Conjunctivitis in cats or pink eye is a common eye problem characterised by the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the loose connective tissue that covers the surface of the eye.
Cats with conjunctivitis may experience slight to extreme discomfort. Know how to help your feline friend deal with cat-eye conjunctivitis through this article.
What causes conjunctivitis in cats?
There are two types of conjunctivitis in cats: infectious and non-infectious. Each of these is caused by different factors. Below are the most common causes of conjunctivitis in cats according to type:
Infectious conjunctivitis is contagious to other felines. It is commonly caused by fungi, viruses and bacteria such as:
- feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR)
- Chlamydophila felis (causes herpesvirus)
- Mycoplasma (causes calicivirus)
This type of conjunctivitis has a wide range of causes:
- Environmental irritants or foreign bodies such as dust, smoke, dirt or mould
- Exposure to certain allergens that trigger allergic conjunctivitis
- Eye tumours
- Breed predisposition such as entropion in Persians, Himalayans, and other longhaired breeds
- Age (kittens are more prone to the pink eye)
Signs of conjunctivitis in cats
The clinical signs of conjunctivitis may affect a part of the eye or both eyes. This also specifically occurs on the third eyelid, a membrane located in the inner corner of your cat’s eye. Feline conjunctivitis symptoms include:
- teary or watery eyes
- cloudy eyes
- yellowish or greenish eye discharge
- swollen and red third eyelid
- squinting due to discomfort
- photophobia or sensitivity to bright light
Is Conjunctivitis Contagious to People?
Infectious and non-infectious type of conjunctivitis can’t spread from cats to people. However, people can contaminate other felines if they touched a cat with infectious conjunctivitis. The best preventative measure is to wash your hands thoroughly and sanitise before and after you handle any cat.
Can cats cause conjunctivitis in humans?
Conjunctivitis in cats cannot be passed on from felines to humans but bacterial infections and viral infections can spread between cats. If you have a multiple-cat house, make sure to regularly wash their items such as toys, blankets, bowls, and grooming tools. This is to get rid of dirt and bacteria that may cause eye infections.
If you have a cat with pink eye, separate her from the others to prevent the spread of infection. Only let them reunite once she receives proper treatment and has fully recovered.
Can a cat go blind from conjunctivitis?
The severity of conjunctivitis in cats may go from mild to serious. However, loss of sight is a very uncommon result of pink eye. Although this is the case, proper treatment is still highly necessary. Ignoring your feline’s condition will lead her to experience extreme discomfort and pain.
Diagnosing conjunctivitis in cats
The vet will start by asking you pertinent information about your cat’s eye, behaviour, and overall health. After that, a clinical examination shall be performed. This involves ruling out conditions such as tumours, blocked tear ducts, foreign bodies stuck in the eye, or tumours. Below are the different tests the vet may do to get a clear diagnosis:
- Measuring eye pressure and tear production.
- Staining the cornea with fluorescein dye to determine if there are corneal ulcers or injuries.
- Biopsy or conjunctival scraping.
- Flushing the tear ducts to ensure proper drainage.
- Extracting foreign bodies such as grass seeds if there’s any
- Blood testing to determine if the pink eye is caused by an underlying health problem.
How do you treat conjunctivitis in cats?
The right cat conjunctivitis treatment depends on the cause of the condition. In general, the vet may prescribe one or more of the common treatments listed below.
- Anti-viral medications help prevent the recurrence of the herpes virus.
- Oral anti-inflammatory drugs and applying eye drops will help ease the irritation of your cat’s eyes.
- Oral antibiotics that are specifically designed to concentrate on the respiratory tract or tear film if cat flu is present.
- Allergy medications are given if your cat is suffering from allergic conjunctivitis.
- Surgery may be required for cats with health predispositions such as entropion.
When will my cat recover from conjunctivitis?
Generally, rapid development will be observed within a few days. Infectious conjunctivitis often clears up in 5 to 14 days. Once your cat has recovered, continue administering the medication until the end of the prescribed period. Do not stop the treatment until then as it can cause the recurrence of the pink eye.
How long is conjunctivitis contagious in cats?
As long as your cat is exhibiting the symptoms of conjunctivitis and experiencing weepy and matted eyes, conjunctivitis is still contagious and can spread to other cats.
Natural Remedies for Conjunctivitis in Cats
There are several natural remedies you can do to help alleviate your cat’s conjunctivitis. Here’s a short but useful list of safe remedies that you can try at home:
- Provide a relaxing and calming home environment for your cat. Stress contributes to recurrent viral conjunctivitis. If your cat frequently experiences stressful situations, it can weaken her immune system. This makes him more susceptible to catching diseases such as the highly contagious herpes virus.
- Clean her eyes with distilled water. Use a soft cloth or cotton ball dipped in lukewarm water. Squeeze any extra water before starting. Gently hold the cloth or cotton ball on her eye.
- Then, begin wiping from the tear duct to the outer eye. Repeat this 2 to 3 times a day.
- Press a moist and warm plain tea bag on the affected eye for a few minutes. Teabags have tannin that can lessen the amount of discharge on your cat’s eyes.
- Keep him away from allergen-prone areas inside and outside your home. If she is allergic to pollen, limit her time outdoors. If dust triggers her allergy, be sure to clean your home and keep it dust-free.
- Get her vaccinated especially for the feline herpes virus. This disease is one of the most common causes of pink eye. Doing so will make her less vulnerable to cat conjunctivitis.
- Consider making a saline solution that you can use to clean discharge from her eyes. Mix ¼ teaspoon of table salt and 1 cup of water. Pour a small amount of saline to the cotton ball and then wipe it on the crusty area.
Note that you need to make fresh saline every time you clean the affected eye. This is because bacteria could grow in the solution between treatments.