Clearing Up Confusion. What Color Should Your Cat’s Eye Boogers Be?

What are eye boogers in cats?

Eye boogers in cats refer to the buildup of discharge, mucus, and dried tears in the inner corners of a cat’s eyes. They appear as crusty or gooey accumulations near the tear ducts and typically range in color from light yellow to dark brown or black.

Eye boogers form when the tears produced to keep the eyes lubricated contain excess proteins and minerals. As the tears evaporate, these components are left behind and condense into solid debris. Blinking also pushes the discharge towards the inner eye where it collects.

In addition to tears, eye boogers can contain mucus, fatty secretions from meibomian glands along the eyelids, dead skin cells, dust, pollen, and other irritants. The composition leads to the crusty texture when eye boogers dry out.

Most cats naturally produce some eye discharge as part of regular eye functioning and self-cleaning. Excess discharge occurs when tear production increases to flush out irritants or infection. Allergies, eye injuries, structural issues, and other health problems can also cause increased discharge and booger buildup.

While unsightly, minor eye booger production is normal for cats. But excessive buildup or discharge of an abnormal color may indicate an underlying issue requiring veterinary attention. Regularly cleaning clumps away with a soft, warm cloth can help reduce excessive buildup.

Normal eye booger colors

Cats can have eye boogers in a range of normal colors including green, yellow, and brown. These common eye booger colors are usually not a cause for concern as long as the discharge is not excessive.

Green or yellow eye discharge is typically composed of mucus and dead white blood cells. A small amount of these colors coming from your cat’s eyes is normal, especially if they’ve just woken up from sleep. As noted by Maddie’s Fund (, green/yellow eye discharge that is thick but not excessive may just be normal crusting and clearing of the eyes.

Brown eye boogers can also be normal and are composed of dust and dirt particles combining with your cat’s natural eye secretions. As Cloud9vets ( explains, some brown discharge is expected, especially if your cat goes outside or is exposed to irritants.

Overall, small amounts of green, yellow, or brown eye discharge are normal for cats. Excessive crusting or discolored discharge could indicate an issue, but generally these colors are not a cause for alarm.

Abnormal eye booger colors

While clear or pale yellow eye boogers are normal in cats, abnormal colors like red, black, or bloody can indicate more serious problems. Red or bloody discharge is often a sign of inflammation, infection, or injury to the eye. Common causes include conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, trauma, or glaucoma (Source 1).

Black or reddish-brown eye discharge is usually a sign of epiphora, which is excessive tear production due to blocked tear ducts. This prevents tears from draining properly and can cause tear staining around the eyes (Source 2).

Any abnormal eye discharge color in cats, especially red, black, or bloody boogers warrants an immediate vet visit. These eye colors indicate inflammation, infection, or injury that requires veterinary treatment. Leaving these issues untreated can lead to permanent eye damage or blindness.

Causes of eye boogers

There are several potential causes of eye boogers in cats:

Allergies – Allergies to pollen, dust, mold, etc. can cause eye irritation and increased tear production. The tears then dry in the corners of the eyes causing crusty eye boogers. Allergies are a very common cause of chronic eye boogers in cats 1.

Infections – Bacterial, viral or fungal eye infections can all lead to eye discharge and boogers. Common eye infections in cats include conjunctivitis (pink eye) and feline herpesvirus. Infections cause inflammation and irritation resulting in excess tear production. As the tears dry they leave behind eye boogers 2.

Blocked tear ducts – Cats have tear ducts that drain tears from the eyes down the nasal passages. If these tear ducts become blocked, it can cause tears to accumulate and overflow from the eyes. As they dry, it results in crusty eye boogers. Blocked tear ducts may be caused by infection, inflammation, or physical blockages.

Treating eye boogers

There are several at-home treatment options for minor cat eye boogers:

Warm compresses can help loosen and remove dried eye discharge. Use a clean washcloth soaked in warm water and gently wipe the area around your cat’s eyes. Be very gentle and do not forcefully scrub.

Over-the-counter antibiotic eye drops or ointments can be used for minor eye infections if recommended by your veterinarian. Follow all label instructions carefully. Some options include gentamicin, chloramphenicol, and erythromycin. Consult your vet before using any medication in your cat’s eyes. According to Pet Care RX, these can help fight infection and reduce inflammation.

For more severe eye infections, your vet may prescribe oral antibiotics. It’s important to follow dosage instructions carefully and give all doses as directed. Oral antibiotics like doxycycline or amoxicillin can clear up underlying infections causing eye discharge.

