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Brown eye discharge in cats

Updated November 21, 2016

A small amount of dark reddish or brown eye discharge in cats is not unusual. Cats normally produce tears that flow down small ducts in the inner corner of their eyes. Like humans, their eyes may crust with dried tears when they sleep. However, if the discharge is thick, does not wipe away easily with a warm, wet cloth, or is noted along with other symptoms, it may be time to take your pet to the vet.

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Conjunctivitis is a herpes viral infection that can cause red, green, yellow or brown eye discharge in pets. This is accompanied by a swollen eyes as the pink part of the cat's eye is inflamed. Conjunctivitis comes in three varieties: Feline Herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1), Feline Mycoplasma and Feline Chlamydia. Feline Mycoplasma and Chlamydia are treated with a topical antibiotic administered as eye drops. FHV-1 cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be treated when it flares.


Epiphora is excessive tearing in felines. It is caused by either an obstruction to the tear drainage ducts in the inner corners of a cat's eyes or because the cat produces more tears than the ducts can successfully drain. In either case, your pet may have a discharge caked in the inner corners of his eyes or streaks down his face. The discharge may range from clear to dark brown and may irritate the face. If the discharge is accompanied by other symptoms or appears chronically, veterinary care is needed for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Although rare in cats, eye discharge can be a symptom of glaucoma. Glaucoma is an inherited condition in which the fluid within the eye does not drain properly and creates excessive pressure on the eye. This can lead to vision problems and blindness. The vet may recommend either medical or surgical treatment.

Feline Uveitis

Uveitis is the inflammation of the pigmented part of the eye surrounding the pupil. Along with excessive tearing, a cat may be sensitive to light and the pigmented part of the eye my appear cloudy. This is a painful condition and can cause blindness if left untreated. Fortunately, many treatment options exist.


Keratitis is the inflammation of the cornea. It can be attributed to a number of causes, including a scratch, and should be diagnosed and treated by a train vet. Along with eye discharge, a cat may be sneezing, have a runny nose, and may run a fever.

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About the Author

Betsy Gallup
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