Why Are My Cat’s Eyes Watering? – 7 Possible Causes

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

why are my cat's eyes watering

One of the most common medical issues for cats is watering eyes and it can be found in every cat breed. So, let’s answer the burning question of most cat owners, “Why are my cat’s eyes watering?”

A cat’s eyes can become watery due to many reasons. It may be that a foreign body got stuck inside, it could be an eye infection, maybe even an allergy, and in worse cases, it could be conjunctivitis or glaucoma.

Reasons Why My Cat’s Eyes Watering


Cats have a special coating on the top of their eyes that are mainly responsible for maintaining their visual health. It can provide nutrients, remove dirt, and keep the cat’s eyes from drying.

This coating is called a tear film, and this is the feature that helps get rid of foreign bodies.

However, we must note that the tear film is also in charge of fighting against bacteria. So, if your cat’s eyes are showing symptoms of teariness, they could be doing their best to defend against something that can affect their condition.

1. Eyes irritated by foreign bodies

It could be that a foreign body is irritating your cat’s eye. Perhaps some dust, a speck, or even a piece of fur accidentally made its way inside. If this is the case, you can tell if it’s just regular foreign body irritation if their watery eyes can quickly get better without interference.

Usually, it goes away without trouble, but if the cats eye keeps watering. Another way to tell is through the actions of the cat. Try to see if your cat suddenly blinks or is trying to rub its eyes with its paws.

2. Eyes suffering from bacterial infection


Check the color of the water flowing from your cat’s eyes. Is it transparent or yellow? Is it thick or wet? Is it watering brown?

  • If it’s colored yellow and in dense clumps, it’s a bacteria infection.
  • Meanwhile, if the substance is transparent instead of colored, it’s a virus.

If you get your cat checked by the vet, the usual instructions would be for you to give it some time and observe if the watery eyes disappear in around two weeks.

Bacteria can lead to further problems like conjunctivitis. Here are some examples of bacterial infections that can lead to conjunctivitis:

  • Streptococcus
  • Salmonella
  • Chlamydophila

3. Eyes being infected by Conjunctivitis

The most recognizable symptoms of conjunctivitis, or by its other name Pinkeye, are red and swollen eyes paired with water-like mucus where cats become sensitive to light.

Conjunctivitis can be viral and caught by other cats, and kittens are more prone to infection. So, if you see a kitten’s eye watering, it’s best to have it checked early on.

Sometimes the symptom won’t affect both of the cat’s eyes. So, if you ask ‘Why is only one of my cat’s eyes watery?’, that could be the reason. Pink Eye can affect one eye, resulting in a cat having one watery eye.

Commonly, conjunctivitis cases can go away without any medicine, but there’s still a chance it can develop into a more dangerous issue.

Pinkeye is one of the typical issues cats experience, and many things can cause it. Things that could cause pinkeye may include:

  • Foreign body irritations
  • Infections
  • Allergies

4. Eyes experiencing respiratory infections


Another reason you start seeing a cat eye-watering and squinting could be respiratory infections. Usually, watering and sneezing are two symptoms that go along with respiratory infections.

There are many symptoms for this issue, so a trip to the vet so your cat can receive the necessary lab tests might be needed to find the issue’s leading cause.

Things that can cause respiratory infections could include:

  • Bacteria
  • Herpesvirus
  • Feline calicivirus

5. Cat is experiencing allergies


Just like humans, cats can also have allergies. The watery eyes symptom may be the cause of the cat going through an allergic reaction. If by chance you start observing that your cat may be experiencing an allergy, the next time, you must take a vet trip so you can take further instructions.

Here are some of the allergens that may have affected your cat:

  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Specific medicines
  • Perfume
  • Flea-control products

6. Effect of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a painful eye issue for your cat that can be identified mainly by a cat’s expressions of pain and swelling. If you see an abnormal bulging or inflammation around your cat’s eyes, you should take a trip to the vet for confirmation.

Since glaucoma’s main symptom is pain, you should take your cat to the vet as soon as possible since it can rapidly develop. If left alone, the cat’s eyes would fester until most of the cat’s ability to see is affected.

7. Breed prone to watery eyes


It could be that your cat breed is just one that’s susceptible to having watery eyes. Breeds with short and round skills tend to have eye problems like watery eyes because of their biological shape. The tears they produce might irritate their skin if left alone.

If this is the case, it’s best to approach your vet about the proper medicine for your cat’s breed.

How to Treat Eye Watering in Cats?

Some of the reasons you see why a cat has runny eyes can go away if left alone, but there’s also a slight chance of it getting worse when unattended. So, if you want to treat your cat’s watery eyes, the sure thing you must do is to go and see a vet.

If you want to treat your cat, the first thing you must do is find its cause. Some of the examples of treatments for cats who are experiencing teariness can be:

  • A cat weepy eye home remedy is removing the cause of irritation stuck in the cat’s eyes with watered cotton
  • The use of antihistamine when the cat’s teary eyes is due to allergic reactions
  • Using a buster collar to stop the cat from causing further irritation to its eyes
  • Medicine like anti-inflammatories that stop the swelling
  • Prescribed antibiotics that can treat infections



What does it mean when your cat’s eye is watering?

When a cat or kittens runny eyes start happening, it’s because they’re trying to produce tears to give their eyes the needed protection. The fluid helps eliminate any foreign objects that might irritate the eyes and provides other health benefits.

A cat being irritated with their eyes and not eating could mean they’re going through cat flu.

Tears are completely normal for cats, so you might find some mucus build up every now and then. However, if they start excessively tearing up and producing abnormal discharge, that’s when you know there’s an issue.

Should I take my cat to the vet for a watery eye?

You must look out for different causes of concert. So, if you’re asking yourself ‘When should I treat my cats watery eye?’ you know it’s time for you to take your cat to the vet when you start noticing these different signs:

  • If there’s thick, unusually colored mucus being released from their eyes
  • If they’re blinking more often than they normally do.
  • If your cats are trying to irritate their eyes further through pawing or scratching.
  • If the watering amount is coming from your cat’s eyes, pour in unusually high amounts.

However, if you see that there are no other symptoms that may be a cause for concern, there is no need to take your cat to the vet.


When your cat’s eyes are watering up it’s not because they’re crying. Cats don’t cry in the same way humans do. Nope, it could either be that they’re teary in the usual way for their health, or they could be experiencing the downsides to some medical issues.

Remember the possible answers for the question ‘Why are my cat’s eyes watering?’ so you know what to do if ever these symptoms show up for your cat.

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