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How to treat cat conjunctivitis

grey and white cat wrapped in his blanket advice © Shutterstock

Conjunctivitis is not the worst thing that can happen to your cat. But it does need dealing with. Treat cat conjunctivitis properly and make your cat more comfortable.

 

By G. John Cole

Dealing with cat conjunctivitis also prevents your cat from passing on the infection to other cats. So let’s take a closer look at how to treat cat conjunctivitis.

What is cat conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the moist layer of your cat’s eyes, known as the conjunctiva. Cat owners sometimes refer to the condition as ‘pink eye,’ because it makes your cat’s eyes look sore.
There are different types of conjunctivitis with different causes. As a virus or bacteria, it can be passed from cat to cat, particularly due to the discharge that it causes. But it can also be caused by allergies, or irritations such as dust or eyelashes. And sometimes it appears alongside a cough or cold.

Your cat can get conjunctivitis in one or both eyes. But if he gets it in one eye, it can spread to the other.

How to prevent conjunctivitis

You can never be sure of preventing conjunctivitis as there are so many different causes, some of which are out of human control. But you can limit the chances of your cat getting the illness by addressing those individual risks.

The most obvious way is to get your cat properly vaccinated against illnesses like flu that can reduce its immune system. And you can be careful to avoid having known allergens around your home. Finally, keep your cat away from sick or unvaccinated cats. For owners of multiple cats, that includes keeping your cats apart from each other if one of them gets conjunctivitis.

Symptoms of cat conjunctivitis

It’s hard to miss cat conjunctivitis. The ol’ pink eye will manifest through reddening and soreness of the critter’s eye or eyes. This soreness may make your cat blink a lot or squint. 

Feline conjunctivitis also causes discharge from a cat’s eyes. However, this discharge can take on different appearances. It might be clear or yellowy-green, runny or sticky. Separately from this, your cat’s eyes may become watery.
Treating cat conjunctivitis

If your cat has symptoms of conjunctivitis, you need to take him to the vet. Your cat’s vet will determine what is the type and cause of your cat’s illness. This is important to make sure you get the right treatment.

For example, if an allergy is to blame then you can either remove the allergen from your cat’s life, or obtain anti-allergy medication. If it is viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, the cat’s vet will likely prescribe antibiotics or give the creature a shot via injection. 

Sometimes, the vet will recommend surgery to deal with extreme symptoms of conjunctivitis, for example if your cat’s tear ducts have become blocked.

Feline conjunctivitis home treatment

While it is possible to get cat conjunctivis treatment over the counter, it’s important to take your cat to the vet first so that you know what treatment he needs.
When herpes virus is the cause, it’s possible to use an amino acid called Lysine to suppress it. Vets recommend using 1000mg/day during illness, and 250mg for general maintenance of your cat until around a month after the illness has passed.

As for natural remedies for conjunctivitis in cats, weirdly enough vinegar seems to have a soothing effect. Just don’t put it near your cat’s eyes! Rather, you might try soaking a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and rubbing it on the back of your cat’s neck.

But there are more straightforward home solutions you can try to make your cat more comfortable while it’s sick.

For example, you can clean the area around the eye with a damp piece of cotton wool. And you can flush the eye itself with fresh water. Keep a watch out for foreign bodies in the eye while you do this – an eyelash or bit of dirt may be what’s causing the problem. If you’re feeling brave, use a cotton bud to remove the foreign body.

You can also use a sterile saline solution to clean the eye. Holding a cool, wet tea bag against your cat’s eye for a few minutes may provide some relief.
But don’t forget to check in with the vet first. Your cat’s eyes are important: without them, what would it glare at you with?