5 Common Causes of Watery Eyes in Cats and Cures

“I take care of my flowers and my cats. And enjoy food. And that’s living.” -Quote by Ursula Andress

As a cat lover, one of the best moments of my life was coming home to find my cat playing on the lawn. It was a long day at the office, and like most people, the busy schedule of life made me forget life. I found my cat trying to catch an orange colored butterfly that appeared to be toying with him as well. Watching that scene made me feel content for a time.

It was a beautiful sunny day that the air was clean, and my beautiful green-eyed feline friend was playing outside. He was lying there on his back, with his front paws stretched out to grab the butterfly. His snow-white fur with a patch of grey made him stand out. I called to him as if It was unusual to see him so one with nature, “Rooney?” On hearing his name, he stopped for a moment and scurried towards me, meowing. He raised his mid-body against my leg, caressing me with his furry coat and purring. In response to this affection, I bent down to stroke his furry coat. It was one of the many beautiful moments that stayed with me.

Watery eyes in cats


Pet owners/lovers are no strangers to such memories. We grow attached to our pets. We grow accustomed to their games. They simply become part of the family. Therefore, when we notice strange behaviors, like maybe they are less playful, eating less, or have watery eyes, we automatically become concerned. Just like humans, cats can get eye irritation. Their eyes can get watery when they have a cough (yes, cats get coughs). Also, there are other serious conditions that can trigger this issue.

Cat eye problems are relatively uncommon as compared to dogs. However, when they occur, they can lead to devastating consequences such as blindness. Early diagnosis is highly recommended to prevent any serious conditions from progressing. There are five common conditions that trigger “cat runny eyes.” These conditions include:

Conjunctivitis (pink eye):

This condition involves the irritation or inflammation of the conjunctiva; the outer layer that protects the eye. Conjunctivitis in cats can be caused by a foreign particle getting trapped in the eye. Other causal factors include allergies, bacterial infection, for instance, Feline chlamydophila, cat Mycoplasma, or upper respiratory infections.

Also, viruses such as feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) can trigger cat pink eye. The condition is commonly termed as pink eye because of the reddish-like appearance observed in a feline with the condition. The eyes become quite reddened, swollen, and watery. Conjunctivitis is painful and you may observe them trying to rub their eyes.

Other signs of conjunctivitis you may notice include excessive squinting, and excessive blinking. The cornea may appear clear cloudy especially if there are other complications such as an ulcer, or a scar tissue. The eyes may be watery or have a mucous discharge. This discharge may be grey, yellow, clear, or a dry blood appearance.

Conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye infections observed in cats. It is much more common in kittens compared to older ones. Pure breeds are also susceptible to the condition. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from conjunctivitis, then it is advisable to visit a veterinarian. Treatment for the condition varies depending on the causal factor. For instance, if it is a viral infection, your vet may prescribe topical or anti-viral medication. Prompt diagnosis of the condition is the safest way to protect your cat’s vision.

Upper respiratory infections

Cats are susceptible to common colds. The causal factors include viral infections, for instance, feline calicivirus which is contagious. Bacterial infections from bacteria’s such as Bordetella bronchiseptica (B. bronchiseptica) can also lead to upper respiratory infections in felines. The common cold is contagious. A healthy cat that comes in contact with a sick one can get the condition.

Symptoms of the common cold vary depending on severity, with the feline exhibiting discharge from the nose and the eyes. Aside from watery eyes, other symptoms include sneezing, lethargy, gagging or drooling, fever, squinting and eye rubbing.

If you suspect it has a common cold, a veterinarian check-up is in order. A brief diagnosis will help determine if your pet requires medication. It is also important to note that once infected, cats can become carriers throughout their lives, even if they do not show any clinical signs.

Cat teary eyes-epiphora

The term epiphora refers to tear overflow. This condition can affect one eye or both. There are a variety of factors that can cause Epiphora. These factors include blocked lacrimal/tear ducts, conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, allergies, amongst others. The common clinical signs are dampness or wetness beneath the eyes, skin irritation, odor, and of course tears rolling down the feline’s face. Treatment of the condition varies from surgical procedures to medication, depending on the causal factor.

Allergic reactions

Similar to people, cats can have allergies to pollen, fabrics, perfumes, cleaning products, mold/mildew, amongst other products. Felines with allergy respond differently, with some portraying severe reactions such as nasal congestion leading to difficulty in breathing, asthma, hay fever. Some may experience swollen, itchy, watery cats eyes when exposed to allergens. A complete examination by the veterinarian can help determine if the watery eyes are due to an allergic reaction.

Corneal ulceration

Corneal ulceration in cats occurs due to a trauma or damage to the cornea. This can occur in various ways, for instance, the cornea may get damaged when the cat rubs its eyes against a rough surface. Also, exposure of the eye to sharp objects or lacerations can lead to the condition. Chemical damage is another common culprit. Exposure to harsh ingredients in shampoos, or other products can lead to corneal ulceration. Bacterial or viral infections can also lead to the condition.

Corneal ulceration is painful. You may notice your cat trying to rub their eyes. They may squint, blink frequently, or keep their eyes closed often. Corneal ulceration resembles corneal abrasion. Treatment can involve medication, including eye drops. The feline may end up getting a surgical procedure to protect the injury.

Other possible causes

Watery eyes can also be the body’s attempt to flush out a foreign object. Particles such as specks of dirt, grass or other substances can get into the eyes leading to excessive tears production. In this case, you can try to remove the substance by flushing the irritated eye with a saline solution. Alternatively, if it is a serious case, you can place an e-collar on your pet and rush your feline to the vet for a check-up. Do not attempt to remove the object using your fingers, tweezers, or any other object.

Watery eyes in cats can be as a result of a minor issue or an indication of a serious medical condition. If the cause is minor, then the watering issue will clear up on its own. However, if you observe any of the stated signs in the conditions mentioned, then you need to get your pet to a veterinary for a check-up. The earlier the diagnosis the better the chance for proper healing.