Signs Your Cat May Have Eye Problems
Cat owners should always be on the lookout for eye problems. Unlike dogs, who use a combination of sight, hearing and smell to become familiar with their surroundings, cats depend mostly on their eyesight for hunting and stalking their prey.
Watery eyes, frequent blinking, squinting, and pawing at their eyes, may all be signs that their eye is painful. Cats also have an extra eyelid, which is called the nictitating membrane. If this extra eyelid is visible then something is most likely wrong. You should then:
- Examine the eye to see if you can recognize the cause. The best way to examine the eye is by using a single light source such as a flashlight, preferably in a dark room. You can prevent the cat from panicking by using a pillowcase that is pinned around his neck, in order to restrain him. Remember, If your pet is frightened his eyes will dilate preventing you from making an accurate observation.
- Try comparing one eye to the other. Look to see if they are of the same shape, color and size. See if they bulge forward or are recessed backwards. A discharge might be present or the eye may be cloudy, hazy or smoky. To test for vision, cover one eye and touch the other several times with your finger. If the cat has vision he will blink when your finger approaches.
If your cat has a painful eye, you should seek immediate veterinary attention.
Signs and symptoms to look out for include:
- Discharge - A clear discharge without redness and pain indicates a problem in the tear drainage system. Any discharge should alert you to the possibility of cornea or inner eye involvement. A thick, sticky mucus discharge along with redness and inflammation indicates pink eye or conjunctivitis.
- Pain - Signs of pain include squinting, tearing, tenderness to touch and avoidance of light. The nictitating membrane may protrude in response to pain. The common causes of painful eye are injuries to the Cornea and disorders affecting the inner eye.
- Film over the eye - A whitish or opaque film which moves out over the surface of the eyeball is a protruded nictitating membrane.
- Cloudiness - Loss of clarity or transparency in the eye indicates an inner eye disorder. Disorders that can cause a cloudy eye are keratitis, glaucoma and cataracts.
- Hard or soft eye - Changes in eye pressure are caused by disorders of the inner eye. The pupil might become fixed and fail to respond to light. A hard eye with a dilated pupil indicates glaucoma. A soft eye with a small pupil indicates inflammation of the inner structure of the eye.
- Lid Irritation - These are conditions which cause swelling, crusting, itching, or hair loss of the eyelids.
- Bulging or Sunken Eye - These are abnormal contours and positions of the eye
- Abnormal Movements - These are eyes that focus in different directions or jerk back and forth
- Cross-Eyed Gaze - This is common among Siamese cats, and is accepted as normal, however other forms are caused by muscle paralysis.
Applying Eye Medicine (SEE VIDEO BELOW)
Steady your cat's head with one hand and draw down on the lower lid to expose the inner surface of the eyelid. Apply ointment to the inside of the lower lid. Application directed to the eyeball is irritating and may cause the cat to jerk his head and eye injury can occur.
Eye drops can be applied directly to the eyeball. Steady the heel of the hand in which you are holding the dropper against the side of your cat's head. Tilt the nose upward and drop the medicine into the inner corner of his eye. Rub the eyelids gently in order to disperse the medicine. Frequent application of eyedrops usually are necessary because they tend to wash out with tears.
Use only preparations that are specifically labeled for opthalmic use.
The source and diagnosis of any eye problems can usually be determined by one of the above symptoms. Pay very close attention to your cat to see if he/she exhibits one of them, and see your vet if necessary.
References: The Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M and James M. Giffin, M.D. - First Edition
Cat Eye Problems
- Eye Infections in Cats
Uveitis is an inflammation of the inner pigmented structures of the eye. It is one of the most common inner eye conditions of cats, in part because a number of feline infectious diseases can involve the eye.