is protruding
  • Cat is in severe pain

If your cat is showing any of the symptoms from either list, remain calm. Our pets feed off our energy, and it is crucial for you to remain confident and in charge of the situation to prevent your cat from getting more upset.

What to Do If Your Cat Has an Eye Injury

First, put an Elizabethan collar on him if you have one; you don't want the cat to harm itself further. If you don't have one nearby, keep your cat as contained as possible so he doesn't do more damage to his eye.

Then, get him to your veterinarian! Eye injuries are a threat to the vision of any animal, and the sooner you get medical attention, the better.

If the symptoms are minor, like increased pawing at the eye, and your cat is calm, you may try to examine him eye yourself. A light flush with eye saline solution can remove debris. Do not try to remove any object with tweezers or your fingers, as this may cause more damage to the eye.

What If Your Cat Has Watery Eyes?

Watery eyes in cats may be caused by several different ailments.

Pink Eye—If your cat is a short-faced breed or has inflamed tissue around the watery eye, he probably has conjunctivitis, or pink eye. This can be cleared up with medication and is not a major concern.

Eye Infection—If your cat's watery eyes are coupled with sticky discharge, he may have some type of infection and should see your veterinarian.

Allergies—Watery eyes also may be caused by allergies. Cats can be allergic to the same things as people, including:

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Mold or mildew
  • Medicine

A visit to your veterinarian can determine whether your cat is suffering from allergies and how to proceed with treatment.

What to Do When Your Cat's Watery Eyes Are Persistent

If you have waited it out and your cat's tears continue, head to your veterinarian. Constant tears that are not due to a new environment or visible infection can be an indicator of major health concerns.

About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.