Home Cat Health How To Remove Tear Stains From A Cat

How To Remove Tear Stains From A Cat


Epiphora is the veterinary term for excessive tear production. It's the most common cause of tear stains in cats. Most pet owners will have to deal with this, and I'll explain how to remove tear stains from a cat naturally or with the use of cat tear stain products.

If your cat suffers from excessive tear staining or the condition starts suddenly, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. This condition is typically the result of insufficient drainage of the tear film from the eye. It could be linked to a blockage of the nasolacrimal ducts or reduced eyelid function due to a deformity.

While it's probably no cause for serious concern, it's best to mention this problem at your next vet appointment, and have your cat's eyes examined just to be on the safe side. Genetics aside, other factors can cause tear stains in cats including the environment, owner's actions or a health condition. For example, cats exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have tear stains.

Medical conditions that can cause tear staining in cats include:

  • Ingrown eyelashes
  • Larger than normal tear glands
  • Smaller than normal tear duct opening
  • Glaucoma and other eye diseases
  • Eye infections
  • Ear infections

Unless the condition begins suddenly or seems to be getting progressively worse, there is no need for concern. Check in with your veterinarian if you're worried, but I would recommend mentioning it at your next annual vet visit.

How To Remove Tear Stains From A Cat

How To Remove Tear Stains From CatsSupplies You'll Need

  • Cat eye wash (I use Ark Naturals)
  • Cotton balls
  • Wash cloth (optional)
  • Dry shampoo (optional – I use Vet's Best)

Regular Cleaning to Remove Tear Stains in Cats

When learning how to remove tear stains from cats naturally, keep a schedule and stick to it. If your cat has excessive tear staining, you may need to clean his eyes daily. If it's a mild case, you may only need to clean around his eyes a couple of times per week.

Tear stains in cats build up over time, but with regular cleaning your can get rid of the unsightly marks for good. It's quick and easy to clean around your cat's eyes. Just follow these simple instructions:

1. Flush the eyes. The first step is to use a natural cat eye wash or saline solution to flush the eyes. You may want to have a second person with you to help restrain your cat. If your cat is especially squirmy, try wrapping him in a towel and holding the scruff of his neck to keep him still.

2. Remove the stains. After the flush, you'll need to wipe and clean around the eyes. Moisten a cotton ball with the same solution and wipe the tear stained area. If the stains are large, you may need to use multiple cotton balls.

If your pet has tear stains on his muzzle or his nose, you can wash them with dry or waterless shampoo and a wash cloth. Just apply a small amount of the shampoo to the cloth and rub it on the tear stains. These products don't require rinsing, which is ideal for cats as they don't usually like water.
checking cat's eye

How to Prevent Tear Stains on Cats

As with everything, prevention is always better than cure. Even though you now know how to remove tear stains on cats, preventing them will save you the trouble and your cat the stress. Here are a few things you can do:

1. Trim the hair. For cats with longer coats, remember to keep the hair around your pet's eyes trimmed to prevent it from irritating his eyes and causing excessive tearing.

2. Use different water. For severe or excessive tear stains on cats, you can try switching to pure filtered water. Hard water may make this condition worse.

3. Improve drinking water. Some holistic veterinarians recommend adding a teaspoon of white vinegar or buttermilk powder into your cat's water bowl on a daily basis.

4. Food and diet. Like with other conditions in cats, bad diet can worsen the case of tear stains. Good diet can improve or even get rid of tear stains on your cat.Cat foods with high meat content, little to no grains and low carbohydrates will work best.

It's not essential to remove tear stains from your pet. Tear staining likely bothers you a lot more than it bothers your cat. It's unsightly and can be very annoying, but it won't harm your pet. And, if your cat has had tear stains most of his life, then there's really nothing to worry about.

The only time that there is cause for concern is when epiphora is due to an underlying health condition, and the tear staining is usually very excessive at that point. It is also concerning if the excessive tear staining appears suddenly. If this happens, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.

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Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.