Conjunctivitis in Cats

icon March 15, 2024

What is Conjunctivitis in Cats?

Conjunctivitis in cats, also known as "pink eye," is a common eye condition that affects cats of all ages. It is characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin, transparent tissue that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids.

Cat Conjunctivitis

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis in Cats

  • Redness and swelling of the conjunctiva.
  • Watery or thick discharge from the eye.
  • Squinting or keeping the eye closed.
  • Excessive blinking.
  • Cloudiness or ulceration of the cornea in severe cases.
  • Rubbing or pawing at the eye.
  • Sensitivity to light.

Conjunctivitis -Ophthalmic Suspension

What Causes Conjunctivitis in Cats?

Conjunctivitis in cats can have both infectious and noninfectious causes. Here are some of the common causes for each category:

Infectious Causes

  • Bacterial infections

Bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, or other bacteria can cause conjunctivitis in cats.

  • Viral infections

Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV) are two common viral causes of conjunctivitis in cats. These viruses often cause upper respiratory infections as well.

  • Chlamydophila felis

This bacterium is another common cause of conjunctivitis in cats, especially in kittens.

Noninfectious Causes

  • Allergic conjunctivitis

Cats can develop conjunctivitis as a result of allergies to environmental factors such as pollen, dust mites, certain chemicals, or food.

  • Irritant conjunctivitis

Exposure to irritants like smoke, chemicals, or foreign objects can lead to conjunctivitis.

  • Trauma or injury

Eye trauma, such as scratches, foreign bodies, or other injuries, can cause conjunctivitis.

  • Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)

Insufficient tear production can lead to inflammation of the conjunctiva.
Immune-mediated conjunctivitis: In some cases, the cat's immune system may mistakenly target and attack the conjunctiva, leading to inflammation.

Cat Conjunctivitis Treatment

The treatment for cat conjunctivitis will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. It's important to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Here are some common treatment approaches:

Anti-inflammatory painkillers

NSAIDs are very effective in reducing pain and inflammation (swelling).

Bacterial infections/ Chlamydophila felis

  • Tetracycline ophthalmic ointment.
  • Azithromycin oral antibiotic.
  • Neomycin Sulfate (cat conjunctivitis eye drops)

Conjunctivitis -Ophthalmic Suspension

Viral infections

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Cat Conjunctivitis Home Remedy

While it's always best to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for cat conjunctivitis, there are a few home remedies you can try to provide some relief for your cat. However, these remedies should only be used in mild cases until you can seek proper medical attention. 

  • Warm Compresses

Applying a warm compress to your cat's closed eyes can help soothe the inflammation and remove any discharge. Use a clean cloth or gauze soaked in warm water (not hot) and gently apply it to the eyes for a few minutes, several times a day.

  • Saline Solution

A saline solution can be used to gently clean your cat's eyes and remove any debris or discharge. You can make a saline solution at home by dissolving 1/4 teaspoon of salt in one cup of boiled water. Let it cool completely before use. Use a clean cotton ball or soft cloth to gently wipe away any discharge.

  • Herbal Eye Rinse

Some herbal solutions, such as honeysuckle, and chamomile tea, can have soothing properties. Brew a cup of chamomile tea, let it cool completely, and then use it as an eye rinse by gently applying it to your cat's eyes with a clean cloth or cotton ball. Or buy eye washes containing honeysuckle extract. However, make sure the tea is completely cooled and avoid using any tea bags or products containing other additives.

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Boric acid, borneol, honeysuckle extract, cranberry extract, lutein, etc.

  • Nutrition and Hydration

Provide your cat with a balanced diet and ensure they have access to fresh water at all times. Proper nutrition and hydration can support their overall health and immune system.

Remember, these home remedies are not meant to replace professional veterinary care. If your cat's conjunctivitis does not improve within a day or two, worsens, or if your cat shows signs of discomfort or other symptoms, it's crucial to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They can provide the most effective treatment options based on your cat's specific condition.

How Long Does Conjunctivitis Last in Cats Without Treatment?

Without treatment, the duration of conjunctivitis in cats can vary widely. In some cases, mild cases of conjunctivitis may resolve on their own within a few days to a week. However, more severe or persistent cases may last several weeks or even longer.


Can Conjunctivitis Cause Blindness in Cats?

Conjunctivitis itself typically does not cause blindness in cats. However, if left untreated or if there are underlying complications, conjunctivitis can lead to more serious eye conditions that may potentially result in vision loss. Some of these complications include:

  • Corneal ulcers
  • Uveitis
  • Secondary infections: Conjunctivitis can weaken the eye's natural defenses, making it more susceptible to secondary bacterial or viral infections. These infections can be more severe and potentially affect the deeper structures of the eye, leading to complications that may impact vision.

What is the Best Treatment for Herpes Conjunctivitis in Cats?

Herpes conjunctivitis, also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), is a common cause of conjunctivitis in cats. It is caused by the feline herpes virus (FHV-1). While there is no cure for the virus itself, treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing secondary complications.

The best treatment for herpes conjunctivitis in cats typically includes the following:

  • Antiviral Medications: Antiviral medications such as famciclovir or L-lysine are commonly prescribed to reduce viral replication and help control the symptoms. 
  • Eye Drops or Ointments: Veterinarians may prescribe eye drops or ointments containing antibiotics or antiviral agents to help reduce inflammation, relieve discomfort, and prevent secondary bacterial infections. These medications should be administered as directed by your veterinarian.
  • Supportive Care: Keeping the cat's eyes clean and free from discharge is important. Your vet may recommend using a warm, damp cloth to gently clean the affected area. They may also suggest using artificial tears or lubricating ointments to soothe the eyes.

Will Cat Conjunctivitis Go Away by Itself?

In some cases, mild cases of cat conjunctivitis may resolve on their own without treatment. However, it's important to note that leaving conjunctivitis untreated can prolong the duration of the condition and potentially lead to complications.

Is Conjunctivitis Contagious in Cats?

Yes, conjunctivitis can be contagious in cats. If a cat has infectious conjunctivitis caused by a viral or bacterial infection, it can spread the infection to other cats through direct contact or through contaminated objects such as bedding, food bowls, or litter boxes. The infection can be transmitted through discharge from the affected eye or by an infected cat rubbing its face on surfaces that other cats may come into contact with.


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