A winking cat may be adorable but it could be a sign of eye infection. If your cat keeps blinking and rubbing at her eyes, she may be suffering from one of these types of infections: conjunctivitis (pink eye), keratitis, blepharitis, uveitis, and stye. What should you do if your cat has any of these eye infections?
Understanding the signs and causes of eye infection in cats will help you recognise them before they get worse. Knowing is half the battle.
Symptoms of a Cat Eye Infection
Aside from unusual blinking, rubbing, and cat eye discharge (yellow or green), other signs include:
- Swollen eyelids (third eyelid may be poking out or covering a part of the affected eye)
- Infected eye is kept closed
- Reddish white parts of the eye
- Dull or cloudy eye surface
An important aspect in checking for eye issues in your cat is knowing what your pet’s eyes normally look like. You should also look for changes in the appearance of your cat’s third eyelid. This way, you’ll be able to detect eye irritations or infections before they become worse.
If you suspect an infection, get a veterinarian’s confirmation. Feline eye issues have many causes and may even be symptoms of an underlying problem.
Causes of Feline Eye Infections
What causes eye discharge and other issues in cats?
- Bacteria (chlamydia and mycoplasma are the most common)
- Viruses (usually feline herpes virus type 1 or calicivirus)
Cats can get infections from other cats. For example, they can get clawed in the eye, which may get infected. Kittens and younger cats with weak immune systems are more likely to be infected. For older cats, eye issues that appear suddenly may indicate a bigger problem, like cancer, feline leukaemia, and autoimmune disease.
Some infections can be recurring issues, particularly if caused by the feline herpes virus. It can reoccur over many months and even years.
Whilst eye infections are not fatal, if left untreated, they can impair other parts of the eye and potentially cause blindness.
Eye Infection Treatments
The treatment of a feline eye infection depends on its cause. If it is caused by bacteria, the vet typically prescribes antibiotics. These can be in the form of drops or an ointment. Although there are oral alternatives, they are not usually recommended.
Viral infections are medically addressed in the same way. If the case is severe, antiviral medicines will be administered to contain the infection and prevent bacterial infection.
If the eye problem is due to an allergy, anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed.
Overall, it may take about two weeks for the affected pet to recover.
In caring for a cat with eye issues at home, the most important aspect is in keeping your pet’s eyes clean.
- If she has an eye discharge, wipe it off with damp cotton wool or soft cloth. Always use a fresh piece to wipe off the discharge. Never use the same one for both eyes to prevent contagion. Pat the area dry. For cats with considerable infection, the cleaning may need to be done every hour.
- If your cat’s eyes are closed shut by the infection, wipe it with sterilised cool water. You can also trim the fur near the eye area to keep it clear and clean.
- To check your pet’s eyes, do so in a well-lighted place. Roll down her lids gently with your thumb to inspect the lining under the lid. This should be pinkish, not pale and white or red. Her eyes should be clear and her pupils equally sized.
Should you use Neosporin or a similar human ointment on your cat’s eye?
To be on the safe side, ask the vet first. Also, avoid using over-the-counter eye drops or canine eye drops because the formulation is not suitable for cats. Veterinarians warn that dog eye medicines can be harmful to cats because those have steroids.
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Can Humans Catch Eye Infections from Cats?
Is it possible for humans to catch their cat’s eye infection? Amongst various eye issues, only two of them are risky for humans. One is toxoplasmosis, which is a parasitic infection. It can cause the eye infection uveitis and can be transferred to people.
The other is cat scratch fever, which is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted via cat saliva. It can trigger fever, body aches, conjunctivitis, and eye infections in humans. The infection does not show as much in cats, except for watery eyes. Cats can even recover from the illness quickly.
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