Little,Cute,Black,Kitten,Lay,On,Outdoor,Floor,With,Dirty

Cat Eye Discharge: A Comprehensive Guide

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
If you buy something from a link on our site, we may earn a commission. See our advertising disclosure.
If you buy something from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.
See our advertising disclosure.

What Does a Cat Eye Discharge Look Like?

What Does a Cat Eye Discharge Look Like

Cat eye discharge looks like a clear and teary or thick and mucous substance around the cat’s eyes. Sometimes, a small amount of discharge is normal. However, based on the cat’s symptoms, other times, it requires veterinary attention.

Is It Normal for a Cat to Have Eye Discharge?

Yes, cat eye discharge is normal when it is clear, minimal, and present at certain times of the day – for example, after waking up. So, clear discharge and even a small amount of crusty discharge at the corner of the eye are normal.

When the cat blinks, tears roll through the tear ducts and coat the surface of the eye. This keeps them hydrated. Normal cat eye discharge has another purpose – getting rid of foreign bodies. For example, if a dust particle of a grain of sand gets into the eye, the excessive tearing will flush the foreign body away.

Finally, cat eye discharge is more common in certain cat breeds. Namely, watery eyes are common in Persians.

When Should I Worry About My Cat’s Eye Discharge?

You should be worried about cat eye discharge if it is excessive, abnormal, or accompanied by other signs and symptoms. In such cases, the eye discharge is secondary and indicates a more severe underlying issue.

Worrisome eye discharge is abundant, discolored, and accompanied by sneezing, pawing at the eyes, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, etc.

Terramycin Antibiotic Ointment for Eye Infection Treatment
  • Veterinary antibiotic ointment for treating eye infections in dogs, cats, cattle, horses, and sheep with active ingredients oxytetracycline hydrochloride and Polymyxin B Sulfate.
  • Treats diseases such as conjunctivitis, keratitis, pink eye, corneal ulcer, blepharitis, and bacterial inflammatory conditions resulting from other infectious diseases. Use only as directed. Consult product instructions for details.
  • Terramycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment for the eye infections specified on product labeling. 

What Causes Discharge in a Cat’s Eyes?

A few common reasons for cat eye discharge include:

  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye). This inflammation of the light pink lining around your cat’s eyes or conjunctiva. This can cause your cat’s eyes to be red and swollen. Additional symptoms include light sensitivity and thick eye discharge.
  • Eye Infections. Eye infections can be triggered by mechanical irritation to the cat’s eyes or pathogens – viral (feline herpesvirus, feline infectious peritonitis) and bacterial infections. Eye infections are common causes of eye discharge.
  • Corneal Disorders. A cat’s cornea is a dome-shaped structure that covers the front of the eye. It can therefore become inflamed, injured, and even ulcerated. As a result of corneal ulcers, the cat will show cloudiness, excessive blinking, inflammation, and increased tear production.
  • Excessive Tearing (Epiphora). If your cat has blocked tear ducts, it causes overproduction of tears. Allergies and conjunctivitis can cause the same.
  • Uveitis. This is an inflammation of the internal structure of your cat’s eye and could indicate trauma, immune problems, and other infections. The condition can be excruciating for your cat.
  • Dry Eye. Also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KKS) is a lack of tear product leading to dry eyes and inflamed eye structures. Unless taken care of, it leads to sight damage or blindness. Since the watery portion of the tears is missing, the discharge can be yellow and gooey.
  • Third Eyelid Issues. Problems with the third eyelid, such as cherry eye, can also result in extra tear production and the formation of cat eye discharge.
  • Allergies. Cat allergies are a common cause of eye discharge. The cat will show additional signs and symptoms if an allergic reaction is an issue. Allergies are challenging to diagnose and manage.
  • Foreign Body. As mentioned, cat eye discharge can result from a foreign body that got into the eyes. Common foreign bodies in a cat’s eyes are dust, sand, and foxtails.
  • Feline Upper Respiratory Infections. This is a common reason for eye discharge in cats. These can also indicate the presence of viruses such as feline calicivirus. Also, it can be a contagious respiratory disease, pneumonitis or rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus), bacteria, and protozoa. This could lead to pus-like eye discharge.

What Color Should Cat Eye Discharge Be?

Eye discharge can take a wide range of colors. Some include clear, gray, green, yellow, or a dark rusty color. This is entirely dependent on the underlying cat eye problem.

