Why Are My Cat’s Eyes Watering?

Several factors can cause cats’ eyes to water, including allergies, trauma, and infections. Some cases can be easily treated (many can even be treated at home), but sometimes a veterinarian will need to prescribe medication or perform a procedure.

Both the frequency and intensity of watery eyes can be affected by factors such as the size of a cat’s muzzle. Environmental factors can also influence the condition.

If your cat has watery eyes, you should speak to a veterinarian about the causes, treatment, and long-term management.

Associated Symptoms

Watery eyes are a common symptom of allergies and other issues in cats. Watery eyes in your cat may signal a larger issue if they are accompanied by other symptoms. 

Please notify your veterinarian if your cat exhibits additional symptoms, such as:

Eye discharge that is thick, yellow, or green
Eye discomfort or pawing at the eyes
Impaired vision
Cloudiness in the eyes
Reddish-brown staining under the eyes

In the absence of treatment, any of the symptoms should be checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If not, it could lead to vision problems or even permanent damage to your cat’s eyes.


There are a variety of triggers that can cause a cat’s eyes to water, from allergies to serious underlying conditions. Examples include:

  • Eye allergies
  • Feline conjunctivitis
  • Upper respiratory infection 
  • Various eye infections
  • Trauma or injury
  • Epiphora (excessive tearing) is caused by drainage problems
  • Entropion is a condition in which the eyelashes roll inward and scrape the cornea.

5 Reasons Your Cat’s Eyes May Be Watering

1. Eye Allergies

Allergens or other irritants can cause watery eyes, whether indoors or outdoors. Examples include:

  • Mold and mildew
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Perfumes
  • Household cleaners
  • Medications

By removing the specific allergen from their environment, you can reduce the amount your cat’s eyes water as well as any irritation caused by allergies.

Consult your veterinarian if you are unable to identify the cause. You may also find suggestions for pet-friendly cleaning and home products from them.

Your veterinarian can prescribe or suggest a different treatment if you determine that your cat is allergic to a certain medication.

2. Feline Conjunctivitis

Inflammation of the conjunctiva (this is the light pink lining surrounding your cat’s eyes) is caused by viruses, bacteria, or environmental irritants. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and sensitivity to light. The condition can also cause your cat’s eyes to water or discharge.

Often, feline conjunctivitis will heal on its own, but it should still be evaluated by your veterinarian. In more serious cases, topical antibiotics, such as eye drops or ointments, may be necessary. Antivirals may also be prescribed, depending on the cause.

Left untreated, conjunctivitis can cause serious harm to the eye(s) of your cat. This can include loss of vision in severe cases. Get help for your cat quickly if you notice any signs of discomfort, redness, or watering.

Although conjunctivitis is a serious condition for many cats, it is also common among the species. Most cats will experience conjunctivitis at least once in their lifetime, whether mild, moderate, or severe.

3. Upper Respiratory Infection 

A number of viruses can cause upper respiratory infections in kittens and adult cats. Herpes, caliciviruses, Chlamydophila felis, and Bordetella bronchiseptica are among some of these. 

An upper respiratory infection can be treated as long as your cat gets the correct care. However, it can be unpleasant for the cat in a variety of ways – watery eyes, sore throat, sneezing, and fever (among other symptoms).

You may need to give your pet antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and/or special eye drops if they have upper respiratory infections. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely when caring for your pet. Vaccinations are recommended as a preventive measure. They include two doses at first followed by regular boosters.

Cats may also contract other types of eye infections, some of which can cause their eyes to water. You should consult a veterinarian if your cat shows signs of discomfort or illness, as the symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause.

4. Injury Or Trauma

Inflammation, redness, and watering can result from eye injuries or trauma to your cat’s eye(s). You can get dirt or sand in your eyes, or you can get a scratch because of a tussle with another animal. Also, grass awns get lodged behind the third eyelid.

The condition of your cat should be closely monitored no matter what the cause of the injury is. If the injury is severe, if unusual symptoms occur or if you have any other concerns, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Your veterinarian will determine the most appropriate course of treatment for your pet.

5. Epiphora

Epiphora is a symptom of more serious diseases and other health problems in cats, not a condition. 

Cats produce tears to lubricate their eyes under normal circumstances. Excess fluid drains out of the nose through the nasolacrimal ducts.

The process keeps the eyes moisturized at a healthy level and drains away dust and other particles trapped in tears.

However, if the tear ducts are blocked for any reason, this fluid cannot be absorbed properly and excessive tearing can occur (epiphora). Under the eyes, this can cause staining and irritation of the skin. The fur may also be wet in the area around the eyes. 

A veterinarian can treat blocked nasolacrimal ducts by flushing them with special instruments. If epiphora is because of underdeveloped tear ducts or another serious condition such as entropion, surgery may be necessary.

While your cat is anesthetized, both flushing procedures and surgical treatments are performed.


Treatment for a cat’s watering eyes depends on the underlying cause and can range from eye drops to surgery. While some conditions can be treated at home, more severe cases like infections and injuries require immediate medical attention.

Eye allergies can be treated with artificial tears and by removing the allergen from your cat’s environment. Conjunctivitis, upper respiratory infections (sometimes referred to as cat flu), and other types of infections may require prescribed treatments or prescription antibiotics.

Other conditions that have caused watering eyes in your cat should be treated based on their severity. 

It doesn’t hurt to contact a vet if you have concerns about your pet’s watering eyes. Some cases may indicate a larger problem, while others are merely a sign of allergies. Regardless of the case, your veterinarian will provide you with the appropriate treatment.

Risk Factors

There are some cats that are more prone to watery eyes and forms of discharge. The reason for this is often the breed and how the eyes sit on the face. Because of their face shape and structure, breeds such as Persians and exotic shorthairs are prone to tearing.

The shorter the muzzle, the less room there is for proper drainage from the eyes into the tear ducts that lead to the nose. These breeds suffer from excessive tearing, wet and stain certain breeds.

Furthermore, if your cat’s tear ducts did not develop properly during the early stages of its life, it can later suffer from conditions such as excessive watering or discharge.

Environmental problems like allergies can also play a role in the intensity of your cat’s eyes watering. Luckily, eye allergies are often easily treated.

If your cat has a short muzzle or any other problem that could cause watery eyes, speak to your veterinarian.

The Outlook

Do not hesitate to call your veterinarian if your cat is in pain or shows signs of infection, injury, or other eye conditions. Watery eyes in cats are often caused by mild underlying causes such as allergies.

The watering, however, can also be a sign of a serious condition that warrants immediate veterinary attention.

Depending on their eye or face shape, some breeds may be more prone to watering eyes. In this case, the treatment may simply require increased hygienic measures to keep the eye area clean and monitored.

Make sure your cat gets regular checkups at the veterinarian as well. Vaccines and other preventive care should be provided to your pet on a regular basis. His or her overall health, including eye and vision health, can be improved by this.

Courtney Trent
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