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Cat Eye Infection and Its Treatment

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Cats have striking and expressive eyes, wide open when they are excited and almost shut when they are happy or relaxed. They don’t just express their feelings with their eyes but they are also a good indicator of their health. Eye infections occur in cats and while some of them tend to clear up on their own, some are a sign of an underlying illness which needs prompt attention from a veterinarian.

Any kind of eye infection in cats must not be ignored. Knowledge about the common causes of eye infections and their symptoms will help you be vigilant about your cat’s health. When you pet a cat, you need to be aware about infection in the eyes of cats and treatment for the same. You would be able to prevent these infections from occurring and medication for your cat can be started quickly if their eyes start to look gunky or weepy. 

Allergies

Sometimes you’d find your feline friend sneezing and it could be because of allergies. Cats, similar to dogs and humans, also have allergies. They could be allergic to certain things in their environment and a vet can help you pinpoint these sources. 

A few common allergens for cats are:

  • Pollen
  • Fleas
  • Smoke
  • Shampoo
  • Chemicals
  • Ear mites and other parasites

Symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Watery or runny eyes/nose
  • Excessive scratching or itching. Just one bite can cause flea allergies!
  • Sudden snoring- This happens when the infection is so severe that the back of the throat gets inflamed

Diagnosis:

  • Cultures or allergen tests for diagnosing the type of allergy
  • Blood or urine tests for ruling out any parasites or bacteria

Treatment plan:

  • The vet may give Eye drops or ointments to decrease inflammation and heal the infection

Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1)

It may look like a cold but it’s not. Feline Herpesvirus affects most cats at some point or the other. While some may show a few symptoms, others will just be carriers for the virus and may not show any symptoms. The virus may be dominant in these cats. If your cat is stressed (could be any reason - attention, new environment, strangers, etc.), the virus can get activated.

Unfortunately, there’s no prescribed sure shot cure for this ailment but you can do your best to make your cat more comfortable. It would minimize any FHV-1 flare-ups and your cat definitely wouldn’t mind the extra love and attention! 

Symptoms:

  • Conjunctivitis- It will show symptoms like inflammation or swelling of the outer lining of the eye
  • Upper respiratory symptoms like sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose, or sneezing
  • Corneal ulcerations must not be neglected at all. You must visit the vet to get medical care before these ulcers cause damage to the vision of your cat

Diagnosis 

  • Blood and urine samples
  • Fluorescein eye stain may be prescribed by the vet to detect the presence of an ulcer or an injury

Treatment plan:

  • Please contact your vet who can guide you with an exact plan. We have put together the most widely known ones.
    • If your cat is showing any upper respiratory symptoms then oral antibiotics or antiviral medications may be given by your veterinarian to treat the upper respiratory infection
    • Eye drops or a topical ointment to alleviate the symptoms and heal infections
    • Vitamin supplements may be advised to help reduce or prevent any virus flares
    • Trying to identify and eliminate any factors that may be stressing out your kitty as stress activates the dormant virus in a cat’s body

Conjunctivitis

We all hate the Pink Eye and so do our cats. Yes, they too get bogged down by conjunctivitis or Conjunctiva. It makes their eyes red and inflamed. Pink Eye is as uncomfortable for our cats as it is for us. The thin mucous membrane on the outer surface of the eye gets inflamed and turns the eye(s) red. When this membrane is injured or catches an infection or is irritated by foreign bodies, it can turn red and irritable. 

Some other reasons for conjunctivitis could be Feline Herpesvirus or Calicivirus. Consult a vet to help diagnose if the Conjunctivitis is viral, bacterial, or fungi-based. This would help in starting the treatment quickly.

