Cat Has Sleepy, Watery Eyes

CatChannel veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, questions whether eye wipes are a proper solution for the cat's eye problem.

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Q: My 3-year-old cat, Chausie, has a problem with her eyes. She’s had watery "sleep" coming from her eyes for a while, but I was advised just to buy special eye wipes for cats. As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to actually access her eyes, but I’ve kept at it.

Lately, I’ve noticed that the gunk coming from her eyes has gotten darker and more filmy below her eye. At this point, she’s fed up and will not let me clean them with the wipes anymore. What could be the problem or cause? Could it be her long winter coat irritating her eyes? She sneezes a lot, too. She is eating normally, drinking LOADS of water and resting/hiding a lot.

A: I’m wondering who advised you to buy eye wipes for your cat? If it was your vet, then I will assume that your vet examined the cat, determined that the eye gunk is just that— gunk — and recommended the wipes. You didn’t say what breed your cat is, although you alluded to a long winter coat, so I assume this is a long-haired cat. If this is a Persian cat or another flat-faced breed, then this may indeed by some harmless eye discharge due to hairs on the face coming into contact with the cornea. 

If, however, the recommendation for the eye wipes came from a friend or from someone at a pet store, then I would take your cat to your veterinarian promptly. Your cat may have conjunctivitis secondary to an upper respiratory infection (URI). You said your cat was sneezing, which does suggest a URI. Your cat may require antibiotic drops for the eyes, as well as oral medications, depending on the exam findings. 

Another reason you should see your veterinarian is the fact that your cat is drinking “LOADS,” as you describe it. Excessive thirst (and urination) can be a sign of illness, and even though your cat, at 3 years of age, would be slightly young for the common causes of excessive thirst (diabetes, renal failure), it too should be checked by your vet.

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Reader Comments

susan    sanford, FL

10/4/2010 5:59:55 PM

Hi my name is Susan, I have a kitten.. He's I believe nine weeks old.. Just today I noticed that his left eye was really watery, and he looks sleepy.. He still is very playful and into everything but it really concerns me because I do not know what is going on with him and if he is getting sick..Can you please help me to better understand what may be going on with my kitten?

Margie Rice    Fremont, CA

3/3/2010 11:01:47 PM

Hi everyone!! The forum here is terrific. I appreciate all and any information before I go spend some money on my cat. I'm not a cheap person, its just that I know that some home remedies with a little common sense can go far.
As for cats or kittens having some dishcharge in their eyes ---- treat them like you would your children.........and like a infant that has a cold....which is.... clean their eyes with a warm wash cloth and then keep an "eye" on them so to speak to see if the discharge changes color they say clear is good, don't worry to much, could be allergies or their fighting some type of germ, see if their immune system will take care of it (feed them some healthy food) after supervising them you find that the discharge changes to a vanilla color(off white) or't be cheap, take them in to the vet. I have 3 cats and 2 dogs, I'm not kidding, take them in , if you don't, it could spread to your other pets(if you have any) and also,(I feel) that it is not very nice to your pet, who just loves you unconditionally to pieces. Take Care, and I hope you all take what I've said into consideration.

joanna    pennsauken, NJ

8/21/2008 6:47:56 PM

hi ,myname is joanna , i was reading some of what people have ritten on here about there cats having watery eyes , and my cat also has the same problem, is is still young im not to sure how old she is ,but she is still baby . but her eye is watery and has gunt also coming from it, and its abit smaller then normal when this happens, what i am doing is whiping it with , som ehot water but not to hot ,, is that good or do you think i should take her in to be check,,

aidelia    ny, NY

6/15/2008 4:21:42 AM

my kitten faced the same probs too.watery eyes on the left side only...poor my kitty

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