Epiphora (Watery Eyes) in Cats – When It Is Time to Worry?

Being an animal lover means feeling and knowing your feline’s behavior, and noticing even the slightest changes with it. Teary eyes are nothing new when it comes to certain breeds, but with others – watery eyes in cats warn of potential eye irritation. 

You can never go wrong if you decide to visit a vet, but first, let’s get a grasp of some of the most common symptoms why felines are squinting and how you can treat this at home.

What Causes Watery Eyes in Cats?

If your furry friend is squinting or pawing at his/her eye, or if there is some puffiness, watch out for:

  • Redness and inflammation, 
  • Eye discharge, 
  • Overflowing tears, 
  • Loose skin around the eyes,
  • Injuries to the eye or scratches,
  • Foreign bodies such as eyelashes or grass seed stuck in-between the lid and the eye. 

Biological Differences Between Breeds 

Some breeds are predisposed to have teary eyes. Interestingly, the shape of your cat’s eye can largely affect this. Cats with round eyes, flat face, and small nose (Brachycephalic cats) seem to be shedding a tear every once and then. 

Persian, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayans, and Burmese breeds usually have brown streaks under their eyes. Watery eyes in these breeds are relatively normal, but you should still keep after your feline’s under-eye area and wipe it regularly to prevent your kitty from getting tear stains. 

Visiting the Vet

Sudden and excessive tearing that doesn’t stop within 24 hours is a sign you should visit the veterinarian. Also, a green or yellow-colored and thick eye discharge, red-eye tissue, frequent blinking, cloudy-looking eyes, and squeezing are among the other symptoms that need treatment at the vet’s office.

The vet will check whether there is any damage to the structure of your feline’s eyes and measure his/her eye pressure before determining the underlying cause and suggesting a treatment plan.

How to Treat Epiphora

In case the vet diagnoses conjunctivitis, uveitis, eye infection, ulcer, allergic reaction, blocked tear ducts, or any physical abnormality, they might send you home with the appropriate medication – ointment or eye drops.

Although not the most compliant patient, you should try to set the conditions as calm and distraction-free as possible for your cat. Make sure the area is peaceful and quiet, reward your feline before the treatment, pet it, and apply the treatment once you feel like the kitty is calm and cooperative.

Sometimes, rewarding during the treatment and after is required as well so the cat develops positive associations with the whole process. Otherwise, you might find a hard time getting it under the bed once it sees the medication.


We understand pet parents are sometimes overly cautious. Watery eyes in cats can be a sign of irritation, allergy, conjunctivitis, or just a regular occurrence with some breeds. However, if you believe this is everything but a temporary consequence, make sure to visit the vet.

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