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Why Does My Cat Tear Up When He Eats?

If your cat is tearing up while it eats you may be looking at it confused and wondering why this keeps happening…

Why does my cat tear up when he eats?

There are a few possible causes of excess tears when your cat is eating. In kittens, for instance, it is quite natural. With grown cats, see if the tears are clear. If so, then this may indicate a minor food allergy and you can try different foods to confirm this.

So, now you know. But, why does this happen to kittens? How can I prevent this from happening? Should I take my cat to the vet for this? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Why does my kitten tear up when it eats?

A grey cat eating.

A grey cat eating.

When their salivary glands are active it is not uncommon for kittens to ‘tear up’ when they are eating and these tears help to flush out the young cat’s eyes. Kittens get ‘crusty’ eyes easily and insects may even lay eggs there, but these tears are designed to flush them away so your kitten grows up healthy. 

Can blocked tear ducts cause this?

Finally, tears normally discharge the most through nasal cavities and so it’s possible that your kitty has blocked tear-ducts. This can happen from fighting, allergies, or buildup over time and a quick trip to the vet can help to rule out this possibility.

What does “tear up” mean?

‘Tearing up’ refers to wet spots around the eyes or running down your cat’s face, as if they were crying excessively. While a little is okay, as tear ducts are there to help keep the eyes wet and clean, excessive tearing-up can be a red flag indicating blockage or a food allergy.

Try some different foods and if you are still seeing excess tears, it’s a good time for a visit to the vet.

How can I prevent my cat from tearing up?

Your cat’s tears should clean their eyes over time unless you are dealing with something a little more serious. Start off by managing the symptoms to see if a vet visit is needed. To help your cat with their tears or gummy eyes, wet a cotton ball in slightly warm water and lightly wipe around the eye.

Wipe outward and gently to clean the area and do this a few times each day for a few days to see if it clears up on its own. If it does not, it’s could be allergies, blocked ducts, or even conditions such as an upper-respiratory infection or even pinkeye.

Check with your vet if cleaning the tears doesn’t help the condition to clear naturally and they may prescribe some eye drops or additional medicines to help clear up your cat’s condition.

Should I take my cat to the vet for a watery eye?

A sign post.

A sign post.

A little bit of tearing-up is okay, but if you are seeing excessive tears along with other symptoms such as frequent blinking, gummy eyes, or your cat pawing their face or rubbing it against soft surfaces then an immediate vet visit is in order.

It is possible that the tear ducts are blocked in some fashion or your cat might have dust or other foreign objects trapped in its eyes. Your vet can get it quickly sorted out so that your feline friend can get back to normal, just make sure to visit them right away before any problems can get worse.

Why does my cat cry after eating?

If your cat does this regularly, it might simply indicate that they really like the food. A heavy salivary response can lead to a little tearing-up as well, so it might just mean that your cat really enjoys the meal.

That said, you can’t really ask your cat, and if could also be a minor food allergy, so try a few different foods throughout the week if the tears are not excessive. If your cat is tearing up quite a bit, however, then schedule a vet visit to rule out anything more serious.

With eyes, it’s always best to err on the safe side, so get it checked out ASAP!

What does it mean when a cat’s eyes water?

Runny eyes are most often a sign of allergies. Cats are allergic to a number of different pollens, molds, and chemicals – just like humans are – and in an allergy scenario, these allergens get in your cat’s nose and cause inflammation and swelling in the sinus linings.

The most common symptom when this occurs is that it looks like your cat is crying. Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds such as Persians are more prone to this, due to their unique facial configurations, but anytime you see excess tears then a vet visit is a good idea to rule out respiratory infections or other issues that can become worse quickly.

Do cats cry tears when in pain?

Most researchers agree that becoming tearful in response to physical or emotional pain is limited to humans. When cats are in pain, it’s actually very hard to tell. When they are ill or hurt, a cat often hides and this is a fairly natural behavior for predators – showing weakness makes you vulnerable!

That said, when cats do express pain, it’s generally going to be in the form of whimpers or quick hissing followed by drawing back, rather than immediately attacking (though a cat in pain may well swat you!). Most often, they will simply withdraw to somewhere private to recuperate and they may exhibit a diminished appetite.

Lethargy is also a red flag, as your cat’s diminished energy levels may be a sign of pain or illness.

So, if your cat is whimpering or hissing more often, hiding, eating less, or simply seems slow then it’s a good time to contact your veterinarian for a closer look at your cat’s current health.

Why does my cat close its eyes while it eats?

While we don’t know the reasons for this with 100% certainty, there are some good theories on why your cat does this. Some people believe that your cat is shutting off visual input so they may rely on information provided by their whiskers. Others say that the closed eyes are simply a sign of contentment and your cat is just savoring their yummy meal.

One excellent explanation for this behavior seems the most likely and it’s a very practical one.

Large cats in the wild, when they devour their prey, tend to close their eyes when they are eating – just like their smaller, domesticated cousins. With the larger cats, shutting their eyes keeps things out of them, such as blood, flies, or hairs from the prey animal’s coat!

What can cause a cat’s eye infection?

Allergies are one of the most common causes, but they are not the only possibility when it comes to a kitty eye infection. Ulcers in the eyes, for instance, can cause an eye infection, and illnesses such as respiratory infections are another potential culprit as well.

A condition called Epiphora manifests as a flow of excess tears but essentially boils down to a problem with proper eye draining. This is generally caused by inflammation and swelling in your cat’s sinuses and so the tears and possibly gummy eyes are the only visible symptoms.

Finally, brachycephalic breeds can frequently develop eye infections just from the shape of their face. Irritants are quickly introduced to the eyes and if you own one of the flat-faced felines, it might be a good idea to regularly clean their eyes with some cotton wet with warm water.

Once or twice a day cleanings can really work wonders with these exotic cats when it comes to keeping their eyes clear and healthy, so consider adding that to your kitty-maintenance regimen. A little ‘preventative maintenance’ never hurt anyone!

What do cats do when they’re sad?

Cats can and do get sad and the behavior is similar to humans in many ways. Grief is a commonly seen example. If your cat loses a playmate that they loved, they tend to ‘mope’ around. You’ll notice that their energy levels are much lower, they will eat less, and their napping schedules will greatly increase while they are coping with the loss of their friend.

Sometimes they’ll even start hiding under the bed, as these solitary creatures tend to deal with pain or illness on their own.

If you see these symptoms, you can help with a little extra petting, some new toys to help distract them, and even a little catnip in their kitty-tower but if your cat seems overly depressed for a long time then they might actually be ill – a vet visit at this point is a very good idea.

If it’s an illness, your vet will catch it and can treat it, but even with cat depression, your vet can give you good advice and possibly even prescribe medications to help. When in doubt, it’s always best to go with the experts!

Lindsey Browlingdon