Feral cat with persistent watery eye

Hi! I feed a few outdoor feral cats and have two myself. One of my cats is outdoorsy and eats out of the same dry food dish as the ferals. I am worried because one feral cat has had one watery eye ever since I started feeding her (about 5 months ago) and I am afraid that she could pass something along to my cats. The only thing that has changed about her normal cat personality and activeness is that she has developed a round belly (but I've been feeding her). In all this time, I have not seen any change in the other feral cats or my own but piece of mind would be appreciated.

Dear Concerned Cat Lover,

Any time a cat is exposed to another cat, whether indoors or outside, there is a risk that your cat could contract one of many contagious conditions among cats, from conjunctivitis and parasites to FIV and Feline Leukemia. This is a risk you run by feeding ferals and allowing your cats outside, and unfortunately, the only way around it is to have all of the cats tested and vaccinated and kept indoors from that point forward.

If there is any comfort to be offered, time seems to be on your side. The watery eye you described, since it has been like that for months, could be a blocked tear duct. While it could also be a number of other things including conjunctivitis, if she is still holding the eye open, if it hasn't gotten any worse after all this time, and if your cat hasn't already begun showing symptoms after months of exposure, it is not likely to be something your cats will contract.

Best wishes,
Dr. Neely

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