With a wide field of view and extra-sharp night vision, cats have extraordinary seeing abilities. Not to mention, their eyes are just so gorgeous to stare into (why do you think cat eyes became a makeup sensation?). But cats aren’t immune to the wear and tear of life.
If you’re noticing a change in discharge, appearance, or even behavior with your cat’s eyes, your feline may be facing cat eye problems. And with eye issues, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. As a devoted cat parent, the last thing you want is an avoidable health issue to affect your cat.
To that end, read below for a quick guide on identifying and treating your cat’s eye problems, so you can keep that beautiful gaze protected.
Conjunctivitis, a.k.a. Pink Eye
Pink eye doesn’t only terrorize elementary school classrooms. Almost all mammals can easily pick up some form of conjunctivitis—otherwise known as pink eye or an eye infection. And with cats, most will have conjunctivitis at least once in their lifetimes.
So with such a common cat eye problem, what exactly is the underlying cause?
The disease name comes from the conjunctiva, or the thin mucus membranes that line your cat’s inner eyelid, eye corner, and eyeball. If a nasty bacteria or virus makes its way into that space, you might start seeing some inflammation, swelling, excess blinking, or discharge.
Before you freak out, know that almost all conjunctivitis cases are treatable. To stay wary of any possible infections, here are few main sources of feline conjunctivitis to know about:
- Feline Herpes Virus – Consider feline herpes to be the primary suspect for cat pink eye. The most common cause of conjunctivitis, the herpes virus affects almost 90% of the entire cat population. If your cat’s eyes develop yellow or green discharge, and irritation alongside cold symptoms (think coughing and sneezing), take them in for a herpes test and a veterinarian-approved treatment regimen.
- Chlamydophila and Other Bacteria – This is another situation where seeing the vet is paramount. Like herpes or other viruses, a bacterial eye infection will manifest as colored cat eye discharge, respiratory issues, and overall inflammation. Luckily, unlike viruses, bacteria can be treated with antibiotics.
- Environmental Irritants – The great outdoors are home to many potential irritants. Your feline may love sneaking through the neighbors’ yards, but their eyes (and your neighbors) might not appreciate it. Certain plants, smoke, dust, and other natural irritants can be cause for pink eye or inflammation.
With proper cat eye care and hygiene, you can help prevent most irritants and bacteria from creating a foothold. For instance, the Vetericyn Plus antimicrobial eyewash will gently clean the cat’s eyes without bringing on a fit.
No stinging, no scratching, no more eye gook. Sometimes, the protective measure is as simple as keeping your cats eyes clean.
Declining eye health is part and parcel of the aging process. Cats are no exception.
As your cat grows from kitten to household icon, they may be experiencing one of the few eye health conditions below.
Think of glaucoma as the second tier of cat eye problems. Typically, there’s an underlying issue that causes high intereye pressure, thus leading to glaucoma.
In a normal, healthy cat, fluid moves seamlessly in and out of the eye lens. But with glaucoma, a blockage of this fluid will lead to symptoms like dilated pupils, squinting, noticeable pain, and enlarged eyeballs.
Like diabetes, glaucoma can be primary (inherited from birth) or secondary (brought on by the perils of life). Some secondary causes include but are not limited to:
- Uveitis (severe eye inflammation)
- Feline herpes
- Eye lens dislocation (usually from injury)
- Eyelid tumors
We know it’s difficult seeing your kitten develop painful conditions. While glaucoma isn’t reversible, it’s certainly treatable with prescribed eye drops, anti-inflammatory medications, and even surgery for severe cases.
Starting to see cloud formations in your cat’s eyes? Just like humans, cats can develop cataracts from old age or other causes.
Typically, those swirling white and blue patterns come from blocked lenses, leading to a thickened and cloudy film on top of their eyes. While eye color change is usually a red flag for cataracts, be wary of your cat’s behavior. Do they seem a bit more clumsy? A bit more cautious? This could be due to their failing eyesight.
While aging is typically the primary cause, here are a few other ways your pet can develop cataracts:
- Poor nutrient intake
- Physical trauma (leading to lens dislocation or blockage)
- Metabolic disorders (diabetes, ketoacidosis)
Dry Eye Disorder
A little morning crust in the eyes is completely normal for cats. But, if you’re starting to see some goopy brown or clear cat eye discharge, you may have a dry eye problem.
