How to Clean Cat Eyes

Cleaning your cat’s eyes is usually a quick and easy grooming task for most cat breeds. Some cats are prone to tear stains which may require a more regular eye cleaning to prevent health problems.

What are Tear Stains

Tear stains are the brown or reddish-brown stains under the eyes. Some cat breeds with large eyes and short noses, such as Persians and Himalayans, are more prone to eye discharge and tear stains. It is normal for these cats with shorter space between their eyes and nose to have regular eye discharge.

When the discharge comes in contact with light and the air, it turns the substance brown or reddish-brown. Certain breeds of dogs are also prone to tear stains.

When to Clean My Cat’s Eyes

You should clean your feline’s eyes when you notice black or brown crusty substances building up in the corner of their eyes. It is a quick task that you complete with warm water on a cotton ball or pad. Depending on your cat, it may be a daily task or a more infrequent task.

Signs of Eye Problems

A little eye discharge is a regular occurrence and nothing to be worried about. However, if you start to notice your cat is displaying other abnormal issues listed below, you should contact your veterinarian to check for eye infections and possibly subscribe eye drops or an antibiotic eye ointment.

  • Sticky puss discharge
  • Inflammation around the eye/tear ducts
  • Visible eye injury
  • Excessive eye watering that is not going away
  • Eye infection
  • Eye discharge
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Yellow or green thick mucus eye discharge
  • Cat isn’t opening an eye at all

What You Need to Clean Your Cat’s Eyes

Cleaning your cat eyes is a quick process, and you only need a few items. Get everything you need together first to have it ready before approaching your cat.

Be sure to have several cotton balls/pads on hand.

  • Cotton balls/pads
  • Warm water
  • Towel (if you need to wrap your cat or for spills)
  • Eye cleaner (if applicable, consult your vet)
  • Treats

How to Clean Your Cat’s Eyes

Cleaning eyes is a quick and easy process for cat owners. Cleaning the black crusty gunk should only take a minute and only requires a few items.

Steps to Clean Your Cat’s Eyes

  1. Hold your cat comfortably on your lap or a firm surface
    • If needed, you can wrap your cat in the towel if they are not cooperative
  2. Wet or dip the cotton pad/ball in warm water
    • If you are using a container of water, don’t re-dip the same cotton in the container
  3. Hold back the eye whiskers with one hand while you gently wipe eyes with the other hand
    • If the gunk is hardened on, you may need to press the wet cotton to the area to help soften it up before wiping
  4. Once you notice eye gunk on the cotton, discard it and use a fresh one
  5. Take a clean cotton pad/cotton when moving to the second eye to repeat this process
    • Don’t wipe both eyes with the same cotton ball/pad
    • You don’t want to spread anything between eyes, so always use fresh cotton ball when you switch eyes
  6. Reward with a cat treat when done

Step-by-Step Video on How to Clean Your Cat’s Eyes, Nose & Mouth

How to Clean Your Cat’s Entire Face Area Step by Step

Helpful Tips When Cleaning Cat’s Eyes

  • Have plenty of cotton balls/pads on hand
  • Once the cotton is dirty, discard it and use a new one
  • For hardened gunk, hold the wet cotton in the corner of your cat’s eye, gently massaging the area with your thumb to soften it before taking a fresh cotton and wiping again
  • Check the water temperature, you want it warm but not too hot
  • If using a cat eye cleaner, consult your vet first
  • Never use people soaps or cleaners
  • Cotton balls/pads work best because they are soft near the eye area

Do’s & Don’t’s When Cleaning Cat Eyes

Here are some recommendations to follow when cleaning your feline’s eyes are home. Check the cat eye cleaning FAQs for additional information.

  • Consult with your vet for a suitable eye cleaning solution
  • Use a separate cotton ball for each eye
  • Discard cotton once it is dirty and use a fresh one
  • Use warm water
  • Hold and massage wet cotton in the corner of the eye if gunk is not wiping off easily before wiping again
  • Only use a clean cotton product to wipe eyes
  • If using a pet eye cleaner product, be sure it is room temperature
  • Don’t use OTC people products without vet approval first
  • Don’t use the same cotton pad/ball on both eyes
  • Don’t use old leftover cat eye medication from a previous issue
  • Don’t use people soap
  • Don’t scrap or press hard to remove gunk

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I clean my cat’s eyes naturally?

To remove daily cat eye discharge, also referred to as eye boogers, you can use a cotton ball soaked in warm water to remove them gently.

What is the black stuff in my cat’s eyes?

The black crusty stuff in the corner of your kitty’s eyes is normal discharge, similar to how people wake up with ‘sleep’ in the corner of their eyes. Sometimes you will notice this in the crevices of their nose also.

Can you use human eyewash on cats?

Consult with your vet before putting anything in or around your cat’s eyes to clean them. Some people’s eye products are not safe to be used on cats.

Don’t use any over-the-counter people products without the okay from your veterinarian.

How do you remove cat eye stains?

Cat eye stains or “tear stains” can be removed by gently wiping with a fresh cotton pad soaked in warm water.

Should I clean my cat’s eye boogers?

Yes, you should clean your cat’s eye boogers by gently wiping with a cotton pad soaked in warm water. Having some eye gunk is normal by you ideally you should be cleaning your cat’s eyes.

What is the brown stuff in my cat’s eyes?

Typically brown crusty stuff is normal eye discharge which you can remove with warm water and a cotton ball. Some cats are more prone to eye discharge due to the shape of their faces, such as Himalayans and Persian cats, which have larger eyes and short noses.

Are eye boogers normal in cats?

Yes, eye boogers are normal, as long as it is just a little black or brown crusty material in the corner of the eyes. If the discharge is yellow or green, consult your vet right away to treat any possible eye infections.