An Introduction to Cat Pink Eye

Cat pink eye, also known as cat conjunctivitis, can be a chronic problem. This disease requires treatment to prevent further damage to the cat's eye. It's necessary to know the symptoms of cat conjunctivitis, so that it's treated before the infection advances and poses a risk to other cats.

What is Conjunctivitis?

A cat's eye contains the conjunctiva, a mucus membrane that surrounds the eyeball. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which leads to swelling and redness in the eye.

How Do Cats Contract Conjunctivitis?

Foreign objects that may enter the cat's eye could cause irritation and lead to conjunctivitis. However, the most common cause of cat pink eye is a viral infection such as Feline Herpes Virus (FIV). Bacteria like chlamydophilia can also cause it. The infection may occur in either one eye or both. Although other factors such as fungal infections trigger conjunctivitis in cats, the occurrence is rare.

Feline pink eye may also be attributed to congenital defects. Persian cats are born with a turned in eyelid, so their eyelashes constantly come in contact with the eyeball, causing conjunctivitis. Cats that suffer from conjunctivitis due to environmental factors will have a sudden onset of pink eye, followed by speedy recovery.

Cat pink eye that occurs due to infections is more chronic in nature. Feline herpes virus-1 can lay dormant for a long period and become active when the immune system is low. Cats with conjunctivitis often show symptoms of respiratory illness. This occurs when the cat develops conjunctivitis due to low immune system functioning and an active herpes virus-1 infection.

Symptoms of Cat Pink Eye

  • Swollen and inflamed eyelids
  • Eye has a visible pinkish color
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Discomfort and pain
  • Trouble blinking the eye

Diagnosis of Cat Pink Eye

The most important test to obtain a correct diagnosis of cat pink eye is the swab test. The vet will take a swab of the conjunctiva for a laboratory culture. If the condition isn't infectious, a small number of cells are scraped from the conjunctiva in a test called cytology. Blood tests can detect bacterial or viral infections present in the cat's body. DNA tests are also necessary to check for feline herpes virus-1.

Treatment of Cat Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis related to feline herpes virus cannot be cured completely. However, it can be well controlled with medication.

The vet will prescribe bacterial ointments or drops for pink eye caused by other factors. Fungicidal ointments should be applied to the surface of the eyes. These ointments last longer than the drops.

Conjunctivitis caused by chlamydia is treated with antibiotic medication. Antibiotic drops that contain hydrocortisone, neomycin and bacitracin effectively treat eye infections. Medication may also be injected under the conjunctiva, especially in cats that require frequent administration of drops or ointments.

Cat pink eye should be treated promptly. In cases of complications such as glaucoma, cats stand a risk of blindness. Watch for the symptoms and seek prompt medical help.