Home Cat Health Why Does My Cat Have Eye Discharge?

Why Does My Cat Have Eye Discharge?

by Dani

So, you come home from work, and Fluffy meets you at the door, as usual, meowing and letting you know that it is time to feed her. You pick her up, telling her about your day and you notice one of her eyes has discharge coming from it – strange. Something is wrong.

There are multiple reasons for cats to have eye discharge, keep reading to find out and what to do about it.

eye discharge in cats

Viral Infection

Eye discharge is a symptom of an upper respiratory infection in kitties. It can affect one eye, both, and can cause a boogery nose. Because an upper respiratory infection (URI) can cause eye discharge, it is important to know your kitty’s environmental and vaccine history.

Does Fluffy have free roam of the neighborhood? Did you adopt her from the shelter? Has she had all her vaccines? Cats that can roam outside as they please are at a higher risk of catching an upper respiratory infection because there is a pretty high chance unvaccinated alley cats are roaming the streets as well.

And while adopting a cat from the shelter is a good deed (ADOPT DON’T SHOP!), it can also come with a side of herpes – a viral infection that can flare up from time to time, causing the upper respiratory infection and eye discharge. Ensuring vaccines remain up to date is important as well. The respiratory combo vaccine (FVRCP) will help keep URIs away and help Fluffy fight off any viruses.

eye discharge in cats

Directly Related to the Eye

Eye discharge can also come from an injury or trauma to the eye itself. Is Fluffy squinting like there is something stuck in her eye? Is the tissue around her eye red and angry looking?

Corneal ulcers can cause all the above and can be painful. A corneal ulcer is a scratch on the surface of the eye or the cornea.

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva – that pink tissue around the eye. When this tissue is angry, it can cause eye discharge and be uncomfortable for the cat.

Foreign bodies, such as a small piece of plant material, can also cause eye discharge. These can also lead to a corneal ulcer.

A condition called keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye, can cause some impressive eye discharge and mucousy eye boogers because the eye is desperate for some sort of lubrication.

eye discharge in cats

What to do about eye discharge in your cat

If you notice more than just “sleepies” in Fluffy’s eye, you should definitely contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment for her.

You can expect to be asked about her environmental history as we talked about above. Depending on Fluffy’s history and symptoms, your veterinarian can establish a plan that may include diagnostics that are specifically for the eyes.

For example, a fluorescein stain should be performed to rule out or diagnose a corneal ulcer. This is a non-invasive test where a stain is applied to the affected eye and rinsed out. If there is a stain uptake left after rinsing, there is an ulcer. A tear test can also be performed to ensure the eyes are producing enough tears. If they are not, Fluffy may have dry eye. Depending on the diagnosis, your veterinarian will want to prescribe Fluffy some sort of medication, including eye drops.

It is also good to know that some cat breeds are prone to mild eye discharge and tearing, such as the Persian breed because of their smooshed face. If that discharge turns green or yellow and is accompanied by squinting, they should be checked out by a veterinarian.

Remember, you know Fluffy the best and can tell when something is wrong. Don’t ignore a small problem before it turns into a bigger one!


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