Eye boogers, those pesky little blobs often found in the corners of our eyes when we wake up, are one of life’s little annoyances — and they’re not just for humans. Our feline friends can also get eye boogers, and if you’ve ever gazed into your cat’s eyes only to find not-so-cute gunk, you’ve likely wondered how best to get rid of this pesky stuff. We got the scoop on what exactly, cat eye boogers are and how to treat them from a vet.
What are cat eye boogers?
Cat eye boogers and human eye boogers are surprisingly similar, says Dr. Ray Spragley, a veterinarian at Zen Dog Vet. “Cat eye boogers are a mixture of dried tears and mucus that accumulates in the corner of the eye. They are the same as human eye boogers that may be present in the morning,” he says. However, there is one key difference: “Cat’s tears have pigment in them, which causes their eye boogers to be darker than the ones humans have.”
Why cats have eye boogers
“It is normal for cats to have a small amount of eye boogers,” says Dr. Spragley. Some cat breeds may be more prone to getting them than others, he adds, particularly flat-faced breeds like Persians and Himalayans. In general, cats get gunk for the same reasons humans do, as they’ll often wake up with a bit of goop around their peepers — just like us!
How to clean cat eye boogers
Cats are known for being pros at cleaning themselves, and they can often get rid of eye crusties on their own. If your cat misses a booger, or has ones that seem particularly persistent, you can easily clean them yourself. Dr. Spragley recommends using a cotton ball that has been moistened with a few drops of warm water to gently wipe them away, making sure to move downwards, away from the eye. “It is very important to not touch the eye itself,” he adds. “Touching the eyeball can cause a corneal ulceration which may require a trip to the vet.”
Sometimes, excess cat eye boogers may be caused be an upper respiratory virus. In this instance, Dr. Spragley says the amino acid supplement L-lysine is an effective remedy, as “It may minimize the amount of eye boogers while helping to clear the virus as well.”
When to be concerned about cat eye boogers
Cat eye boogers are usually normal, but in rare cases there may be cause for concern. “If the eye boogers are changing in consistency, the cat is pawing at their eyes, there is swelling around their eyes, or the cat is squinting, it is likely there is an underlying eye issue,” says Dr. Spragley. “Cats can have excessive eye boogers from upper respiratory infections, foreign material entering the eyes, corneal ulcerations from scratches, and excessive tearing.” If your cat’s eyes are getting more gunky than usual and they seem to have discomfort around the area, it’s worth getting them checked out by a professional.
Eye boogers may not be your cat’s cutest feature, but that doesn’t mean they’re anything to fear. Unless you notice a change in your cat’s eye boogers or anything else unusual having to do with your cat’s eyes, it’s safe to assume there isn’t any issue with them, and if they become a bother you can even remove them yourself.
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