Often, dry eye conditions result from a lifetime of minor irritation. Do continuous herpes outbreaks or pink eye infections plague your cat’s life?
There’s a high chance they’ll develop keratoconjunctivitis sicca, the clinical name for dry eye disease.
Don’t take this eye condition lightly. Left untreated, your cat could end up with corneal scarring. If you notice thick discharge, squinting, irritation, and a dull look to their eyes, take them into the vet for a tear production test.
Only one eye showing symptoms? Still a red flag. Stay on top of your cat eye care, and you can stop a larger medical problem down the road!
Whether it’s their beautiful fur, jewel-colored eyes, or extraordinary mouse-catching abilities, every cat is precious and unique in their own way. However, just like humans, some cats are also born with unique characteristics that require a little more medical attention and care.
Congenital simply means “from birth.” However, it does not mean “noticeable from birth.” It can take years for certain defects—such as tumors or progressive retinal atrophy—to take their toll.
In particular, cats of Persian, Burmese, and Siamese breeds are more likely to inherit congenital eye issues. But no matter what type of cat you’ve got, you should always take proper cat eye care to avoid any long-lasting damage or pain. A gentle soothing eye gel, such as Vetericyn’s antimicrobial variety, is an excellent tool to add to an irritation treatment regimen. There’s no alcohol, it’s sting-free, and it helps relieve allergies and injuries alike.
Below, take a look at some common congenital eye issues your cat may have:
- Allergens – Trying out a new air freshener in the living room? You might be provoking your cat’s suddenly itchy red eyes. Cats can be allergic to all sorts of chemicals and irritants that exist in the house. From cleaning sprays to perfumes to even certain foods, keep watch for any changes in your cat’s eye health when using new products.
- Ocular Dermoids – From benign to dangerous, ocular dermoids are non-cancerous growths on or near the eyes. If you notice your cat has opaque eyes, hair in weird places on the eye, or a noticeable eye skin patch, take them to the vet for a quick checkup. Some dermoids are harmless, but others can leave permanent corneal scarring.
- Eyelid Agenesis – Our upper eyelids work as the eye’s security detail, keeping out dust and providing proper eye moisture. With eyelid agenesis, cats are born without a fully-formed upper eyelid and can’t blink. Surgery or intensive treatment are the only options for this invasive condition.
- Entropion – At birth, all kittens look like mewing angels. However, entropion (the inward turning of the eyelid) can slowly reveal itself as cats age. While this may seem like an obvious condition, it will sometimes appear as mild eye irritation and excess tears. Make sure you address this issue at the vet.
Stay Informed, Be Proactive
From Bengals to American Short Hairs to Sphinxes, most cats will face eye issues in their lifetime. The key to prevention? Being an attentive and caring owner for your pet.
If you don’t know where to start, establishing a healthy lifestyle for your cat will prevent most eye issues from cropping up. Hypertension, poor diet, and low hygiene all raise the risk for cat eye problems. Additionally, washes and treatments from Vetericyn Plus’ line can protect their eyes from the perils of the great outdoors, or even just your kitchen cleaning supplies.
With proper TLC, you can keep your cat’s eyes as beautiful and sparkling as the world knows them to be. Just stay vigilant, monitor their behavior, and seek out your vet should you notice anything abnormal.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Conjunctivitis. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/conjunctivitis
- VCA Hospitals. Conjunctivitis – Feline Herpes Viral Conjunctivitis. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/conjunctivitis-feline-herpes-viral
- Hill’s Pets. Cataracts in Cats: What You Need to Know. https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/healthcare/cataracts-in-cats
- Rau Animal Hospital. Cats and Glaucoma: An Eye Emergency. https://www.rauanimalhospital.com/resources/blog/cats/cats-and-glaucoma-eye-emergency
- Bow Wow Meow Insurance. Eye (ocular) anomaly in dogs and cats. https://bowwowinsurance.com.au/pet-care/diseases-conditions/eye-ocular-anomaly-in-dogs-and-cats/