Conjunctivitis is a painful inflammation of the tissue lining the eyelids. If you gently pull down your cat’s lower eyelid, you’ll be able to see the pink conjunctiva inside it. The same can be found inside the upper eyelids. Conjunctivitis is a painful condition that needs prompt treatment from your veterinarian.
Symptoms of Feline Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis can affect either one or both eyes and usually results in excessive tear production, sticky discolored discharge, and red swollen conjunctiva. Affected cats often blink more than usual and pain makes them squint. If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, take them to your veterinarian straight away. It’s possible that untreated conjunctivitis can permanently affect their vision.
How Cats Contract Conjunctivitis
There are a number of causes of conjunctivitis in cats. They can be broken down into two main categories: infectious conditions and non-infectious conditions.
Infectious causes of conjunctivitis include bacteria, viruses (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis or Feline Calcivirus) and fungal infections. When the conjunctiva is inflamed, it’s common for secondary infections to make symptoms worse.
Non-infectious causes of conjunctivitis include allergies, foreign bodies such as grass seeds, and tumors. Even a cat’s breed can play a role – some breeds such as the Persian have eyelids that turn inwards which makes the eyelashes rub on the cornea. This is extremely painful.
If your vet suspects your cat has conjunctivitis, they’ll firstly try to identify a cause. This will involve checking for foreign bodies or eye injuries. They’ll look for other signs of respiratory disease such as sneezing, which can indicate a viral infection. They may even use a special stain to show if there is any ulceration to the cornea.
Treatment of Conjunctivitis
The most common treatment for conjunctivitis is the use of a broad-spectrum antibiotic ointment. Depending on the diagnosis, this ointment may also contain an anti-inflammatory drug to reduce swelling and pain. These medications are used twice daily and complete recovery can take a number of days or even weeks. However if the underlying cause, such as eyelashes rubbing on the eye, isn’t resolved, the conjunctivitis is likely to recur. Cats with conjunctivitis related to respiratory virus can also have relapses from time to time.
When their eyes are healthy, cats enjoy an incredible sense of vision. Although it’s stressful to see your much loved cat with sore eyes, conjunctivitis can usually be easily managed with the proper course of treatment. By knowing the signs of conjunctivitis and getting your cat to the vet as early as possible, you can make sure your much loved feline family member makes a quick recovery.
Content Reviewed By A Veterinarian