Cat Eye Discharge: How to Tell and What to Do

Cat Eye Discharge: How to Tell and What to Do

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 17.11.2020

Cat eye discharge is nooooo joke here. If your cat’s eyes are a little gooby, there may be a plethora of reasons as to why that is the case. 

As a wonderful feline parent, you’ve likely cleaned some “boogies” out from your furry friend’s eyes before, one time or another. Like us humans, cats can experience eye discharge that may affect them in numerous ways. 

A minor amount of eye discharge from time to time isn’t typically something to worry about. But, if the discharge is chronic it can be a sign of infection or disease that you’ll need to approach sooner than later. 

In today’s article, we’ll touch on the possible reasons for your cat’s eye discharge, the roots of the problem, and how to treat and manage your cat’s eye discharge.

Let’s get to it, charge!

What is Feline Eye Discharge?

In general, eye discharge is not a disease in itself, but more so a potential sign of an underlying condition. Many diseases with eye discharge being a sign can lead to blindness or a systemic infection. 

Thus, if your cat’s discharge is long-lasting, experts recommend that you talk with your veterinarian and take a deeper look into what exactly may be causing it in the first place. 

Cat eye discharge originates from the tears that are constantly produced by the body, throughout the entire day. 



The tears normally drain at the corner of their eyes, without any spillage. But, when something irritates the eyes, the body will produce more tears than normal. This may result in discharge from the eye that is much more visible than the usual tears.

Eye discharge may not have a negative effect on many people or felines, if your cat experiences chronic eye discharge, you may want to figure out the root of the problem, soon. 

The Signs of Cat Eye Discharge

The signs of eye discharge that your catto may experience are very similar to the symptoms you may experience yourself, paw parent.

Cat eye discharge can differ in how often it happens, how consistently it happens, as well as how badly it irritates your four-legged fur baby. 

1. Crusted Eyes

It’s common to see crust formation around your cat’s eyes. This indicates that your cat may have dried eye discharge. A small amount of crust around the eyes is usually normal. 

However, if you notice larger amounts of crust matter, then you may assume that there was a large amount of mucus discharge, typically indicating that there may be an eye issue. 



2. Water-Like Discharge

You’ll likely see a watery discharge first, around your cat’s eyes. If you feel the fur surrounding the eye, you should be able to feel for any wetness. This moisture can range from being super thin to thick in regards to consistency. 

3. Swollen, Red, and Squinting Eyes

If your cat has watery eyes, they may also have redness and swelling. This is a clear sign of some form of infection and is not normal. 

Cats with swollen, red eyes constantly rub their face. From the couch to the carpet to your pant leg, they’ll attempt to relieve the itch and irritation any way they can. 



4. Eye Mucus

You may find sticky, gooby clumps around their eyes too. Many paw parents call these “eye boogers, or boogies”. 

This typically has a thick mucus-like consistency, but the amount of discharge will vary based on how bad the infection of ailment is that is affecting your cat. 

What Causes the Eye Discharge?

Like we mentioned above, the occasional eye discharge is usually not something to fret over. However, chronic, long-lasting discharge certainly is. Again, cat eye discharge isn’t a disease necessarily, but is rather a sign of an underlying condition or ailment that may need professional guidance and treatment. 

Some of the diseases and ailments we are about to touch on can result in blindness. It’s entirely possible for an eye infection to spread, affecting other parts of the body. 

It’s crucial that as a feline owner, you remain aware of what normal eye discharge looks and feels like, so in instances of abnormalities, you’re able to act accordingly. 



A) Pink Eye

When you find the root of the problem, most of them have one thing in common: good ‘ol inflammation. Conjunctivitis, commonly known as “pink eye”, refers to inflammation of the pink lining around the eye. 

Pink eye will cause your cat’s eyes to appear red and swollen. In these instances, your feline may be sensitive to light, with discharge that is clear and watery, possibly a thick mucus around the eyes too. 

Most pink eye cases can be resolved without permanent damage to their eyes. But, if the conjunctivitis is followed by diarrhea, trouble breathing, and or fever, this may be symptoms of a more serious condition - feline infectious peritonitis. Please talk to your vet ASAP. 

B) Eye Infections

Eye issues may be linked to infectious agents, including viruses or bacterias. 

Eye infections can be extremely contagious and pass rapidly from cat to cat. Thus, if you believe your cat may have an eye infection, proper diagnosis and treatment is crucial. 

Regardless of age, all felines with a viral or bacterial eye infection must be treated appropriately. These infections can be very contagious and are difficult to contain in crowded environments. 

Bacterial infections often need antibiotics. The sooner you are able to receive a diagnosis, the sooner you can start treatment and prevent the spread of the infection to any other felines present. 

C) Feline Respiratory Infection

One of the possible causes of excessive eye discharge is an upper respiratory infection. This includes infections that may have been caused by: 

  • Pneumonitis
  • Bacteria
  • Protozoa
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Rhinotracheitis
  • Other contagious respiratory conditions

You may not think your cat has an upper respiratory infection because the signs and symptoms can start off very mild and remain that day for a long period of time prior to them worsening and becoming severe. 

Eye discharge that is associated with an upper respiratory infection is often sticky to the touch and resembles pus. There will also be signs of nasal discharge and sneezing. 

D) Tearing, Watery Eyes

The term epiphora can describe excessive tear production. You may hear your vet refer to your cat’s eye discharge of this, but it’s important to determine what’s the exact cause of it. 

Tearing and watery eyes can also result in conditions such as:

  • An overproduction of tears
  • Blocked tear ducts
  • Cat allergies 

E) Foreign Object in Eye

Cat discharge could totally start from a foreign object being in the eye. This may result in the natural overproduction of tears in an attempt to rid whatever is causing the eye irritation. 

In many instances, the excessive production of tears successfully rids the foreign body. However, if the foreign object is stuck deep in the eye, a vet may need to take a look. 

If your cat loves the outdoors or is curious and suddenly has an eye issue, a foreign object may be stuck in their eye. Take a little trip to your vet if you think this is the case. 

F) Uveitis

Uveitis refers to inflammation of the uvea, the internal structure of the eye. A number of ailments can lead to this condition, including various eye cancers, problems with the immune system, physical trauma, and various infections. 

Feline uveitis is commonly painful and may require appropriate vet treatment. 

G) Predisposed Breed

Certain breeds are at a higher risk of developing eye issues. Excessive eye discharge may be due to the shape of their face.

Breeds such as Himalayans, Persians, and other brachycephalic cat breeds are more prone to excessive tear production. 

With these breeds, it’s imperative that you know your cat’s normal eye discharge.


When Do I Visit the Vet?

 If you notice a yellowish or green discharge, make an appointment to see your vet ASAP. This is a sign of infection. If there is enough discharge that needs to be wiped away, we highly recommend you see your vet. 



If the eyes are red and swollen or if your feline is rubbing their eyes excessively, make an appointment with your vet. Better safe than sorry, right? You may just need to administer eye drops on a regular schedule for a while to get their discharge back to normal. 

However, in other instances, the eye discharge may lead to your vet finding other underlying conditions or ailments that need addressing. 

Cat Eye Discharge: Final Thoughts

Your cat’s eyes are incredibly important. Trust your pet owner gut on this one when we say if you think there may be something wrong, we recommend seeing your veterinarian for a professional look. 

When all is said and done, we know that you only want the best for your feline friend. Don’t be easily swayed to just brush off the unusual eye discharge.

Again, trust your guts! If something seems wrong or off about your fur baby, talk with your vet. Your cat’s eyes are extremely important to their well-being. 

Leave a comment