Cat has brownish red eye discharge

  • 4 yr old cat. Given eyedrops by vet n doesn't need tearduct surgery. One duct blocked. Nose has dried brown discharge. Won't go away

  • Hello, you are through to Dr Linda, a small animal vet with 10 years of clinical experience.

    I'm sorry to hear this and understand your concern for your cat.


    I'd be interested to know what drops they were and what the initial diagnosis was. Discharge like this can have a wide range of causes including:


    • A bacterial or viral conjunctivitis
    • Allergies
    • Oral inflammation
    • An inturned eyelid (entropion)
    • Etc.


    If drops have not resolved the issue, we would consider further testing such as cytology and/or a swab and culture. This way, we can definitively find out what is going on.


    If there is currently inflammation within the tear duct, I'd consider a course of oral anti inflammatories and physically flushing the area to remove any debris or crusting.

  • My cat came inside and her eye is watering and she won't open it all the way. 

  • Hi Pamela, this is Linda the vet.

    I'm sorry to hear about this.


    This could be indicative of a number of things including a foreign body under the eyelid, an eye ulcer or an infection.

    Squinting and a watery discharge tells us the eye is painful.


    It is important we have a vet check the eye so we can determine what is going on.

    Any foreign body would need to be flushed out, while we would also likely prescribe some pain relief and topical antibiotics if needed.

  • Hello there! I found this specific topic and website, after searching Google for one of my cats. Hopefully I can get some type of direction of how to handle this at home until I can afford to take her to a vet. 

    We have two cats at home- a fixed female age 8 and not fixed Male age 6, They are both indoor cats. We went away for the weekend in August and when we returned I noticed my female cat was squinting her left eye and it was very watery, but clear. (Even though they are indoor cats, neighbors cats have gotten into the hallways and both my cats had contracted ear mites and fleas. Both of which we remedied here at home.) I assume it was caused by the male always trying to get her and she puts up a fight with him fighting back. 

    Since then I have wiped her eye and things seemed to be going away until the last two days. The discharge is reddish-brown. I am curious if mites or fleas can cause this? Did the male scratch her or did she scratch herself making it worse? 

    We truly cannot afford what the vet is asking for just yet and I'm just hoping I can do more here at home to help her until we can. Thank you for taking the time to read this! 

  • Hi Amber and thanks for your query.


    As this started last month and has not resolved, this is a concern.


    If your cat has never had this issue before, an ongoing complaint such as an allergy or cat flu is not likely.

    As you suggest, an injury such as a scratch or corneal ucler is certainly possible.

    I'd also wonder about oral inflammation (due to e.g. dental disease or gingivitis), a blocked tear duct or a chronic bacterial infection.


    Fleas or mites should not cause these signs, but it could be that she damaged the eye or transmitted an infection to it when over-grooming due to the itchiness.


    If she rubs or scratches at the eye, protect it by using a buster collar.

    We can continue to gently bathe her eyes with warm, wet cotton wool.

    Keep the air well ventilated and free of any dust, smoke or cooking fumes.


    However, a prompt vet visit is impportant as she may well need e.g. some topical antibiotics or anti inflammatories.

    We'd also want to examine her mouth in case this is a sign of an oral issue.

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