Cat Eye Discharge — What’s Normal and What’s Not

Cat eye discharge — whether it's cat eye boogers, watery cat eyes or something else — can be normal ... or not. Here's what to know about cat eye discharge.

A tabby cat dealing with eye discharge.
A tabby cat dealing with eye discharge. Photography by Warapatr_s/

Do your cat’s eyes ever get watery, goopy or downright crusty? Cat eye discharge can be a little gross. Sometimes it may indicate an eye problem that needs veterinary attention. If you’ve ever wondered if cat eye boogers or watery cat eyes are normal or what could be causing them, you’re not alone. Read on to get the scoop on what’s normal and what’s not:

First, what is cat eye discharge?


“Tears are produced constantly throughout the day and normally drain at the corner of the eye without spilling over,” says Beth Kimmitt, D.V.M., resident of ophthalmology at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Indiana. “If something causes irritation to the eye, more tears are produced. Irritation to the eye or blockage of the normal drainage pathway may lead to tears that spill over onto the face.”

1. A small amount of cat eye discharge is probably nothing to worry about.

“While technically a normal eye should not have any ocular discharge, a small amount of clear discharge, which may dry and appear slightly brown and crusty, may be OK,” Dr. Kimmitt says. Seeing morning eye boogers on your cat? This type of cat eye discharge probably isn’t a cause for alarm.

2. Some breeds are more prone to things like cat eye boogers.

Due to the shape of the face, PersiansHimalayans and other cats with short noses and large, round eyes (brachycephalic cat breeds) are more susceptible to cat eye discharge. This might be normal, but if your cat’s eye discharge is excessive, ask your vet.

3. Some cat eye discharge warrants a trip to the vet.

Yellow or green eye discharge is not normal — if your cat has colored discharge, make a vet appointment as soon as possible. “If there is enough discharge that you have to wipe your pet’s eye(s) more than one to two times daily, or if your cat is squinting or frequently rubbing at his eye(s), or if the eye(s) look red, he should be seen by a veterinarian,” Dr. Kimmitt says. When it comes to your cat eye discharge and other eye issues, don’t delay making that vet appointment — your cat’s eyes and eyesight might depend on it.

4. Many things can cause abnormal cat eye discharge.

Cat eye discharge is a sign of many different eye diseases and disorders, including corneal ulcersconjunctivitis and entropion (an eyelid that rolls inward, allowing the hairs on the skin to irritate the eye). Your veterinarian will examine your cat and possibly perform certain tests to find out what exactly is causing your cat’s eye discharge.

5. It’s important to keep your cat’s eye area clean.

Use a soft, wet cloth to gently wipe away any discharge. “There are also a variety of veterinary products available to help clean around the eyes,” Dr. Kimmitt says. “Just be sure to find one that is labeled as safe to be used around the eyes, and avoid any product that contains alcohol.”

Tell us: Have you ever dealt with cat eye boogers or watery cat eyes? What are your tips and tricks for handling cat eye discharge? Let us know!

Struggling with eye discharge yourself? Could one of these eye infections be at play? >>

This piece was originally published in 2017.

Thumbnail: Photography by Warapatr_s/

Read more on your cat’s eyes:

112 thoughts on “Cat Eye Discharge — What’s Normal and What’s Not”

  1. My cat has had eye boogers that I have to wipe away every 1-2 days. She is 7 years old. I can tell that she likes when I wipe them off because she doesn’t even resist me doing it. I bet it feels so good to have someone do that for you when you are physically incapable of doing it yourself.

    1. What about the cat's body action? Is he facing towards you, or away? Is the tail curled, or lying flat against the floor?

      Depending on these points, "meow" could mean "let's watch a movie together" or "boy am I thirsty right now."

      So getting the tone and body language right is critical!

      Finally there’s a quick guide on the bare essentials of cat communication to give you a starting point into the fascinating world of feline communication, both verbal and nonverbal

      This guide, written by a PhD animal communications expert, will help you learn a few things your cat tries to tell you every day – that you're almost certainly ignoring right now.

