Your cat’s eyes are usually beautiful, sparkling, and clear. However, there are moments when your feline friend’s eyes may not be so clear. Eye gunk, or discharge, is a common ailment that often is no cause for alarm. But when, exactly, can eye goo become a serious problem?
Let’s take a look at what causes eye discharge, what health problems eye discharge can mean, and how to treat your furbaby when their eyes are bothering them significantly.
Causes of Eye Discharge
There are several different causes for eye discharge in felines.
Epiohora. Also known as watery eyes, this type of clear watery discharge is the result of excessive tear production. This can be caused by anything from allergies to blocked tear ducts to allergies.
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Also known as dry eyes, this type of eye condition can result in inflamed corneas and redness in the whites of the eyes. Because tears aren’t being produced properly, the discharge can appear yellow and goopy. If left untreated, this disease can cause blindness.
Uveitis. This condition is an inflammation of the inner parts of the eye. This can be caused by trauma, such as a scratch or animal attack, or something more serious such as cancer or immune system deficiencies.
Upper respiratory infections. This is a common cause of eye problems in cats. Viruses and bacteria can cause this type of infection. Eye discharge often includes both eyes and appear white, yellow or green with a sticky consistency.
Conjunctivitis. Commonly known as pink eye, this condition can cause inflammation around the eyelids and cause your cat’s eyes to appear puffy and pink. Much of the time, pink eye can make your cat light sensitive and result in clear or thick mucus-like eye discharge. One or both eyes can be affected. Conjunctivitis often clears up on its own, but keep your eyes open for more serious symptoms. Fever, watery stool, and breathing problems may be the result of feline infectious peritonitis, which can be deadly. However, this condition is not common.
Corneal diseases. The cornea is a half-moon shaped part of the eye that protrudes from the front of the eye. Sometimes it can become inflamed or injured as a result of scratching. The symptoms of corneal diseases or injuries include cloudiness in appearance, inflammation, constant blinking, and thin watery discharge.
Allergies. Allergies can definitely be a major cause of eye discharge in cats, especially if your cat already has allergy problems that result in sneezing and itchiness.
Many of these causes of eye discharge are relatively benign, but some of them can be serious problems. Let’s look at when you should worry about feline eye discharge.
When to Worry About Cat Eye Discharge and Make a Vet Appointment
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, uveitis, advanced conjunctivitis, or corneal diseases and injuries are all dangerous problems that should warrant a vet visit as soon as possible.
If your cat is exhibiting any of these diseases’ accompanying symptoms, or if your cat’s eye problems have not cleared up within three or four days, contact your vet right away.
Your vet will treat your cat’s eye discharge problems easily. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eyes, can be treated by using ophthalmic medicine to stimulate tear production and are extremely safe to use. Most cats recover fully after being treated for dry eye. For uveitis, your doctor will run a number of tests to determine if the underlying cause is immune system or cancer related. For advanced or serious conjunctivitis, your vet will likely prescribe an intensive but short-term antibiotic which can be taken orally or through an eye dropper. Corneal diseases or injuries are usually treated through the use of antibiotic ointments or drops or surgery. The appropriate treatment depends on the nature of the injury and how intense the injury or disease is.
How to Treat Cat Eye Discharge at Home
Epiphora can be treated by flushing the eyes with water. See our tips and tricks below for instructions. However, if the problem persists for longer than a few days, the underlying cause could be more serious than light debris or a minor injury. Larger foreign objects or deep scratches can lead to more dangerous problems. Be sure to visit your vet if flushing with water does not work.
Conjunctivitis usually does not require treatment and will clear up on its own. Keep up with gently wiping discharge from your cat’s eyes daily and do not let them outside until the puffiness and discharge have cleared up.
Allergies can be treated by eliminating the source, such as dust mites, dusty air, cigarette smoke, and other allergens. You can use an antihistamine such as Benadryl to treat your cat’s symptoms, but this is not often recommended as it can be difficult to get your cat to consume the medication and it can be hard to properly dose.
Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Cat’s Eyes Clear
There are a handful of ways you can keep your kitty’s eyes healthy through preventative measures.
Keep up with annual vaccinations.
Don’t take on too many cats in a small space.
Check your cat’s eyes frequently for discharge.
Clear discharge by using a warm damp washcloth or cotton ball. Wipe from the corner of the eye out towards the edge and always use a different rag or cotton ball for each eye.
Gently flush irritated eyes by dropping warm distilled clean water into each eye until your cat blinks them out. Only use medical grade eye or ear syringes that are clear. Wipe, then do this once more. Do not overflush your cat’s eyes.
Don’t use human eye drops or medications unless recommended by a vet.
What do you think about our guide on cat eye problems? Tell us your treatment success story in the comments section below!