What's Causing Your Cat's Red, Watery Eyes?
A cat’s eyes are usually described as beautiful, stunning and mesmerizing; but these same gorgeous eyes are also extremely sensitive. In fact, it's not uncommon for a pet owner to discover discharge gathering in the corners of their feline's eyes. If you find that the discharge or watery eyes don’t clear up after gently wiping them, your kitty may be experiencing an eye infection.
Cat eye infections, which are usually the culprits behind weepy eyes, are likely to happen to most cats at least once in their lifetime.
And so it's essential to know what causes these cat-eye infections, the signs and symptoms beyond those runny eyes, and the conventional as well as natural treatments that will give a cat relief.
But first, let's talk about the prognosis.
How Serious is a Cat Eye Infection?
Seeing your pet in discomfort and pain can be quite scary for new pet owners, but is also worrisome for experienced pet parents too. The good news is that the most common eye infections can be easily cured with antibiotics and sometimes even natural homemade remedies. In these cases, and with early detection and treatment your pet will recover quickly and return to their routines of pouncing, playing, and cuddling in no time.
However it is important to note that some cat eye infections can be more serious in nature and may require urgent care at a veterinarian. For example, if your cat is more tired than usual, excessively rubbing their eyes, and experiencing problems breathing, there could be an underlying health complication that needs to be taken care of by visiting a vet. In these severe cases if the infection is not treated quickly it can become so severe that it may lead to blindness or even death.
What is important is to get the right diagnosis and the best treatment as fast as possible.
But first, how do you determine the urgency of your pet's infection?
The first step is to understand the different signs and symptoms that can help you to identify whether your cat actually has an eye infection. Next we will discuss common treatments your vet may recommend. At the end we will also cover some natural remedies and procedures you can do at home to ease your kitty’s discomfort.
Signs and Symptoms of Cat Eye Infection
Your cat has more in common with you than you think. Veterinarians say that the first signs of a cat-eye infection are very similar to those experienced by humans.
If your pet displays any of the following symptoms for more than a few days they could very well have an eye infection:
- Red eyes – The white of your pet's eyes may turn red.
- Weepy/watery eyes – Your cat may appear as though they are crying. Their faces may even be a little damp from tears.
- Discharge at the corner of eyes and under eyelids – The discharge may be clear, yellow, green, or white.
- Excessive rubbing, blinking, or constant squinting – It will be a bother for your pet.
- Avoidance of light – They may become extremely sensitive to light and hide under a bed or blanket.
- An inflamed third eyelid – The third eyelid may swell or become visible when the cat is not blinking.
Crusty eyes – Pus may gather and harden near
the tear ducts.
These signs and symptoms may affect one eye or both. It's also common for your feline to display only one of the above symptoms, especially in the early stages of illness. However, as it progresses, others may appear.
If your furry companion has an underlying health condition, they may also experience fever, sneezing, lethargy, lack of appetite, and weight loss. Cats with pre-existing conditions that start to display other new symptoms should always be seen by a vet.
Now that you can spot the signs and symptoms, the next step is to understand what may be causing the infection.
The Causes Behind Cat Eye Infections
Not all infections are equal. Some are contagious and, some are not. Some are more likely to impact older cats while others are commonly found in younger ones. It all depends on what is triggering the eye-infection.
Here are some of the most common causes along with their treatments:
1. Conjunctivitis (Pink-eye)
Conjunctivitis, one of the most common feline eye disorders, is an inflammation of the thin mucous membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the inner surface of a cat's eyelids and coats the outer surface of the eyeball.
According to Cornell Feline Health Centre, "Many cats will experience at least a mild episode of the condition at some point in their lives."
If your kitty has conjunctivitis (which may be infectious or non-infectious), they will likely have a combination of red eyes, frequent blinking, and discharge running at the corner of their eyelids. In some instances, the conjunctiva and third eye may protrude due to swelling.
Infectious agents like bacteria, fungi, and viruses such as Feline Herpesvirus, Chlamydophila Felis, and Mycoplasma are the usual culprits behind this type of conjunctivitis.
If your kitty has this type, it is best to keep them away from your other pets and animals. If you're worried about getting "pink-eye" from your furry friend, it's possible—but not very likely. Veterinarians believe that although most eye diseases in cats are viral, they aren't easily transmitted to humans.
