Everyone—even cats—gets a little gunk in their eye now and then. The body has a way of flushing out foreign materials and dust that deposits a small amount of discharge in the corner of the eye. However, not all discharge is normal for cats.
Chronic or discolored mucus can be a sign of illness or infection, but it can also be a result of an injury to the eye. If they are not treated properly, eye injuries could be quite severe in cats, so it’s crucial that you identify them quickly and seek medical help when necessary to maintain the health of your cat’s eyes.
Eye injury discharge vs. other causes of discharge
Because eye discharge in cats can be caused by a variety of things, it can be difficult to pinpoint the root of the issue. Thankfully, there are a few things that can help you determine when an injury to the eye has occurred.
Eye mucus is common in cats that are experiencing an illness or virus, such as feline herpes virus. This mucus may be a different color, such as green or yellow. However, it will typically affect both eyes.
If your cat has suffered an eye injury, it may also have some eye discharge. Additionally, eye trauma can lead to eye infections, which can cause more discharge. Trauma-related discharge could be a variety of colors, including green and yellow, as well as white or clear and watery. The difference, however, is that the discharge will typically only occur in the affected eye.
If you notice your cat’s eye discharge but aren’t sure about the cause, you can also determine if your cat is suffering an eye injury by looking for other symptoms.
If mucus is accompanied by any of these other symptoms, an eye injury is likely to blame:
- Sensitivity to light
- Squinting or refusing to open the eye
- Clouded cornea
- Blood in the eye
- Pupils not dilating or uneven
- Swelling of the eye
- Persistent pawing at the eye
If these other symptoms are not present but your cat’s eyes are watery or have discharge, that does not mean you should ignore it. Your cat may be experiencing another issue like conjunctivitis, allergies or a corneal ulcer that your vet should address. All of these things could worsen over time, as well, and pose a risk to your cat’s vision.
Regardless of the cause, you can help your cat clear its watery eyes by wiping away the discharge using a cotton ball dipped in water. Be very careful and gentle when touching around the eye region. If your cat has an injury, especially, it may not want you to go near its eyes and may wriggle away and hide.
About eye injuries in cats
An eye injury can occur when something scrapes or punctures the eye, whether that is a foreign object, a fingernail or something in the environment. In some cases, the foreign object will remain in the eye, which can result in further injury.
Injuries can happen by accident or during altercations with other cats. For example, your cat could accidentally get scratched by a tree branch while outside, another cat could claw your cat during a fight or projectiles and dangerous objects could make their way into your cat’s eye if it gets too close.
Eye injuries can be serious and quickly worsen if they are not addressed. Therefore, if you see your cat displaying symptoms of an injury to the eye, get it to the vet as quickly as you can.
A vet will need to examine the eye injury to determine whether it is a penetration or a perforation. Penetrative injuries do not puncture the cornea or sclera, while perforating injuries do. The latter is much more severe and may have more dire consequences for your cat’s vision.
Your vet will remove the foreign object from the eye if it is still present and treat the injury in the most appropriate way. Some injuries may only require medical drops to keep away infection, reduce swelling and promote healing, while others may require surgery.
Your cat should recover from its eye injury in time, but depending on the severity of the injury, it may need to cope with a slight change or loss in vision. Make sure to watch your cat during the healing process to ensure it does not develop an infection.