Epiphora in cats: symptoms, cause, treatment and prevention


When the cat presents a tearing, we speak of epiphora. The causes are very diverse and therefore, the cat can show different symptoms. Sometimes commonplace, the epiphora can also unfortunately be serious, depending on its origin but also the lack of speed of its management. This is why it is strongly recommended to turn to a veterinarian without delay if you notice an epiphora in your little protégé because in any case you should not opt ​​for self-medication. A cat’s eyes are organs that must be protected at all costs. Let’s take stock of the epiphora, a eye discharge in cats which should never be neglected.

Epiphora in cats: symptoms that should alert

The term epiphora refers to tearing that flows from the inner corner of one eye or both eyes, and these secretions are, according to the cases, purulent, thick or clear and liquid like water. This lacrimation is very often accompanied by other quite variable symptoms since they depend on the cause. Epiphora alone requires a consultation, knowing that the cat can also present other signs such as:

  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Red eyes,
  • Glued eyes,
  • Nictation, that is to say very frequent blinking of the eyelids,
  • Fever,
  • Eye pain,
  • A state of depression,
  • A runny nose (runny nose),
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Ulcers in the mouth …

We can often see that the cat is constantly looking for to rub one or both eyes, either because he is in pain, or because he feels localized discomfort. To relieve himself, he rubs his eyes with a paw or even against a corner of a wall, a piece of furniture, a door, a tree trunk … Moreover, by dint of being wet, the hairs that are in the path discharge becomes darker and the skin suffers as well. Thepermanent humidity of the area can lead to eye inflammation and / or skin infection.

Epiphora: causes in cats

There are different causes of a discharge from the eye called an epiphora. None should be trivialized because in some cases, the little feline may suffer from complications.

A trauma

Claws in the eye during brawls between tomcats, spikelets or other foreign body, shock are all traumas that can cause eye tearing in cats. Traumatic epiphora can cause corneal inflammation and ulceration.

The anatomy of the cat

At the brachycephalic cats, the epiphora is more common than in other cats, because of the anatomy of their face, in particular because of their short nose (crushed) or the shape of their eyelids. This does not mean that the tear duct is blocked, but the tears have difficulty accessing the drainage system which normally allows their flow to the nasal and oral cavities of the small feline.

Epiphora may also be caused by wrong position of an eyelash (if it grows inwards for example) or an entropion. These abnormalities expose the cornea to friction and, consequently, cause it to become inflamed. A corneal ulcer can result.

Inflammation of the conjunctiva

The inside of the eyelids is covered with a mucous membrane called the conjunctiva. In the event of inflammation, an epiphora can manifest itself. Many allergic cats or too often exposed to toxic products aerosols exhibit this type of inflammation.

A bacterial or viral infection

Many diseases are the cause of epiphora in cats. The cause is:

  • Is bacterial : among the bacteria incriminated we find for example Chlamydophila, Bordetella, Mycoplasma,
  • Is viral : the pathogens can be among others Calicivirus, Herpesvirus, Reovirus …

For example, a cat which presents a coryza (due to Calcivirus), the eye tearing becomes important, but the symptoms are numerous and it is fundamental that the owner takes his small animal to the veterinarian as quickly as possible because coryza can be fatal in the absence of support.

Epiphora in cats: treatment

The owner can be tempted to quickly relieve his cat by instilling eye drops in the tearful eye, but this is completely prohibited. Giving eye drops to your cat without a veterinarian’s prescription can make the problem worse. At the most, he can clean the eyes of his little companion with a very specific lotion purchased in pharmacies and only for these purposes. Its use must be of very short duration, that is to say while waiting for the veterinarian to examine the cat.

It seems fundamental to us to emphasize here that it is not desirable to opt for self-medication, whatever the reason. On the contrary, it is necessary consult the vet as soon as possible so that the cause of the epiphora is clearly identified and this is so regardless of the problem a cat is suffering from. Thus, the necessary treatment will be prescribed according to the diagnosis and the results of the various examinations deemed necessary by the animal health specialist.

To avoid exposing your cat to risk of eye damage, the animal must therefore be subjected to a strict veterinary control which is based, in this specific case, on a in-depth ophthalmologic examination. If he deems it necessary, the practitioner may decide to carry out additional examinations in order to confirm his diagnosis.

Following this, he prescribed a case-by-case treatment, For example :

  • Eye drops,
  • A specific lotion to be administered directly in the eye or in both eyes, knowing that it is advisable to wipe the drops which flow along the muzzle of the cat with a sterile compress. The use of cotton wool is not recommended because fine filaments may remain in the eye of the animal,
  • An antibiotic if the epiphora is of bacterial origin only,
  • A temporary suture of the third eyelid so that the eye concerned is kept closed if the cat suffers from a serious corneal ulcer, which must absolutely heal,
  • A surgical operation, usually decided for complex cases.

When this proves to be essential, the cat must be equipped with a collar so he can’t scratch his eyes. After a few days or weeks, according to the veterinarian’s recommendations, a new consultation is necessary so that the practitioner can check the state of health of his little patient.

Tearing or epiphora in cats: prevention

Regarding the prevention of epiphora in cats, it is possible in many cases and it often makes good sense.

It is necessary vaccinate your kitten as soon as possible and ensure that the vaccine boosters so that the vaccination record is perfectly up to date, including in adult cats. The owner must also regularly check the eyes of his cat, in particular when the kitty comes back from a wandering in nature because the risks of foreign bodies are numerous in these conditions. Likewise, we avoid letting our cat roam in order to limit the opportunities that it fights with its congeners. And of course, we do not use allergenic products with our cat and we have an entropion treated as quickly as possible.