Preventing Cat Conjunctivitis With Oral Antibiotics

Many cats suffer from ongoing eye problems, and one of the most common causes is cat conjunctivitis. This condition can affect one or both eyes of the cat; red eyes are the most obvious symptom. The causes are varied but the symptoms are usually the same:
  • Red, swollen membranes in the eye
  • Squinting in one or both eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Crusty eyes

Feline conjunctivitis is also known as cat pink eye because of the red, inflamed condition presented by the illness.

Causes of Cat Pink Eye

Some cats have facial features that predispose them to conjunctivitis. Flat-faced cats such as Persians have a higher incidence. Some cats have a congenital eye defect such as a blocked tear duct or ingrown eyelash that can cause conjunctivitis. Usually, the cause is an infection caused by one of three agents. The feline Herpes virus-rhinotracheitis-causes respiratory infection in cats. Most cats are vaccinated against this viral invader, but it only serves to lessen the severity, not prevent it entirely. Two other infectious agents can cause conjunctivitis, and they are feline Chlamydia and feline Mycoplasma. Chlamydia and Mycoplasma respond well to treatment with antibiotics.

Treating Cat Conjunctivitis

The typical treatment for feline conjunctivitis involves a course of antibiotics; cats usually respond to treatment quickly.

Antibiotics are administered in several ways. Drops or ointments that are placed in the eye, injections are made under the conjunctiva or antibiotics are injected or ingested in liquid or pill form. Chlamydia infections are often treated with both an oral antibiotic as well as eye drops.

If there is more than one cat in the household, all should be treated because Chlamydia spreads quickly.

  1. When administering eye drops to your cat, it helps to have an assistant, especially if you're new to the procedure.
  2. Hold your cat firmly. It may help to wrap her in a blanket or towel to prevent an unintentional clawing.
  3. Gently wipe any discharge off the eye area with a rag and warm water.
  4. If you're working alone, hold the cat on your lap with her legs facing out.
  5. Hold the drops in your dominant hand and gently cradle your cat's jaw in your other hand.
  6. Anchor your dominant hand on her forehead, holding the opened eye drops about one-half inch from her eye.
  7. Using the hand cradling the jaw, pull the eyelid down slightly. Squeeze the dosage into her eye and allow her to close the eye. Do not touch the eye with the dropper.

Antibiotics eye drops are usually applied four to six times per day for a multi-week period. Your skills will increase as you go. Your cat will never love getting eye drops, but as her condition improves and your administering technique gets better, it will be less of a battle to give the drops.