Wondering Why Your Cat Has Eye Discharge? 3 Vets Explain What It Could Be

Jenna Wirth
·3 min read
Domestic Cat Lies in a Basket with a Knitted Blanket, Looking At the Camera. Tinted Photo.
Domestic Cat Lies in a Basket with a Knitted Blanket, Looking At the Camera. Tinted Photo.

Fun fact: cat's eyes can say a lot about their health. They are prone to a range of issues that can trouble their eyes. That's why it's so important for pet owners to monitor their cats' eyes closely. "In general, eye issues can develop and progress very quickly," said Jessica Hermann, DVM, a veterinarian at Fuzzy Pet Health.

That said, cat eye discharge can happen for several reasons. As a result, treatment varies greatly, as it depends on what eye condition is diagnosed. To help us better understand why your furbaby's eyes are leaking, POPSUGAR spoke with three veterinarians who explain what you need to know.

Related: Cats Are the First Pets to Test Positive For the Coronavirus in the US, So Now What?

What Causes Cat Eye Discharge?

There are several causes of eye discharge in cats. A few common reasons include allergies, environmental irritants, trauma to the cornea like scratches, ulcers, or foreign material, and viral and bacterial infections like feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus, and mycoplasma, said Alycia Washington, DVM.

One of the most common feline eye disorders is conjunctivitis, which can be caused by any of the previously mentioned conditions or diseases. Nicknamed pink eye, "conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the eyelids and helps cover the whites of the eyes," Dr. Washington explained.

When Should I Make a Vet Appointment?

If your feline experiences abnormal eye discharge for longer than 24 hours, you should consult your veterinarian, Jesus Aramendi, DVM, senior veterinarian at Chewy, told POPSUGAR. "If left untreated or undiagnosed, it could result in severe disease, and in some cases, even cause temporary or permanent damage to the eye," he noted.

Some signs of discomfort to look out for are squinting, rubbing, and pawing at the eyes, Dr. Washington said, adding that green or yellow discharge and additional symptoms like nasal discharge, sneezing, or poor appetite also warrant concern.

How Is Cat Eye Discharge Treated?

Because treatment depends on the cause, an exam is important to determine if the cause is isolated to the eyes or if there is a larger problem, Dr. Washington said. Moreover, to check for corneal ulcers or scratches, eye staining is often used.

Your veterinarian may prescribe various eye drops, including antibiotic eye drops, corneal healing drops, steroids eye drops, and/or eye drops for pain and inflammation, and oral medications, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, steroids, and/or pain medications, Dr. Hermann said. Surgery may also be warranted. "In all instances, an E-collar or cone will be necessary while the eye is being treated," she added.

How Can I Keep My Cat's Eyes Healthy?

Dr. Aramendi recommends keeping your sassy furball indoors as much as possible since they are more prone to contracting diseases from stray cats. He also suggests avoiding smoking around your cat and using strong chemicals around your cat's environment since chemicals like undiluted bleach, scented candles, and diffusers as well as tobacco smoke can irritate your cat's eyes and respiratory tract.

Lastly, if you cannot visit your veterinarian as soon as an ocular abnormality arises, Dr. Herman advises putting an E-collar or cone on your cat until a vet can be seen to prevent any further damage to the eye(s).