Runny Eyes in Cats

Runny eyes in cats can occur due to various external factors or internal medical conditions. Runny eyes may be treated at home if the condition is not severe, or with oral medication and eye drops.

Causes of Runny Eyes

If your pet has runny eyes, there may be a number of underlying causes such as:

  • Allergies to pollens, dust mites, chemicals or foods
  • Eye infections
  • Conjunctivitis, or the swelling of the conjunctiva
  • Something that is trapped in the cat's eye (such as a bug or a splinter)

The cat's ocular discharge may be clear or more consistent, having various colors. The color and consistency of the discharge will depend on the cause of runny eyes. Transparent ocular discharges may be caused by allergies and conjunctivitis. If the discharge is yellow or green, the infectious agents may be bacteria or viruses. A pink, thick discharge is indicative of a fungal infection.

Additional Symptoms

The cat may display a number of additional symptoms which should be observed to get a clearer diagnosis of her condition. A cat with runny eyes may also have symptoms such as:

  • Itchy skin and rashes, caused by allergies
  • Red eyes, which may be caused by conjunctivitis
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive meowing
  • Pawing the face
  • Shaking the head

If these symptoms are present, the vet can suspect a certain health problem and establish what type of tests to perform.

Diagnosing Runny Eyes

The diagnosis will start with the analysis of the eye discharge. The results will show if the runny eyes are caused by an infection of viral, bacterial or fungal nature. If the vet suspects allergies, blood testing or intradermal testing will be performed to detect the allergen in the environment.  An examination from a specialist such as an ophthalmologist may be required. The vet may also identify if there are foreign bodies in the eyes. Blood tests and urine tests will only be performed if the vet suspects an internal problem causing the ocular discharge.

Treating Runny Eyes in Cats

The runny eyes can be treated and the cure will depend on the diagnosis. If there are foreign bodies in the cat's eyes, the vet will remove these using tweezers. However, if the foreign bodies are deeply embedded in the eye, the vet may need to perform surgery.

If the cat has conjunctivitis or an eye infection, saline eye drops may be recommended along with a cure of oral antibiotics.

Runny eyes due to allergies can be treated with antihistamines or corticosteroids. Steroidal eye drops may be recommended to reduce the swelling.

If the condition is not serious and the discharge is transparent, you may treat your pet at home. Soaked tea bags can be applied on the eyes to soothe the inflammation. Opt for chamomile or mint tea, which also have additional soothing effects.

While the cat has runny eyes, it's important to clean the eye area. Use a saline solution to do so.