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Cat Eye Infections 101 (cause, signs & treatments)

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Table of content

A cat’s eyes are definitely one of its more attractive and defining features. Mysterious yet beautiful, their pensive gaze has captivated us as pet owners for generations.
That being said, cat eye infections are probably the easiest to pick up by pet owners as they are quite obvious to the untrained eye and fairly common as well.

If you happen to find your cat looking at you strangely or find their eyes glazed over, weepy or filled with gunk, you’re probably dealing with an eye infection.

Here’s everything you need to know about cat eye infections and all the help you need from symptoms, care and treatment options here in Malaysia.

Disclaimer: While this article might give you a comprehensive insight into cat and kitten eye infections, it is by no means a replacement for professional advice from a trained and qualified professional. Be sure to get your vet’s opinion on any eye symptoms or signs your furbaby might exhibit, especially if it’s the first occurrence. 

Are cat eye infections similar to a human’s eye infections?

The anatomy of a cat’s eye is quite different from that of a human. Cat’s have elliptical pupils to our round ones, allowing them to adjust to light changes much quicker than us.

They also have a gel-like substance in the back of their eye which helps reflect light, making them need only 1/6th of the light we do, allowing for awesome night vision capabilities.

They have a nictitating membrane, sometimes referred to as a ‘third eyelid’ that offers additional protection from injury.

So while we might share similar eye diseases like blepharitis and conjunctivitis, the treatments might well differ due to the variation in anatomy and structure.

What are the symptoms of an eye infection in cats?

While a healthy cat’s eyes are bright and clear, any slight change to that might be due to an infection. Look out for cloudiness, discharge or puffiness around the eyes and eyelids. Also, be sure to check that their pupils are the same size.

1. Conjunctivitis

Also known as cat pink eye, it’s a disease we share with our feline friends. Cat conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin membrane on the eye's outer surface.  It’s caused by an infection by external sources, usually bacteria, fungus or a virus. Irritants like dust and smoke can also cause it.

The white of their eyes will appear red and inflamed, with frequent blinking and rubbing. Sneezing and coughing are also common, along with discharge from the eyes.

As treatment options differ depending on the source of infection, be sure to consult your vet. Fret not, as It clears up easily with prompt diagnosis and treatment.

2. Allergies

Once again, a condition we, as humans, share with our furbabies. Look out for common symptoms like sneezing and scratching.

Common allergens include ear mites, fleas, shampoo, smoke, and pollen.

Your vet might take a blood or urine test to rule out bacterial or parasitic infections. Allergen testing can be done to determine the type of allergy.

Treatment usually involves prescription cat eye drops and ointments depending on the source of infection—antibiotics for bacteria, anti-virals for viruses and antifungals for fungi.

3. Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1)

While most cats have at some stage of their lives been exposed to FHV-1, many 

remain carriers and show no symptoms. The unlucky few will have symptoms like coughing, sneezing, a runny nose and cat conjunctivitis. The virus spreads through contact with an infected cat.

If cat conjunctivitis remains untreated, it could lead to corneal ulceration, which could later affect their vision.

Therefore, a quick visit to the vet is essential. Blood and urine samples help with formulating a diagnosis. 

While there is no definite cure for this particular virus, medication like cat eye drops, oral antibiotics and antivirals help to alleviate the symptoms. Lysine vitamin supplements help reduce flares caused by the virus.

4. Blepharitis

It is the inflammation of the eyelids, causing puffy eyes. Characterised by excessive rubbing and dry or crusty areas around the eyes, It’s known to be more common in flat-faced cats like Himalayans and Persians.

It can be due to allergic reactions, flea bites, diabetes or trauma to the eyelids. 

Your vet will usually use a warm compress to remove the gunk and crust in and around the eyes, followed by treatment with cat eye drops and ointments.

You might require an Elizabethan collar to help prevent your kitty from scratching its eyes.

Can cat eye infections be treated at home?

It’s always best advised that you seek the guidance of a vet, especially if it’s the first time you’re dealing with a cat eye infection. If, for some reason, your cat develops recurrent symptoms (common in allergies), you might purchase over the counter medication or cat eye drops that have worked for you in the past. 

Always consult your vet if your home treatment shows no signs of improvement after a couple of days.

While cat eye infections can certainly be an annoying occurrence, it’s always important to notice them early as prompt diagnosis and treatment will ensure a quicker recovery and less suffering for your lovable furbaby. 

Adequate pet insurance for peace of mind and regular checkups and vaccinations go a long way in preventing recurrent infections and unwanted additional visits to the vet.