What Causes My Cat’s Black Eye and Nose Discharge? Is it Gingivitis or Stomatitis?

CatChannel and CAT FANCY veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, advises a cat owner on what a cat's eye discharge could be, and whether a cat's teeth problems play a part in it.

Q: My female 12-year-old, all-white Maine Coon cat has had many health issues. She has had her teeth pulled twice, the first time the doctor left the four front teeth, but 3 years later the stomatitis returned and she had to undergo this procedure again.

Now my cat has developed a black discharge from her eyes and nose. She also coughs more than usual. She still eats well, and doesn’t shy away from her food as she did in the past, but she just seems unhealthy. My cat is terrified to go to the vet, so I hesitate to put her through that. Do you have any suggestions?

A: I believe your cat has two separate issues. Cat gingivitis and stomatitis that is severe enough to warrant full-mouth extraction is a pretty serious issue, and can certainly cause poor appetite and unkempt appearance. It sounds like your cat’s stomatitis, however, is under control.

I’m not sure what the black ocular and nasal discharge is, but I’m concerned about the cough. You say she’s coughing “more than usual,” which suggests that she’s been coughing for a while, but lately it’s gotten even worse. Cats shouldn’t cough at all. Your cat may have asthma, bronchitis, heartworm disease or any number of other possible causes for coughing.  

All cats find it stressful to visit the veterinarian. There’s no way around that. Cats shouldn’t be deprived of veterinary care because of this. You need to see your vet, and an X-ray of your cat’s lungs needs to be taken. Your vet may also want to perform a few blood tests, such as a complete blood count and perhaps a heartworm test.

Whether or not the ocular and nasal discharge is related to the cough is difficult for me to say without examining the cat. Your vet will have to make that assessment.  Depending on the diagnosis, your vet can prescribe the appropriate medication (corticosteroids for asthma, antibiotics for infectious bronchitis, etc.).

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Cats · Health and Care