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

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.
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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?

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“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/Thinkstock.com.

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

  1. 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?

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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. 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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