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Home > Cats > Why Are My Cat’s Eyes Watering? 7 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Why Are My Cat’s Eyes Watering? 7 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Eye discharge in old brown cat.Feline Upper Respiratory Infections

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Have you noticed that your cat’s eyes have been watery lately? Wondering why that is? Well, much like a human’s eye, a cat’s eye has an outer layer of moisture that’s there to wash away dirt and debris—in other words, it produces tears. This moisture layer also keeps a cat’s eye from drying out.

So, your pet having a bit of water in its eye isn’t all that unusual—unless it happens often or you see something else like red eyes or irritation. Then, it could be a case outside the norm (though not necessarily something to be seriously concerned about). So why are your cat’s eyes watering?

There are several reasons your cat’s eyes will water more than usual, so keep reading to learn all about them!


The 7 Reasons Why Your Cat’s Eyes Are Watering

1. Breed Prone to Tearing

If your cat has tear stains under the eyes a lot, it may be because it is a breed prone to tearing. Breeds prone to having these stains are most often those with brachycephalic (aka having a squished face due to bones and nose being shorter than what’s normal for most felines). Cats with this facial deformity have tear ducts that are unable to drain properly, which results in constant tear staining. So, if your cat is a Burmese, Persian, or Himalayan, then this is likely why your pet’s eyes are watering all the time.

Striped gray black Persian ca
Image Credit: 99mimimi, Pixabay

2. Allergies

Felines can have allergic reactions to environmental stimuli just like we can, so if your pet’s watering eyes also seem glassy or irritated, this could be why. Your cat might also be sneezing or seem incredibly itchy if it’s allergies that are occurring. What types of things might your kitty be allergic to? Like us, your cat can be allergic to cleaning products, pollen, mites, dust, mildew, mold, beauty products you use, etc. If allergies seem like the likely cause of your pet’s watering eyes, a vet visit might be in order.

3. Upper Respiratory Infection

Does your cat seem as if it feels unwell in general? Is it also experiencing a runny nose or lots of sneezing, as well as watering eyes? Then your pet could have an upper respiratory infection. Luckily, most upper respiratory issues will resolve themselves within seven days, but it is very important to keep an eye on your cat for other signs. If the cat is lethargic or looks anxious, is not eating normally, or sounds very congested, making an appointment with your vet would be ideal, as your pet could need medical treatment.

vet holding the scottish fold cat in a veterinary clinic
Image Credit: Alice Rodnova, Shutterstock

4. Eye Infection

Rather than an upper respiratory infection, your feline pal may have a bacterial eye infection, causing wateriness. If this is the case, then along with the watery eyes, you’ll see green or yellow discharge. These infections can become serious, so if you think this is the reason for your cat’s watery eyes, it’s essential to get it to the vet as soon as possible. Left untreated, your kitty could suffer from complications and even vision loss.

5. Pink Eye

One kind of eye infection, in particular, your cat may experience that causes watery eyes is pink eye. In fact, pink eye is one of the most common eye infections in felines and can be brought on by all sorts of things, including the feline herpes virus, allergies, and dust. And most causes of pink eye are contagious, so if you have multiple cats, you’ll want to keep the one with pink eye away from the others until the infection has cleared up (and though you can’t catch pink eye from your pet, you can transfer it from one cat to another by petting the sick cat, then another). Pink eye must be treated by a vet as it won’t go away on its own.

close up cat with pink eye
Image Credit: KAY4YK, Shutterstock

6. Something in the Eye or Damage to the Cornea

Have you noticed your kitty blinking excessively, squinting, or rubbing its eye with its paws frequently along with watery eyes? Then there may be something lodged in your pet’s eye causing irritation. These foreign bodies can be dust, plant-related, dirt, grass seeds, or similar minute items. And if not removed, then these could lead to damage to the cornea, such as a scratch or even an ulcer; plus, your pet could hurt its eye by pawing or scratching at it. This is an instance where a vet visit is definitely in order.

7. Glaucoma

Watery eyes can also be a symptom of feline glaucoma. This eye disease can also cause the eyeball to swell and appear as if it’s slightly bulging, as well as a lot of pain for your pet. So, if your cat’s watery eye also seems swollen or red and irritated and your pet seems as if it’s hurting, this could be the reason. If you believe your kitty is suffering from glaucoma, it’s important to get them to your vet immediately. Glaucoma can get progressively worse quickly and cause damage to your cat’s eyesight.

vet checking cat's eyes
Image Credit: santypan, Shutterstock



Your cat’s eyes may be watering for a few different reasons, some of which aren’t so serious, some of which are. Certain breeds like Persians may be more likely to have watery eyes. Pay attention to any other unusual behavior or symptoms your kitty is exhibiting, such as sneezing excessively, eye discharge, lethargy, or loss of appetite, to help ascertain whether your pet needs a visit to the vet. If you’re unsure how serious your feline’s watery eyes are, though, it’s advisable to go ahead and schedule a vet visit to ensure nothing is terribly wrong.

Featured Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

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