      Check it out here: ( ) ( copy link and put it in your browser )

  2. I usually wipe my cats eyes with warm chamomile tea and let it soak a bit. I’ve had a few kittens with this problem and that always been a to help

  3. I do not want to gross anyone out, but I’d like to share my experience, this took place with the last litter from our rescues. One of the kittens started thriving less, she showed less appetite, I immediately knew something was wrong. It isn’t uncommon for a kitten to get a cold in one or both eyes, as this kitten did. The problem was I’d wipe them with a warm wet rag, and she’d go to sleep, and when she woke up, she could not see, her eyes were crusted shut.
    The first time it happened, I practically soaked a rag in warm water, and then compressed it lightly over the eye, to loosen this crust.
    As soon as it worked and she could open her eye, all of a sudden this bright greenish discharge, began pouring from her eye. I can’t even begin to describe, it was streaming from her eye.
    The first thing I thought was she had an infection, it continued happening throughout the day. Finally I was able to get some amoxicillin, and before the day was through, the eye issue had subsided.

    Now I’m going to be straight up with all of you, if any of you experience a kitten not eating, it is very likely it could be respiratory related even if you don’t see or hear anything. A kitten can turn fast, so if you have plans to get a kitten, be sure to always have amoxicillin in your home. That stuff saves lives. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this without having lost two of my own, my hearts.

    I also want to make known, exposure to mold, especially with poor or no ventilation, can be a death trap for your kitties. I prefer to make people aware, because, I can’t afford to run to the Vet every time there’s a problem. Vets are now over pricing all of their services.

    1. I have been feeding some stray cats on my porch. One of them appears to be sick though. He will, however, let me pet and love on him. He has a lot of thick, green pus coming from both eyes. He also coughs & sneezes randomly. In this last week I've noticed that he doesn't seem to be very interested in eating at all. I have become very attached to him. I don't have the funds to take him to a vet. Not sure what kind of sick he is…can you please help?

  4. Taunta Mcahren

    My cats right eye has been watering and he sneezes a lot sometimes when he sneezes bloody burgers come out. Should I be worried?

  5. I think my cat has Cat Flu, he has one teary eye with clear water tunning down. It comes and goes, but it has been happening for months.
    Does anyone have experience with cat flu?

    1. my cat is doing the same thing. its not yellow or green, its just watery and some goop. He acts fine and doesnt seem sick, so I’m not sure what it is.

      I’m wondering if there is a home remedy? my cat HATES the vet

  6. My cat has never had it before and has it only in one eye it got dry and stuck and couldn’t open her eye what can I do

    1. Use a wet, warm compress to put on the cats eye and soften the crusty pit. After holding it there for a bit (1 minute or so, as long as your cat will tolerate), you should be able to wipe away the crusts. You should also see a vet if the discharge is this excessive, gets worse I.e. yellow/green colors, strong smells, or red eye, or does not clear up in a week.

  7. One of my cats has a ton of discharge. I call them “crusties” and I tell him I need to pick his crusties and he will sit still and let me. He’s had them ever since we got him and his brother has them occasionally too. It’s usually in the morning but he can have some in the afternoon if he sleeps for a while. They’re orange tabbies and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either one of them. Me picking them doesn’t seem to bother him, he’s gotten very used to it

  8. Pingback: How Can I Treat My Cat’s Eye Infection At Home

    1. How much tea should I try in her wet food? She eats only a dollop twice a day with crunchies in between. She’s very difficult to catch to take to the vet.

      1. Don’t let your cat eat tea leaves or drink tea. Both can be severely poisonous to cats, instead pour the tea on a cloth and gently press against her eye.

      1. You make a chamomille tea, when it gets warm /cold (don’t burn your cat!) you dip a cotton pad and apply it on the eye, making smooth compress movements. Make sure the tea gets in the ‘tear discharge’ corner of the eye, so it cleans and unblock it.
        Same method as for humans, I did it in my eye a couple of times, try it and you will understand how to clean your cat’s eye.

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