In all cases, follow your veterinarian’s recommendations closely. Seek prompt veterinary attention if your cat’s condition does not improve or gets worse while treating at home.

Preventing Eye Boogers

Keeping your cat’s eyes and face clean can help prevent eye boogers from forming. Gently wipe your cat’s eyes daily with a warm, damp cloth to remove any discharge or crust before it accumulates (Petcarerx). Be careful not to rub too hard or poke your cat’s eye.

Treating any underlying allergies your cat may have is also important for prevention. Allergies to food, pollen, or other environmental factors can cause eye irritation and excess discharge. Work with your vet to identify any allergies and begin treatment with things like dietary changes or allergy medicine (Webmd). This can reduce eye irritation and prevent excessive eye boogers.

When to see a vet

While small amounts of harmless eye discharge are normal in cats, bloody or excessive eye boogers can signal an underlying health problem that requires veterinary attention. Cats rely heavily on their sense of sight for hunting and navigation, so any issues with their eyes should be addressed quickly.

According to Catster, take your cat to the vet promptly if you notice:

  • Bloody eye discharge
  • Thick, mucus-like discharge, especially if green or yellow
  • Excessive tearing or squinting
  • Frequent blinking or rubbing at the eyes
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Discharge from only one eye

One-sided eye discharge could signal an injury, infection, or foreign object lodged in the eye. Cats are prone to eye ulcers that can quickly worsen without veterinary care. Green or yellow discharge often accompanies bacterial conjunctivitis. Bloody discharge may result from trauma, ulcers, or glaucoma.

Let your vet examine your cat’s eyes and prescribe appropriate medication if needed. Prompt treatment can resolve many feline eye issues before they cause permanent damage.

Eye Booger Color Meanings

The color of a cat’s eye boogers can indicate different health conditions. Here are some of the most common eye booger colors and what they may signify:

Green – Green eye discharge is very common in cats. As long as it is not excessive, greenish eye boogers are usually normal and no cause for concern. The green color comes from tears mixed with mucus that accumulates in the corners of the eyes.

Yellow – Yellow eye discharge often signals the beginning stages of an eye infection. It occurs when white blood cells rush to the eye to fight off infection-causing irritants. Yellow eye boogers are typically a sign of mild conjunctivitis. This requires monitoring, but usually clears up on its own.

Black – Black or dark brown eye boogers may indicate a corneal ulcer. Ulcers expose nerve endings on the eye’s surface causing significant irritation and pain. Immediate veterinary care is required to prevent vision loss. Medicated eye drops will likely be prescribed (Source).

While most eye booger colors are not serious, it’s important to monitor any changes in amount, consistency or color. Persistent abnormalities could signal an underlying health issue needing veterinary attention.

Eye booger consistency

The consistency of a cat’s eye boogers can give clues about potential eye issues. Thick, mucus-like eye boogers are common in healthy cats, especially upon waking up. The thick, gluey discharge often results from the eyes’ natural lubrication process. As long as it doesn’t persist all day, thick eye discharge is usually normal.

Runny or watery eye discharge, however, can signal a problem. According to the ASPCA, watery eyes or runny eye discharge often indicates conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Conjunctivitis causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the mucous membrane lining the inner eyelid and front of the eyeball. Viruses, bacteria, irritants or allergies can cause conjunctivitis, leading to red, swollen eyes and thin, watery discharge [1]. Other possible causes of abnormal watery eye discharge include corneal ulcers, glaucoma, inadequate tear production, or facial nerve paralysis [2].

In addition to noting thickness, also watch for any color changes in eye discharge. Yellow, green or brown discharge could indicate an infection. Immediately contact your vet if your cat has a runny eye for more than a day or two, or any eye discharge that seems abnormal.

Eye Booger Pictures

It can be helpful to see photos of normal and abnormal cat eye boogers to get a visual sense of what to look out for. Here are some examples:

Normal eye boogers tend to be light tan or brown in color. They may form in the corners of a cat’s eyes, especially when waking up from a nap. This is generally nothing to worry about, as minor discharge is common. For example:

Abnormal eye boogers may be excessive, green or yellow, contain mucus or pus, or indicate an eye infection. Some signs to watch out for include:

Redness around the eye, puffy or watery eyes, or boogers stuck to the eye rather than the corners can also be problematic. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to schedule a vet appointment to identify and treat the underlying issue.

In general, keeping an eye on the color, consistency, and quantity of your cat’s eye discharge can help you determine if it’s normal or requires veterinary attention. Taking photos over time can also help track any changes or worsening symptoms.

Scroll to Top