Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye. The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane, similar to the lining of the mouth and nose.
Many cats have chronic problems with conjunctivitis. Often, the problem comes and goes. The problem may affect one or both eyes.
The eyes may be any or all of the following: red, swollen, watery, crusty, or containing pus.
Causes of Conjunctivitis in Cats
Conjunctivitis in cats is almost always caused by infection. Infectious conjunctivitis is caused either by a viral or bacterial infection.
The most common causes of Infectious Conjunctivitis in cats are:
* 1. Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1) is an upper respiratory infection. Herpesvirus is also often referred to as Cat Flu.
Feline Herpesvirus is a common cause of eye infections in cats and kittens.
Kittens are commonly exposed to Herpesvirus and for many cats no further problems occur. However, the cat may become a carrier of the virus. The virus may remain dormant but it can flare up later in life in times of stress.
Read more on Feline Stress
Complications of Herpesvirus may involve corneal ulcers. A Corneal Ulcer is a serious condition that requires urgent veterinary attention.
Herpesvirus is also referred to as Cat Flu. Read more on Cat Flu – Herpesvirus
* 2. Feline Chlamydophila. (formerly known as Chlamydia) Kittens and young cats are more vulnerable to this infection although it can be found in cats of all ages. Chlamydophila is a common cause of infectious conjunctivitis in cats. Antibiotics in the form of eye ointment or tablets given by mouth are often prescribed for associated conjunctivitis.
* 3. Feline Calicivirus (FCV). The calicivirus causes cold like symptoms which result in runny nose and eyes among other symptoms. The infection can affect the membranes of the eye but does not cause eye ulcers.
Calicivirus is also referred to as Cat Flu. Read more on Cat Flu – Calicivirus
Primary viral infections are often complicated by secondary bacterial infections
The eyes may be filled with pus when secondary bacterial infection invades. Secondary bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Your vet may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or oral treatment. (Tablets)
Other Causes of Conjunctivitis in Cats
- Injury, such as a scratch to the eye
- Foreign objects in the eye
- Congenital Defects such as small or absent tear ducts.
- Persian Cats may suffer from chronic eye infections. Persians are prone to hereditary eye conditions that can result in excess tearing and eye infections.
What are some of the Symptoms of Cat Conjunctivitis? (Also known as Pink Eye)
- The cat’s eye membranes may be red and swollen
- The cat’s eye may contain mucus, pus or a greenish discharge. This may suggest secondary bacterial infection.
- Thick secretions that dry and crust the eyelids
- Clear and watery discharge from the cat’s eye.
- Persistent squinting
- Excessive blinking
- It may affect one or both eyes
- The cat shows other signs of upper respiratory infection such as sneezing and a discharge from the nose. (Cat Flu)
Often, when both eyes are involved a virus is usually responsible. The virus could be herpesvirus or calicivirus.
If on the other hand one eye is infected and it then progresses to the other eye some days later then it is more likely to be caused by Feline Chlamydia or Mycoplasma.
Treatment for Cat Conjunctivitis at Home
Bathe the eyes in a saline solution. This helps relieve irritation and is useful in washing out viral particles from the eye. Also use it to remove crusts from the eye.
Saline Solution: Mix one quarter of a teaspoon of table salt to one cup of water. Bathe the eyes 3 or 4 times a day. Use a cotton ball to drizzle a small amount of the solution into the cat’s eyes.
Be sure to make a fresh solution and fresh cotton ball for each bathing as the solution may become contaminated with bacteria.
Pus in the Cat’s Eyes
If the eyes become filled with pus suspect a secondary bacterial infection. You will need to consult with your Vet as an antibiotic treatment is usually necessary.
Vaccines to Prevent Cat Conjunctivitis
Vaccines are available to protect cats against Chlamydophila, Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1) and Feline Calicivirus (FCV).
It is strongly suggested that you consult your veterinarian for a definite diagnosis for all eye problems.
This article is for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace veterinary advice.