Treating an Eye Irritation in Cats

An eye irritation in your cat can be the source of continuous meowing and pawing or scratching the eye area. The treatment of the eye irritation can be done at home, provided the irritation is not severe or caused by a foreign object trapped in the eye. Veterinary help should be sought if the cat’s condition tends to worsen even with treatment.

Saline Drops

Before applying any type of treatment, the eyes of the feline should be cleaned. This can be done with lukewarm water or saline drops.

Use a syringe and sprinkle some saline drops, making sure the solution gets in the cat’s eyes. Allow the cat to close his eyes. Gently rub the eye area, making sure the solution is effective and eyes will be cleaned. Wipe the eyes with a sterile gauze or cotton ball, removing all the impurities that may have been trapped in the cat’s eyes.

Steroid Drops

After the cat’s eyes are clean, you can administer some steroid drops (i.e. 2% cortisone drops), which can be obtained over the counter.

The steroid drops should reduce swelling and irritation, regardless of the source of irritation.

The steroid drops can be applied twice per day, using a sterile syringe (without needle).

However, if you suspect the eye irritation may be caused by a more serious condition, you should get some tests.


Antihistamines are effective if the cat’s irritation is caused by allergies. There are oral antihistamines that can be obtained as over the counter medication and can be used to block the formation of histamines, which are responsible for causing the eye irritation.

Make sure the cat has allergies and the eye irritation is not caused by a more severe underlying condition.

If the allergic reactions are severe, allergy shots should be considered as a long term treatment.

Remove Irritants

Removing the irritants is important in treating your pet’s condition and to prevent future eye irritation.

You can conduct a search to find out what are the possible allergens. Analyze the conditions leading to the eye irritation. Has the cat been exposed to some new chemicals lately? Is it pollen season? Did you get new bedding or a new crate?

There are numerous factors that you may not be aware of, especially if your cat tends to wander outdoors a lot.

If you cannot detect the irritant, you will have to get some veterinary tests.

Watch Out for Side Effects

Certain eye medication can cause side effects, which you need to recognize. Inform the vet if you observe symptoms such as swollen eye lids, sneezing or lethargy.

If the eye irritation persists and an at home treatment doesn’t prove to be effective, you will need to get veterinary help.

The cat may require oral antibiotics, which can be prescribed only by a specialist.

The cat may have something in his eyes causing the irritation and this needs to be extracted.