Feline Eye Health: Cat Eye Infection, Ulcers, Allergies & More

Humans aren't the only ones who have to deal with styes and glaucoma. If you want to protect those gorgeous peepers on your cat's cute face, it's time to brush up on the most common feline eye health problems, like cat eye infection, allergies, and cataracts.

PrettyLitter Feline Eye Health: Cat Eye Infection, Ulcers, Allergies & More

Here's what to look for and how to help keep your fur baby's lovely lookers healthy and twinkling.

Cat Eye Infection

One of the most common blights for kitties, a cat eye infection can cause serious problems for your furry friend if not addressed immediately. Also known as conjunctivitis, a cat eye infection usually comes with the following symptoms:

  • Redness or swelling of the eye or tissues around the eye
  • Excessive pawing or rubbing of the eye
  • Squinting
  • Blinking excessively

If left untreated, cat eye infections can lead to blindness or require surgery. So be sure to get your fur baby treatment right away.

Young cats typically develop a cat eye infection if they have been infected with a bacteria or virus such as:

  • Mycoplasma
  • Chlamydia
  • Feline Herpesvirus Type 1
  • Calicivirus

As cats get older, the cause of a cat eye infection is usually due to some sort of underlying condition. In other words, a cat eye infection is often a symptom of another problem rather than a stand-alone issue.

Common causes of a cat eye infection in older felines include:

  • Trauma to the eye
  • An autoimmune disease
  • Cancer
  • A systemic viral infection such as feline leukemia (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

Treatment

Thankfully, there are several treatment options for a cat eye infection. Be sure to visit your veterinarian to determine the precise cause of the infection before giving your kitty any kind of treatment. Even leftover meds that have been used for your cat's ailments in the past may not be appropriate for a new cat eye infection.

If your vet determines the cause is bacterial, he or she will likely prescribe an antibiotic in the form of eye drops or a topical ointment. Viral infections are a bit more complex and require various treatments depending on the stage of the infection, if there are any other issues going on, and the type of virus itself.

Corneal Ulcers

The cornea is the spherical, clear portion of your cat's eye. If you look at your cat from the side, you can see the cornea clearly as it's the front-most part of the eye. The cornea is there to protect the other key parts of the eye while also controlling how much light is allowed into the eye and helping your cat focus.

Corneal ulcers occur when your cat looses excessive amounts of cells on the outside of the cornea. Unfortunately, in most cases, a corneal ulcer develops faster than your cat's body can regenerate cells, which means this condition will get progressively worse.

The symptoms of a corneal ulcer include:

  • Intense pain
  • Excessive rubbing of the eye
  • Squinting
  • Blinking rapidly
  • Keeping the eyes closed for prolonged periods of time
  • Discharge in the corner of the eye

Corneal ulcers are most commonly caused by trauma – like getting hit or scratched in the eye or rubbing too hard against a surface. However, chemical burns caused by harsh shampoos, dish soap, or even drywall dust can also cause corneal ulcers.

Treatment

A minor abrasion should heal within 3-5 days. In some cases, your vet may prescribe eye drops or ointments to prevent bacterial infection and manage your fur baby's pain. However, if a serious ulcer develops, your kitty may need surgery.

In most cases, a vet will temporarily suture the third eyelid over the ulcer to provide a natural "eye patch" of sorts that will allow your cat's eye to heal. Your cat may also need an Elizabethan collar (aka, the cone of shame) to prevent her from rubbing her eye.

Eye Allergies

Yes, cats can get allergies, too! Symptoms of kitty eye allergies include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Irritation of the respiratory system

Cats can develop eye allergies from a number of things, including allergens in the air, in their food, or on the surfaces they like to cuddle up to most.

If you notice your cat is exhibiting many of the symptoms we humans experience associated with allergies and "hay fever," consult your vet. Try to pin-point exactly when you noticed the symptoms started so you and your vet can try to identify the cause of the allergies.

Iris Melanosis

While we do share a lot in common with our kitties – like a love of naps and a susceptibility to allergies – there are some conditions that are specific to the feline world. Iris melanosis is one of them.

Iris melanosis is a condition that causes the iris of your cat's eye to become pigmented irregularly. For example, if your cat has bright blue, yellow, or green eyes, you may notice brown splotches appearing in the colored part of her eye.

This change is a result of the pigmented cells in your cat's eye replicating incorrectly. While it may look interesting, it's a serious condition.

If left untreated, iris melanosis can develop into malignant cancer. It can also metastasize (spread) to other parts of your cat's body and cause serious organ and tissue failure.

Treatment

The treatment your cat needs depends on the progression of the condition. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend laser therapy, a treatment that carefully destroys the affected cells to prevent the condition from spreading. However, this treatment is still being developed and may not be right for your kitty.

If you notice odd splotches of color in your cat's eyes, contact your vet immediately. And yes, we are suggesting gazing lovingly into your cat's eyes from time to time.

Glaucoma

You may recognize this as one of those things humans fret about in old age. Sadly, our feline friends can get glaucoma, too.

There are two different types of glaucoma in cats:

  1. Primary Glaucoma – This rare condition is an inherited trait most common in Burmese and Siamese cats.
  2. Secondary Glaucoma – The common form of glaucoma, this condition can develop in one or both of your cat's eyes. It's most commonly caused by uveitis, an inflammation of the eye that causes protein and debris to block the drainage of the eye. The result is increased pressure build up in the eye that affects your cat's vision.

