Guide to Clean Cat Tear Stains (Epiphora in Cats)

icon May 24, 2023

What is Epiphora in Cats?

Epiphora in cats refers to excessive tearing or watery eyes, also called cat tear stains is a condition characterized by an overflow of tears that can lead to wetness and staining of the fur around the eyes. Epiphora can affect one or both eyes and can be a symptom of an underlying issue or an isolated problem. However, this condition should not be easily ignored, as it may indicate a more serious medical problem.

Epiphora in Cats

Why Does My Cat Have Tear Stains?

Several factors can contribute to the development of tear stains in cats:

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Environmental exposures (secondhand smoke, etc.)

  • Eye infections

  • Allergies

  • Eyelid conformation: Cats with certain eyelid abnormalities, such as entropion or ectropion, have an altered eyelid position that can disrupt the normal flow of tears. This can result in excessive tearing and subsequent staining.

  • Facial structure: Some cats with flat faces or short noses, such as Persians or Himalayans, may be predisposed to tear staining due to their unique facial anatomy. The shape of their faces can lead to the accumulation of tears around the eyes and subsequent staining.

  • Blocked tear ducts: Cats have tear ducts that drain tears from the eyes into the nasal cavity. If these ducts become blocked or narrowed, tears may accumulate and result in epiphora.

What is The Color of the Cat's Eye Discharge?

Cat Eye Discharge Drown

When a cat's tear stains turn reddish brown, it does not necessarily mean that the cat has a lesion in the eye. Veterinarians say that in addition to the color of the tear stains, the amount of tear stains and the presence of large amounts of eye stool should be observed to determine localized eye lesions in cats.

If the cat produces tear stains very badly every day, it is likely to be caused by blocked nasolacrimal ducts or congenital dysplasia of the nasolacrimal ducts; if the cat has excessive red-brown eye droppings, it is likely to be due to infection with certain infectious diseases, such as herpes virus infection, culex virus, feline chlamydia, etc. In this case, if not treated in time, the cat's tear stains are likely to become dark brown and more serious.

Cat Eye Discharge White

A clear or white discharge from a cat's eyes is generally considered normal and is part of the natural tear production. However, if the discharge becomes excessive, thick, or mucus-like, it could indicate an underlying issue such as an infection, allergies, or a blocked tear duct.

Cat Eye Discharge Yellow

Yellow eye discharge in cats can be a sign of infection. It may indicate the presence of bacteria or pus, suggesting conjunctivitis or other types of eye infections. Other accompanying symptoms may include redness, swelling, and discomfort.


Cat Eye Discharge Green

Green eye discharge in cats can also be indicative of an infection. It is commonly associated with a bacterial infection called "green pus" conjunctivitis. This condition requires prompt veterinary attention to determine the cause and initiate appropriate treatment.

Cat Eye Discharge

How to Clean Cat Tear Stains?

  • Prepare the necessary supplies, including a clean washcloth or soft cotton pad, warm water, and a mild, cat-safe cleanser.

  • Dampen the washcloth or cotton pad with warm water.

  • Gently hold your cat's head steady and use the moistened cloth or pad to wipe the tear stains.

  • Repeat if necessary

  • After cleaning the tear stains, use a dry and clean cloth or towel to gently pat the fur around the eyes dry. Ensure that the area is completely dry to prevent any moisture buildup, which could exacerbate the issue.

Herbs considered safe for cats that can be used to clean tear stains include boric acid, witch hazel, echinacea, licorice root, cat's claw and dandelion root. 

Do not use human products on cats without first consulting your veterinarian; this includes topical apple cider vinegar, magnesium oxide lotion, makeup remover, Gold Bond, corn syrup, hydrogen peroxide, bleach or harsh or irritating substances such as human eye drops as they may be harmful to the cat's eyes.


How is Epiphora Treated?

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. In some cases, the lacrimal puncta or opening may have failed to open during your cat's development, and if this is the case, it can be surgically opened during this procedure. If chronic infections or allergies have caused the ducts to become narrowed, flushing may help widen them.

If the cause is related to another eye condition, treatment will be directed at the primary cause which may include surgery.

How Do I Get Rid of My Cats Tear Stains?

  • Treat underlying health issues: If your cat has an underlying health condition contributing to the tear stains, such as an eye infection or allergies, follow your veterinarian's treatment recommendations. This may involve medications, eye drops, or other interventions to address the specific issue.

  • Use a soft, clean cloth or cotton pad dampened with warm water to gently wipe away the tear stains. 

  • Prevent eye irritation: Minimize potential irritants that could cause excessive tearing. Keep your cat's environment clean, free from dust, and well-ventilated. Avoid using harsh chemicals or strong fragrances around your cat, as they can irritate the eyes.

  • Other best practices to improve the overall health of cats, including eye health, are to feed a high-quality, balanced diet.

  • Providing fresh, filtered drinking water rather than tap water (which may be high in minerals or iron)

  • Use stainless steel, porcelain or glass instead of plastic food and water bowls.

Medication Recommendations

Trust veterinarian's recommendation for tear stain removal solutions, including internal conditioning and external treatments, to expedite the removal of unsightly tear stains for your beloved furry companion.

59a000b994e540abbe2084863f1f673e.webpWhite dog/cats that are suffering from unsightly tear stains need a little extra love. Our potent Puainta tablets contain ingredients that reduce or eliminate tear stains and also treat bad breath, increased eye discharge, yellow urine, and mouth ulcers.

Helps dissolve compounds discharged from the eyes and eliminate colored dirt such as tear stains

Be of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory functions to clear eye fever, toxin, swelling and pain in eyes

Reduce excess secretions due to the obstruction of the nasolacrimal duct


If your pet has tear stains, don't be quick to dismiss them as excessive tear production. Sometimes, there is much more than what is seen and heard. The only way to be sure is to schedule a visit to a veterinary hospital. This way, you can rule out any possibility of an underlying disease. If an underlying medical condition does exist, it can be treated promptly.

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