Symptoms:

  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Frequent rubbing of eyes and excessive blinking 
  • Red and swollen eyes 
  • Discolored or different eye discharge 
  • A sort of third eyelid appearing that covers part of the eye 

Diagnosis: 

  • Blood or urine samples to confirm if there is an infection
  • A culture or specimen to determine the origin of that infection

Treatment plan:

  • The vet may suggest topical ointments or some Eye drops for the eyes for reducing inflammation and healing the infection
  • Oral antibiotics or antiviral medications may be prescribed if a fungus or an infection is found

Blepharitis

If you see your kitty looking at you with puffy eyes, it’s probably because of Blepharitis and not because of the late-night TV binging it did with you. Blepharitis is an eye infection that causes inflammation of the eyelids. The inflammation can also be seen in the connective tissues, muscles, and glands of the eye. Although flat-faced cats like Persians and Himalayans are prone to this infection more, other cat breeds can get it too. 

Some common reasons that cause Blepharitis include:

  • Allergic due to flea bite
  • Any trauma to the eyelid
  • Other medical conditions like diabetes
  • Even cat’s hair can if it irritates their eyes

Symptoms:

  • Frequent scratching at the eyes or rubbing
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Dry crusty areas around the eyes 
  • Eye discharge
  • Bare leathery areas around the eyes from where hairs have come off

Diagnosis:

  • Blood or urine tests to detect if there is an infection
  • Cultures or biopsies
  • Examining eyelids and its areas to diagnose the extent of the inflammation and determine the areas affected. A physical examination done by the vet may also reveal the cause of the infection 

Treatment plan:

  • Cleaning around the eyes with cotton balls wet with warm water as long as the infection persists
  • Applying warm compresses to the area around the eyes to help soothe them
  • Your vet may also advise you to get an Elizabeth collar for your kitty to protect its eyes. Blepharitis causes a lot of itching in the eyes and your cat may cause more damage by constantly rubbing or scratching at them during the healing process.
  • Topical ointments and eye drops are prescribed by the veterinarian to treat the infection and any inflammation occurring because of it
  • Oral antibiotics may be given if the condition is severe and for long term healing

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eyes or Keratitis)

Keratitis or dry eyes can be a secondary bacterial infection of FVH-1, but this problem can occur along with allergies or other medical problems like Conjunctivitis. Sometimes the problem of dry eyes is genetic. The antibacterial properties of tears protect the eyes as they flush out irritants from the eyes and provide lubrication. 

Dry eye condition can be quite uncomfortable for a cat and you should take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. If left untreated for a long time, it can become a severe issue. Although dry eyes cannot be cured completely, you make it relatively comfortable for your kitty by managing the symptoms.

Symptoms:

  • Swollen eyes
  • Inflammation of the eyelids
  • Excessive blinking
  • Light sensitivity
  • Reluctance to open the eyes
  • The cornea of the eyes appear dry 
  • Dry coating over the cornea or outside the eyes

Diagnosis:

  • Eye examination to determine the problem
  • A Schirmer tear test to determine the percentage of moisture in the eyes
  • A fluorescein stain test to rule out any ulcers or erosion of the cornea

Treatment plan:

  • Your vet may also prescribe eye drops to stimulate tear production of tears
  • If necessary, your kitty may also have to take a few antibiotics if there is an infection 

Finding a vet

How do you know that it’s time to find a vet? Looking at your kitty’s eyes will tell you when there may be an infection making it uncomfortable. There are so many reasons for an infection to happen and so many different types of infections. Getting medical care in time can help keep your cat comfortable. Any kind of bacteria, virus, fungus, or allergies may cause infections in your cat’s eyes. 

GreatVet is the platform that helps you find an emergency vet near you in case your vet is unavailable or you are looking for a second opinion. Enter your location and they will connect you to a qualified and experienced vet in that area. Finding a good vet will ensure that you can start the treatment quickly and have your kitty back to its tricks in no time, purring with delight, and looking at you with its healthy, beady, shiny eyes. 

Author Bio:

Elyse started GreatVet because as a pet owner herself she understands the challenges faced by pet owners and was determined to help as much as she can so that the pet owner community had a reliable place to find veterinarians of any specialty needed for all animals. As a writer, she feels that the focus is on adding value to the content, making it easy for pet parents to relate to and get information. She intends to help pet owners to take better care of their furry friends, leveraging her experience. She leads the GreatVet team to let Great Pets find Great Vets.

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