Cat Conjunctivitis Symptoms

Cat conjunctivitis is commonly known as red eyes and is actually an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the tissue of the eyelids and when the tissue is infected, the eyes have a red aspect. The irritation of the conjunctiva can be caused by allergies to pollens, mold, chemicals or by viruses, fungi and bacteria. The symptoms depend on the cause, but in all cases, the eyes will be swollen and red.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis in Cats

Conjunctivitis in cats may manifest itself in various ways, depending on what causes the infection or irritation.

The conjunctiva will be swollen as fluids are retained in the area. Regardless if the condition is caused by allergies or infections, the cat will have watery eyes.

There will be a discharge which will vary in consistency according to the cause of conjunctivitis.

If the discharge is transparent, the condition is caused by allergies.

If the discharge is yellow or greenish and is more consistent, the red eyes are caused by a virus, bacteria or fungi. In severe cases, the cat’s eyes will be shut and you may also notice pus coming out of the eyes. The pus is actually an accumulation of white blood cells, which are meant to fight off the infection.

Cats have a third eyelid, which will be visible and will cover partially or totally the eye until the condition is treated.

Conjunctivitis causes irritation and itchiness and you may often find your cat rubbing his face against different objects or scratching his eyes with his paws.

The condition causes pain, so the cat may be irritable and often show signs of aggressiveness. 

Conjunctivitis Treatment

Conjunctivitis is treated according to the cause of the condition. The vet will get a culture of the eye discharge and determine the cause. Scrapings of the conjunctiva may be needed to determine if the infection is viral.

The treatment will consist of oral antibiotics and eye drops or ointments. The eye drops will contain antibiotics or steroids. If the cat has corneal ulcers, hydrocortisone creams or drops should be avoided.

The ointments may be fungicides or bactericidal creams, depending on the cause of the red eyes.

The cat will need up to 2 weeks to heal.

If the conjunctivitis is caused by allergies, the vet will prescribe a few anti inflammatories or antihistamines. Further tests will be needed to establish the cause of allergies and find a long term treatment that works for your cat.

Your cat may need a lamp shade collar, to prevent him from scratching the eyes and removing the ointments with his paws.

If left untreated, the condition caused by infections may cause loss of vision, as the virus, bacteria or fungi can affect the rest of the eyes. Advanced cases of conjunctivitis may lead to corneal ulcers, which are problematic to treat.

Chronic conjunctivitis may be a symptom of the feline immunodeficiency virus infection (FIV). If you notice that the condition is reoccurring, consult your vet.

If the conjunctivitis is caused by an infection, this is contagious. Allergies are not contagious.