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.

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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