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cat tear stains

Cat Tear Stains: How to deal with feline “sad eyes”?

Table of contents:

What is epiphora?

Epiphora in cats is excessive tearing from your cat’s eyes. Epiphora is a symptom rather than a disease. It may indicate an underlying condition. Normally, tears are colorless, but they can dry to a dark reddish brown color due to the pigments they contain. It can also be the dampness in corners of eyes. Sometimes it will cause nasty odor or even infection.   

What causes epiphora?

So what causes cat eye stains? According to Doctors of Veterinary Medicine Ryan Llera and Ernest Ward, “the most common cause of insufficient tear drainage is a blockage of the nasolacrimal ducts or poor eyelid function due to a deformity.” Normally, tears from a healthy eye would go into the inner corner of the eye and drain through the tear ducts into the throat. A cat suffered from epiphora may lack of proper tear drainage. The tear film fails to enter the duct and simply rolls off the face.

Some breeds are prone to have teary eyes. Cats with flat face and small nose (brachycephalic cats) often display more tear stains. For example, Exotic Shorthair, Persian, Burmese and Himalayans usually have reddish brown streaks under their eyes.

Other common causes of cat eye stains include:

  • conjunctivitis;
  • eye infections;
  • injuries;
  • corneal ulcers;
  • abnormal eyelashes or eyelids;
  • glaucoma.

how to clean tear stains

How to treat epiphora?

If your kitty suddenly, excessively tear and doesn’t stop within 24 hours, you should visit the vet. Treatment will depend on whether your cat’s nasolacrimal duct is blocked or another eye condition is diagnosed.

“If the nasolacrimal duct is suspected of being blocked, your cat will be anesthetized and a special instrument will be inserted into the duct to flush out the contents. If chronic infections or allergies have caused the ducts to become narrowed, flushing may help widen them.”

If it is due to another eye condition such as infection, allergic or conjunctivitis, your vet might perform a saline flush to help eliminate any foreign materials. They will provide home care medication including ointment, antibiotic drops or eye drops to be applied directly to your cat’s eye. 

For cases of abnormal eyelashes or eyelids, or other damage to the structure of your cat’s eyes, there might be a surgical procedure.

epiphora causes

How to clean tear stains?

So you want to learn how to clean tear stains? Avoid using products containing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, fragrance. These products may cause damage to your feline’s eyes.

Here are some of the suggested approach:

  • Trim the hair around your cat’s eyes;
  • Go to a professional groomer regularly;
  • Try a different diet;
  • Probiotics can help. Some of the supplements intended for intestinal health can actually reduce or eliminate tear staining (advice from DVM Patty Khul);
  • Use a dab of vaseline in the area that accumulates the most tears. This may keep it from staining the hair (advice from DVM Patty Khul);
  • Consider the use of one or more different commercial wipes designed to keep the area clean and stain-free (advice from DVM Patty Khul).

Wipes for cats is a non-alcohol deep cleansing product perfect for pets with tear stains. The safe yet powerful antimicrobial ingredient Hypoclorous Acid can sanitize germs that come from eye infections, irritation, injuries, allergies, etc. 


what causes cat eye stains

It is shaped like a wearable five-finger glove, you can easily use it to wipe around your cat’s eyes and simply remove the stubborn dark tear stains. It is completely safe for sensitive areas and totally friendly for pet’s eyes. The solution can also soothe irritation and relieve itching caused by infections.

cat eye stains causes

Usually, epiphora is not life-threatening. But we should always provide proper hygiene for our fur baby’s face to maintain healthy eyes condition and prevent infections.

Please note that the information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. We are not veterinarians, and the content shared here should not be considered professional veterinary advice.

If you have any questions regarding copyrights or the use of materials in this article, please contact us for clarification.



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