Keratitis in Cats' Eyes

Keratitis is a condition that affects the eyes of cats, and it may become a chronic disease that will ultimately affect the pet's vision. The condition will manifest through excessive tearing and ocular discharges. Keratitis can be treated once detected.

Causes of Keratitis in Felines

Keratitis is the swelling and irritation of the cornea, the protective layer of the eyeball. The condition can dry the cornea and for this reason, it is also known as 'dry eye.' The causes of keratitis are not precisely determined, but certain factors may be suspected:

  • The feline herpes virus
  • A foreign object that reaches the cornea
  • An eye injury
  • An eye infection

The condition may be more common in certain cat breeds, so a few genetic factors may also contribute to the occurrence of keratitis.

Symptoms of Keratitis

Keratitis is a condition that will manifest through a few symptoms, such as:

  • Excessive tearing
  • Ocular discharges, transparent and having the consistency of mucus
  • Frequent squinting
  • Light sensitivity, the cat will look for areas in the house that are darker
  • Pawing the face
  • Rubbing the eyes
  • Elevated fever
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lethargy

The cat may have keratitis in one or both eyes.

Types of Keratitis

There are several types of keratitis:

  • Ulcerative keratitis will be caused most likely by an eye injury.
  • Chronic degenerative keratitis is more common in certain breeds (i.e., Siamese), so it is believed to be caused by genetic factors or frequent eye infections.
  • Eosinophilic keratitis is a condition that starts as keratitis, but it evolves further until the cornea gets a pinkish hue and the affected eye is covered by a white film.

Diagnosing Keratitis

The cat that is suspected of having keratitis should be examined. The symptoms may easily be misinterpreted, because the cat may have an eye infection. The vet will collect some corneal tissue and analyze it under the microscope to see whether the cornea is damaged or if there are any viruses causing the irritation. A test employing rose Bengal will be performed. The solution will be applied on both eyes to see the degree to which the corneal tissue is affected. The vet will also establish how affected the eyes are and whether the condition is advanced or still treatable.

Keratitis Treatment in Cats

The keratitis may be treated if detected in the early stages. The typical course of treatment involves administering eye drops and antibiotic topical ointments. The cat will also require some supplements to boost his immune system. However, if the condition is caused by the feline herpes virus, the treatment may not work. The herpes virus can be prevented if vaccines are administered when the kitten is young. If left untreated, keratitis will lead to irreversible corneal tissue damage and blindness.