On the other hand, it is not always a virus that can cause conjunctivitis. Sometimes it doesn't take much to trigger an episode of conjunctivitis. As much as a speck of dust finding its way behind your cat's eyelid can cause some trouble. Mold, aerosols like air fresheners or bug spray, and even pet shampoo can irritate their eyes.
Besides lilies and daffodils which are very toxic to cats, pollen from other plants like oleanders, tulips, and Spanish thyme can lead to this kind of infection. You'll want to keep these away from your home just to be safe. Practically anything can be considered an irritant. Your cat's eyes are just that sensitive!
Conventional Treatment for Cat Conjunctivitis
Your vet will likely prescribe special eye drops for the infected eyes for a couple of days in a row or even weeks. If the condition is caused by bacteria, the vet will most likely prescribe an antibiotic. If it is triggered by environmental irritants, soothing drops may be given to relieve your feline of the strain. The severity of the case will always influence the length of treatment.
Application of the drops can be an uncomfortable scenario for your pet; they may be a little fussy in the process so it is recommended to have another family member or friend present to lend a hand.
In instances where conjunctivitis is caused by a greater underlying health condition, anti-viral medication, steroid-based ointments, or other anti-inflammatory medication may be administered by a vet. If you are not able to get your pet to the vet right away, you can do your part to relieve your fur baby's discomfort by placing a damp, warm cloth over their eyes.
2. Upper Respiratory Infections
What does breathing have to do with eye-infections? It's not as far-fetched as you may think. When you and I catch, we'll experience the typical symptoms; sneezing, a runny nose, and discharge gathering at your eyelids. These are very similar to those experienced by your cat when they’ve got a flu.
Upper respiratory infections, most commonly caused by viruses such as Feline Calicivirus, Chlamydia, Bordetella, and other fungus, targets the airways causing breathing challenges for your kitty.
Discharge around the eyes is also generally an accompanying symptom.
This is especially true for older cats and young kittens. If you've adopted a sweet cat from a shelter, rescued an older feral cat, or you're nursing a new-born and you've noticed them having flu-like symptoms, they may have an upper respiratory infection.
Senior cats as well as feral cats who have weakened immune systems are likely to develop recurring eye-infections as a result of respiratory illnesses.
Conventional Treatments for Upper Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections can also have many triggers and so may be difficult to diagnose. Because the cause of many eye-infections stems from an upper respiratory infection, treatments should also address this core issue.
You can care for uncomplicated respiratory infections right from the comfort of your home through the following methods:
- Increasing environmental humidification – Place your pet within a steamy bathroom for 10-15 minutes a day. It will help to clear the nasal passages.
- Minimize irritation caused by runny eyes and nose – Regularly wipe the discharge from around their eyes and nose by using a moist tissue.
- Facilitate easy feeding – A congested cat may have a decreased appetite due to the reduced sense of smell. As they will need the nutrients from food to help fight the infection feed them their favorite moist healthy cat food.
Discover more great at-home treatment ideas here .
If your cat is dehydrated, depressed, or has a severe case of illness, see your veterinarian right away as they may need to prescribe more intensive supportive treatment.
Epiphora occurs when their tear ducts become blocked due to allergies, conjunctivitis, irritants, abnormal tear drainage, and other serious conditions.
When your pet is battling Epiphora, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Reddish-brown stains under the eyes and near the nose
- Constant wetness around the eyes
- Crust around the eyes
- Swollen eyelids and face
- Excessive blinking and squinting (due to pain)
- Rubbing eyes and face
- Red and or cloudy eyes
If your cat is displaying any of these symptoms, take them to a veterinarian right away especially if the signs appear suddenly.
Conventional Treatments for Epiphora
The course of treatment will dependent on the cause of the infection. Medication is often given first to clean the stains. If there is a bacterial cause, antibiotics will be administered. Surgery may also be recommended to repair tear ducts or remove blockages.
While you await medical attention, soothe your cat by using a warm compress with sterile water.
Uveitis is a painful eye infection that can lead to complete blindness if not treated properly. This condition occurs when the uveal tract (consists of the iris, ciliary body, and choroid) becomes inflamed or damaged.