How do I Get Rid of My Cat’s Eye Discharge?

If the discharge is minor and your cat allows it, use a damp cotton ball to wipe away the discharge. Ensure that you use individual cotton balls for each eye. Till the time your vet does not recommend it, do not use over-the-counter eye drops. Finally, keep a check on your cat’s other symptoms.

Some products can be used to support ocular pet health and get rid of cat eye discharge safely and efficiently. Here is a closer look at those products.

Terramycin Antibiotic Ointment for Eye Infection Treatment in Cats & Dogs. This veterinary antibiotic pet ointment is perfect for treating eye infections in dogs, cats, cattle, horses, and sheep. It is formulated with active ingredients, including oxytetracycline hydrochloride and polymyxin B sulfate.

The product treats diseases such as conjunctivitis, keratitis, pink eye, corneal ulcer, blepharitis, and bacterial inflammatory conditions resulting from other infectious diseases.

Terramycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic used for eye infections specified on product labeling. It is easy to administer and is available OTC except in California. Pet owners give this product 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Get it on Amazon          Get it on Chewy

Cliny Eye Cleaner Lotion for Cats & Dogs. Cliny provides gentle care for dogs and cats, prevents eye infection, eliminates clogging, and relieves puffiness and irritation around eyelids. The product contains boric acid, which disinfects the eyes and reduces inflammation of the eyelids.

It also contains taurine, which activates the process of eye restoration. This cleaner contains silver ions, which have a bactericidal effect, and panthenol, which helps heal wounds and soften skin.

For thorough care and healthy eyes, provide treatment once or twice a week with these potent eye drops. Pet owners give this product 4.3 out of 5 stars.

Get it on Amazon

LumenPro Pet Eye Drops. LumenPro eye drops provide dual-action support for pets suffering from cataracts. It combines the cataract-fighting power of Lanosterol and antioxidants. LumenPro’s eye drops for dogs are significantly more effective on cataracts than any other pet eye drops brand on the market.

LumenPro is best known as dog eye drops, but they are just as effective as cat eye drops, or horse eye drops, and also effective on rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and many other large animals.

The duration of treatment will vary among individual animals. However, a three-month course of treatment is typical with our customers. Pet owners give this product 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Get it on Amazon

PetSilver Eye Wash Drops for Dogs and Cats. This wash can help support the issue of unsightly tear stains from the fur under the eyes. PetSilver has carefully formulated this product to be as sting-free as possible.

There is no alcohol, no artificial scents, and no perfumes or preservatives. This formula includes only water and chelated silver. PetSilver formulates all its products to be used for cats and dogs, which are not breed-specific.

Using these drops may be a job for two people – one to hold your pet, and one to administer the drops. However, it is very efficient. Pet owners give this product 4.4 out of 5 stars.

Get it on Amazon          Get it on Chewy

Will Cat Eye Discharge Go Away On Its Own?

Will Cat Eye Discharge Go Away On Its Own

Yes, it is possible for cat eye discharge to go away on its own.

However, if the discharge looks worrisome, it is not advisable to wait. Since cat eye discharge can signify a severe eye problem, it is best to seek veterinary help. Eye problems can go from bad to worse real fast.

Will a Cat Eye Discharge Spread to Humans?

No. The chances of viruses and bacteria responsible for a cat’s eye condition getting transferred to humans is meager.

However, it is still suggested to follow basic hygiene practices, including washing your hands after petting your cat. You should also wear gloves or wash your hands after applying eye drops or other cat eye medication.

How Long does Cat Eye Discharge Last?

Usually, your cat’s eye discharge should clear up within a few days. However, the discharge will persist if there is an underlying eye issue.

In case your cat continues to have discharge for more than a few days, it is best to talk to a vet at the earliest to figure out the underlying cause.

How Can I Prevent Cat Eye Discharge?

There are several things pet owners can do to prevent cat eye discharge:

  • Eye Cleaning. Using eye cleansing solutions on a regular basis is helpful for preventing eye problems and discharge. There are many over-the-counter cat eye products.
  • Vaccination & Deworming. Keeping cats up to date on vaccines and dewormers is vital for preventing eye discharge. Some of the pathogens causing discharge are covered in vaccines, and dewormers kill worms which in turn may result in decreased immunity and eye discharge.
  • Regular Vet Visits. It is paramount to have your cat regularly checked by a vet. Exams can prevent specific pet health issues and catch others early on.