Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) in Cats

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Cats don’t have as many eye problems as dogs do, but when an eye disease occurs in a cat, it is usually chronic and sometimes is a lifetime problem for the cat.

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the pink membrane part of the eye, which lines the white part (sclera) and the inner eyelid. The conjunctiva can become quite reddened and swollen in some cats, and often it is just in one eye and not in both. This causes intermittent or constant squinting. It can occur on and off, for months to years.

Symptoms and Types

There are several common symptoms of this disease, including:

  • Persistent squinting
  • Regular and excessive blinking
  • Redness of the eye tissue
  • Eye discharge
  • Fluid build up in the eye
  • Upper respiratory infection

Causes

There are several viruses that can cause conjunctivitis, one of the most common being the herpes virus. Cats that are regularly exposed to other cats with viral infections are more prone to develop the disease. There are also bacterial causes, one of which is commonly referred to as “dry eye.” In addition, allergies can cause the eyes to react as an external response to the allergen, or it may be as simple as a foreign particle lodging in the eye.

Treatment

If there is a suspected food or environmental allergen causing the infection, the issue should clear up when the identified allergen is removed from the cat’s environment. If the infection is due to a virus, there are some commonly prescribed medications to manage the inflammation, including oral and topical (external) antibiotics such as Tetracycline cream. In addition, alleviating stress is very important in cats. In serious cases, surgery may be required to remove any blockages that are found to be present in the eye.

Prevention

Limiting exposure to other animals that are possibly infected can prevent recurrence of conjunctivitis. Also, some vaccinations have proven effective at minimizing the risk of developing this condition.

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