You'll know that your pet has Uveitis when their eyes are red and cloudy; or they're squinting and are avoiding light. In some cases, the cat may paw away at the sore eye.
Causes of Uveitis can range widely from blunt trauma, feline leukemia, immune system disorder, other tumors, bacteria like Bartonella, mycobacterium, and even internal parasites. Unfortunately, this condition does not go away on its own especially if it's caused by a serious disease. Taking your feline friend to the vet is highly recommended.
Conventional Treatments for Uveitis
Uveitis causes are difficult to diagnose so comprehensive diagnostic testing will be done to allow a vet to prescribe the right course of treatment.
The Animal Eye Clinic states that inflammatory steroidal or non-steroidal medications may be used 2 to 4 times a day depending on the severity of Uveitis. These medications fight viruses such as the feline herpesvirus which is commonly carried by cats. Sometimes, a vet may even prescribe oral inflammatory therapy or immune-system boosting cat supplements.
5. Corneal Ulcers
A cat’s cornea is very sensitive and an untreated scratch on the surface of a cat's eye can result in a corneal ulcer. When this occurs, you'll notice discharge, reddening of the eyes due to inflammation, a cloudy cornea along with the other general signs associated with vision problems.
Causes of corneal ulcers can be as 'minor' as ingrown eyelashes or dirt under the eyelid to more serious conditions such as:
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Exposure to harmful chemicals
- Blunt trauma during fight or play
- Dry eyes
Speed in diagnosis is essential to ensure your pet doesn't lose their sight when they've received corneal ulceration. The earlier the situation is detected and taken care of, the better!
Conventional Treatments for Ulcers
Corneal Ulcers create such painful experiences for your feline; that anti-inflammatory pain relievers may be prescribed to give relief. In other instances, a protective contact lens may be inserted to reduce irritation to the eyelid.
If the ulcer is deep, your vet may even recommend surgery to correct the issue. A less invasive treatment is to remove the loose layers of the cornea using a sterile cotton swab
Once your feline has received professional healthcare, you'll need to create an extra comfy space at home to facilitate the rest of their recovery. Expect them to be tired after post-surgical situations. It is important to keep them calm and as still as possible to give their eyes time to heal; ideally, for at least two weeks.
Natural Treatments for Cat Eye Infections
There are times when you may not be able to get immediate veterinarian care for your pet so we have compiled a few home remedies you can do to give your kitty cat the much needed relief right now.
They aren't magic recipes; however, it can be a great help when you begin noticing those first signs of eye-infection.
For Cleaning the Eyes
What You'll Need
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of lukewarm water
- Cotton balls
Mix salt with lukewarm water
Soak the cotton ball in the solution for a few seconds
Squeeze a few drops from the cotton ball into your cat's eyes to rinse them.
Clean the edges of the eyelids and remove any crusty build-up present.
To Soothe the Eyes
Compresses of warm water can also be placed on your cat's eyes a few minutes at a time, a few times a day to improve your cat's comfort.
What You'll Need
- A Bowl
- A Hand Towel
Fill the bowl with water that feels lukewarm to the touch.
Soak the towel in the water, wringing out the excess.
Fold the towel into a square and apply it to your cat's eye.
Your cat probably won't like the process so expect a little fight; they'll thank you after for sure.
Try our Homeopathic Cat-Eye Infection Therapy
Our Cat-Eye Infection Remedy is so gentle on your feline's body yet will powerfully fortify their immune systems to fight eye-infections caused by an upper respiratory infection, conjunctivitis, inflammation of the cornea, Epiphora, bacterial/viral infections, nerve damage, and even allergies.
The careful blend of herbs such as Arnica, Baptisia, Echinacea, Hepar Sulph, and Aconite will help to restore your kitty’s eye health to optimum levels from the inside, and without struggling to administer eye drops to your kitty cat!
Give it a try and share with us your pet's healing story - your feedback truly helps us to help more pets.
Cat-eye infections can happen to any happy feline. However, the good news is that it won't last forever. With the correct diagnosis and the right natural solution your kitty can start to feel better fairly quickly, even if you can't get to a vet right away!
We wish your sweet kitty good health!