Treatment

Unfortunately, glaucoma is a progressive condition that has no known cure. However, your veterinarian can help you manage your fur baby's symptoms of pain and discomfort.

Common treatments for the symptoms of glaucoma include timolol or dorzolamide eyedrops to reduce the pressure or steroids to reduce inflammation. These treatments may also slow the loss of vision.

Cataracts

The final common eye health problem on our list is cataracts – no pun intended.

Feline cataracts occur when the lens in your cat's eye becomes cloudy or, over time, completely opaque. In other words, rather than allowing light into your cat's eye so she can see the world, the lens progressively limits the amount of light until it becomes a complete barrier and allows no light into your cat's retina.

Cataracts are caused by natural aging or may be caused by other conditions like feline diabetes or hypertension.

Treatment

If your cat's cataracts are caused by an underlying condition, the best treatment will be to address that condition specifically. Luckily, there are many treatments for feline diabetes and hypertension, so be sure to explore your options with your fur baby's vet.

If the culprit is simply aging, your veterinarian may recommend surgery. However, there are several risks involved with performing surgery on an elderly cat, so you and your vet will need to weigh the pros and cons to give your little one the best quality of life possible in her old age.

PrettyLitter Feline Eye Health: Cat Eye Infection, Ulcers, Allergies & More

If you suspect your fur baby is suffering from a cat eye infection, corneal ulcer, or any other common eye health problem, take her in to see the vet right away.

Have questions about your cat's pretty peepers? Let us know in the comments below and we'll do our best to help you out!




Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

Author



9 Responses

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

April 07, 2019

@Jeanne & Mikey – Hi to you both! Our suggestion would be to wipe each eye with a clean damp cloth or cotton ball and pat dry the eye before you apply the eye ointment. The surface should be clean and close to dry before the ointment is applied.
Also, be sure that you’re using a fresh cloth on each eye to prevent any spreading of bacteria between the eyes. Thanks for sharing and we hop Mikey feels better soon!

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

April 07, 2019

@LT – It could be allergies but it also could be an underlying condition. The safest thing you can do is take her to the vet to make sure the coast is clear. :)

LT
LT

March 29, 2019

My 2 year old female has one eye that gets runny/goopy and then the area under the eye ends up getting crusty as a result. It comes and goes. I generally wipe her eye with a tissue or damp towel. Doesn’t seem to bother her at all. Should I be concerned?

Jeanne
Jeanne

March 29, 2019

My Ragdoll male cat (Mikey) is 14 years old and is on medication for chronic colitis – he is doing very well but has an eye situation in both eyes. Every morning when he awakes, he has a dry crusty dark residue in the corners of his eyes. The vet gave me antibiotic eye ointment for this but after two different kinds of eye ointment, his eyes are not responding at all. Any suggestions? FYI – I love your litter!!!!!

Patricia Pointer
Patricia Pointer

March 22, 2019

I have s blind cat. He has been blind for 6 years. He is now 13. It was a
congenital condition I am told. I take him to a specialist. I have a question
regarding one of my other cats(I have 3) Momma is14 and pulls out hair
sometimes. She is 14+. Why does she do this? My vet does not know.
They are the most beautiful, loving, and happy cats in the world Healthy.
and follow me everywhere. They are with me constantly. As you can see,
I adore them. I am almost 78 years old but going through on 50!!.

Bodhicattva
Bodhicattva

March 22, 2019

Always well explained health information. Thank you!

Fred
Fred

March 22, 2019

It is true, are pets can get most of the conditions we can find some that we can’t. Wonderful article on eyecare, I just had one question? Do you know if the pretty litter team is working to reduce the dust it makes especially about week 3. Same time the ammonia oder comes back pretty bad. I love the product but it worries me because my cat has eye allergies and the dust bothers him. I have to vacuum it of the blinds and furniture in the room where litter box is everything is coated with white dust. I’m careful not to grind it when I stir. I stir 2-3 times a day to spread out where he urinates as suggested on bag. If you don’t stir regularly the oder increases exponentially and stays.
Any suggestions? I have some eye wipes I use for him when the gunk starts forming but otherwise I feel stuck. He is getting g older and drinking a lot more so I worry about his kidneys. I love the peace of mind Pretty Litter brings. I even asked if I could just get it every 3 weeks and pay extra but I was told they can’t do that for just one customer. To many things are automated. I get that I just hope the fix the formula then because my cats eyes are as important as my own to me. Sadly he is my fur baby thought I think he believes he is taking care of me not the other way around. 😂

Diane Rich Krause
Diane Rich Krause

March 22, 2019

My Cowgirl is 10. Female black and white. I adopted her as a kitten.. she always had runny eyes.. our Vet has prescribed drops, salve. Sometimes it helps.. sometimes not. You will glad to know since I changed to Pretty Litter her eyes have stopped running considerable. I was using Fresh Step. The litter was irritating her eyes… but Pretty Litter changed all that.
Thank You !

Sharon
Sharon

March 22, 2019

Hi! My boy is 17 1/2 years old, and has had this for 4-5 years — his pupils are permanently dilated. His once beautiful blue eyes are now just big black pupils. Hi is a Siamese / Himalayan cross. He is now on medication for high blood pressure and also on meds to help slow down kidney deterioration. The vet said it could be caused by high blood pressure. Now that he’s on medication, could this be reversed? Or will his eyes be like this forever. I know he can still see. He does some funny blinking at times which made me think they are irritated. I would love to hear your answer. Thanks!

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