Why Is My Cat’s Eye Watering? The Answer For All!

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Cats are beautiful to look at in many aspects. One of those are their wild eyes. The eyes of a cat have critical functions that help it survive and enjoy a full life. But eyes are among the most delicate systems in a cat. As cats grow older, their eyes weaken and become more prone to diseases. Even when they are young, many cats suffer from various eye conditions that require careful inspection from vets.

Among those conditions are watery eyes. If you are wondering “why is my cat’s eye watering?”, we have the answer for you. We also introduce some simple ways to keep your cat’s eyes healthy and keep you from ever worrying about this question again.

Why Is My Cat’s Eye Watering?

Objects Stuck in Cat’s Eye

We start our list with the most negligible cause of cat runny eyes. There are no worrying infections here. It may just be a foreign object that happens to stay in your cat’s eye for a long time. Cats are curious animals. They like to explore their surroundings and bury their heads into dark places looking for food or a getaway spot. This creates many chances for foreign objects to get stuck in cats’ eyes.

Besides tear discharge, your cat would paw a lot at its eye, rub face on the floor or other objects and squint constantly if there is something nasty stuck there. Though this is the mildest eye problem, you have to treat it right if you want to remove the object.

The only way to do this is flushing your cat’s eye using a saline solution. As you flush, the foreign object should be washed out. But this is often not possible if the cat is in pain and does not let you. The use of fingers or tweezers is not recommended at all. You will most certainly cause further damage by pushing the object deeper into the eye.

A trip to the vet is a must if your cat’s eye gets swollen. The longer you sit on the problem, the more complications your cat will suffer from.


Cats can be allergic to a lot of things. These are the things that may cause your cat’s eye to water: pollens, dust mites and chemicals.

Pollen allergies are not as common as food allergies but as the seasons change, your cat may inhale pollens and suffer from allergic symptoms. Pollen allergy cases are reported the most in the late spring, summer as well as early fall. One of its mild symptoms is watery eye, which may disappear by itself or require just a little bit of vet treatment.

Many cats are allergic to dust mites – tiny creatures usually found in houses with pets. Believe it or not, they are everywhere around you, including upholstery, carpets, bedding, toys, mattresses, etc. They love the hot breaths produced by you when sleeping. 

Chemicals in foods are a very common source of allergies to cats. One of the food allergy symptoms is runny eyes.

Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs)

URIs are known as colds in cats. Many people think that cats do not have colds like humans but the truth is they do. Their colds are caused by certain kinds of bacteria or viruses. There are 5 common bacteria or viruses that cause colds in your cat: FHV-1, FVC, B. Bronchiseptica, C. Felis, and a feline retrovirus.

URIs, unfortunately, can be spread from one affected cat to others, depending on the kind of contact they have. URIs have a wide range of symptoms, including cat eye watering. If the symptoms are really getting worse, you would see eye discharge that looks like pus. Nose discharge happens, too.

URIs have an incubation time span of 2 to 10 days. After the incubation period, the nasty pains would last about 3 weeks.


Also known as “pink eye”, this condition occurs when the light pink lining that lies around cats’ eyes has an inflammation. Watery eyes are a common symptom of this condition. If your cat’s eye is swollen, red or sensitive to light, your cat may be suffering from conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis is caused by a number of viruses. But the main culprit in most cases is the herpes virus. This virus can quickly spread from affected cats to healthy ones. Bacteria can also be the culprits. In this case, vets refer to the condition as the “dry eye”.


In layman’s terms, Epiphora is the excessive release of colorless water (known as “tears”) from cats’ eyes. Epiphora is not a disease on its own. It is considered a symptom. Specifically, Epiphora often occurs in cats whose eyes do not drain the tear film properly. There is a thin tear film in all cats’ eyes that works to keep the eyes moist. When the tear is produced, it is supposed to be drained into the tear ducts. When this process does not happen properly, Epiphora occurs and you see your cat eye watering all the time.

If you see something damp or something in the reddish-brown color beneath your cat’s eye, it may well be Epiphora. So now you know why your cat seems to be “crying” sometimes. Many cat parents even report tears stripping down their felines’ faces.


There is a pigmented and vascular area in your cat’s eye. It is called the uveal tract. This tract includes the ciliary body, the iris and the choroid. The uveal tract takes the form of a hollow ball which has a big slit inside. When the uveal tract has an inflammation, your cat would suffer from a common eye problem called uveitis.

Uveitis can be caused by cancer, trauma, or infectious diseases. Many times vets cannot pinpoint the cause of uveitis in cats. But we know the following viruses that are likely to be the source of uveitis: feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV).

Corneal Disease

Your cat’s eye has a thin and clear layer covering the anterior chamber, the pupil and the iris. That layer is called the cornea. Corneal disease in cats infected the pure cornea with white or gray localized damage, or lesions. The worst level of this condition is blindness. But it’s not common. A more common scenario is cats’ eyesight would deteriorate significantly.

This is a hereditary disease. If your cat is not of the domestic shorthairbreed or the Manx breed, it’s very unlikely for your cat to suffer from this condition.

Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

This is a disease caused by the virus named the feline coronavirus in cats. Most cats do not show any symptoms when infected by this virus. Fortunately, cats’ immune system can battle this virus quite well and stop it from inflicting further damage. But there are a few cases in which the immune system somehow fails to stop the virus. The result is the infection of the white blood cells. Once the white blood cells are compromised by this virus, they spread the disease to the other organs.

This is when things start to take a turn for the worse. As the important organs are infected, this disease becomes deadly. FIP is considered one of the very few viral diseases that have an interesting pattern of development and that seem to fool the immune system.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When your cat’s eye is watering unusually, you should definitely take it to the vet for diagnosis. It’s not something you should ignore or try to tackle yourself, unless the vet says the condition is mild enough for you to care for your cat at home. If the condition continues for longer than 24 hours and you see your cat squint constantly, a trip to the vet is a must.

You must not use any medications on your cat’s eyes even though you have used it before. The problem you’re facing may turn out to be a very different one from the last problem. So, misuse of medications will only make things much worse. 

With appropriate tools, the vet will carry out a comprehensive examination of your cat. The vet would also consider your cat’s health profile, symptom history and the possible causes that may lead to the watery eyes.

Radiographs may be used to look for lesions in the nose or the sinus. MRI or CT may also be used to look more closely at the eye. Medical surgeries are sometimes the only option for a very serious eye infection.

Quick Tips to Maintain Your Cat’s Healthy Eyes

  • Take to the vet for regular check-ups 
  • Get cat vaccinated yearly 
  • Keep cat away from stray cats or other outdoor animals 
  • Check cat’s eyes frequently at home 
  • Feed high-quality foods for indoor cats that promote eye health


In general, there are many possible causes behind a cat’s watery eyes. The causes range from very mild to very serious, if not treated properly. We hope this article has answered the question “why is my cat’s eye watering?” from many of our readers. If your cat is in this situation, we hope it will get diagnosed soon and treated well. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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