Tear Stains in Cats

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    Features

    • Tear staining occurs when the cat's eyes water continuously. As the tears fall down the cat's face, they can combine with bacteria on the cat's fur and then dry to a reddish brown or pink crust. While tear staining is typically cosmetic and harmless on its own, it can indicate issues that are harmful to your cat.

    Causes

    • There are many things that may cause tear staining in a cat. The cat's eye might not be draining well, or it might have abnormally small duct openings. Or the cat's tear duct system might be inflamed, which leads to overenthusiastic tear production. Very rarely, the tears may be a result of a foreign body lodged within the cat's tear duct.

    Consequences

    • Tear overflow and the resulting dry crust that appears on the cat's face can cause some issues for the cat over time. The area around the eye may come to be irritated by the crust, and this can lead to an infection or skin lesions. Any signs of infection should be examined by a veterinarian.

    Treatment

    • In cases where the issue is caused by a malformation of the tear duct or where the structure of the eyelid is preventing good drainage, surgery may correct this issue. Because the cat's fur can act as a wick, leading to more tears on the cat's face, you may choose to trim back the cat's facial hair. Trimming back the hair will help keep the area clean and reduce the tears that end up on the cat's face. The veterinarian also may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to help heal irritated skin underneath the tear stains.

    Prevention

    • To prevent tear staining in a cat, check the cat's eyes on a regular basis and, when necessary, clip back the longer hairs near the cat's face. You may also ask your veterinarian to recommend a product that will help remove the tear staining if your cat turns out to be prone to this problem.

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