Cat with goopy eyes

Why does my cat have goopy eyes?

The eyes of a cat are arguably their most recognizable body part, easily seen even from afar. Their eyes are tuned differently than ours and are more sensitive to visual stimuli. Any damage or injury to their eyes can negatively affect a cat’s quality of life, and as such needs to be protected. Therefore, it’s important to be able to recognize signs of disease or pain that may be affecting your cat’s eyes. Continue reading to learn common causes and treatment options for cats with goopy eyes.

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Is eye discharge normal for cats?

Tears and other types of eye discharge are produced by glands located around the eyes, called lacrimal glands. These glands secrete clear discharge to help lubricate the eye and protect it from irritation and damage that it may get from constant contact with the eyelids. Keeping the eyes lubricated can also help trap environmental irritants and prevent them from damaging or injuring the eye.

There are situations where the lacrimal glands produce more discharge than normal. Most of the time it’s a reaction to a foreign object that may have gotten in contact with the eye. By producing excessive tears, the body can flush away these irritants and contaminants that may cause damage or inflammation to the eyes.

While most cases of excessive tearing in cats are harmless, it can also be a sign that the animal may be suffering from some type of eye condition. Excessive eye discharge, or medically known as epiphora, is also commonly seen in the initial stages of many eye problems, and being able to identify if the excessive tears are a normal reaction or are caused by an eye condition is important.

How to Tell if Your Cat has an Eye Infection or Other Problem

Excessive tear production in itself is not usually a health concern in cats. More often, cats produce excessive amounts of tears as a way to protect their eyes from possible environmental hazards. However, if the eye discharge is accompanied by other symptoms, chances are it may be a sign of an eye problem.

Swelling of the tissues surrounding the eyes, called conjunctivitis, is usually seen together with excessive eye discharge when there’s inflammation. Redness of the sclera, the white part of the eye, is also an indication of inflammation in the eye and is also usually accompanied by excessive tear production.

The color of the eye discharge can also help determine the cause of the problem. Normally, lacrimal glands produce clear and viscous fluid to lubricate the cat’s eye and flush out any possible debris on its surface. The eye discharge turns green or yellow and when there’s some degree of infection on the eye or tissues surrounding it.

Lastly, if the excessive eye discharge is accompanied by physical changes on the clear portion of the eye such as cloudiness or bluish and white color on the cornea, it can be an indication of some degree of corneal injury. Signs of pain and discomfort like pawing at the eye or squinting can also be seen in cases of corneal damage.

If you start to see any of the signs mentioned above, you need to visit your vet as soon as possible to have them checked.

Common Eye Problems That Cause Goopy Eyes in Cats

1. Corneal Injury

Any damage along the corneal surface of the cat’s eye like ulceration or abrasion can cause excessive eye discharge and goopy eyes. The glands surrounding the eye will produce profuse amounts of tears to help remove any foreign object causing the damage and help speed up the healing of the corneal damage.

2. Eye Infections

Local infection of the eyes or any of the structures surrounding them also causes excessive tear production in cats. Bacterial, viral, and fungal pathogens can cause eye infections and initial symptoms are usually excessive yellow or green eye discharge. Primary eye infections are relatively uncommon. Most cases are secondary and happen as a complication to an underlying eye problem such as corneal injury.

Some systemic infections in cats also cause goopy eyes with green or yellow discharge. In kittens, viral infections from calicivirus and herpesvirus result in excessive greenish eye discharge accompanied by severe conjunctivitis and rhinitis. Infected kittens often are not able to open their eyes due to the degree of eye discharge build-up.

3. Tear Duct Obstruction

A cat’s eyes and nasal passages are connected via a small duct running from the edge of the eyes’ opening into the nasal passage, called the nasolacrimal duct. This duct serves as a drainage path for the tears that the lacrimal glands produce to prevent excessive build-up. This is the reason why when there’s epiphora in cats, it’s also common to see nasal discharge as well.

Certain conditions like nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, or eye inflammation sometimes obstruct the nasolacrimal duct and prevent proper drainage of the tears, leading to excessive tear build-up.

Treatment Options for Cats with Goopy Eyes

Treatment for excessive tear production in cats will depend on the underlying cause. Some eye drops help reduce inflammation, control infection, and help speed up the healing of corneal damage. Obstructed nasolacrimal ducts can be flushed with saline to remove the blockage and restore proper drainage.

Properly identifying and diagnosing the underlying cause of epiphora is essential in the treatment of the condition. If you have seen any of the symptoms mentioned above or suspect that your cat may be suffering from an eye problem, it’s best to visit your vet to have your cat’s eyes checked thoroughly.

Read more:

First Aid for Your Pet’s Eye

Anatomy and Function of Your Pet’s Eyes

10 Fats About Cat Eyes

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