Treating Conjunctivitis in Cats
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the inner layer of the eye and the inner layer of the eyelid. Many forms of pink eye in cats are caused by allergens or irritants, such as dust and dirt. It's important to understand different types of pink eye. Some can be treated at home, but most cannot.
Conjunctivitis in Cats
When a cat suffers from mild conjunctivitis, this membrane looks pink and somewhat swollen. There will be clear, watery discharge. Sometimes conjunctivitis is a reaction to an irritant, such as wind, cold weather, dust, or allergens. This type can also be the first sign of feline viral respiratory disease.
Mild forms of conjunctivitis can be treated at home. The eye should be cleansed with a diluted solution of boric acid for opthalmic use. This can be purchased at drugstores or pharmacies and used as directed. You should see definite improvement within 24 hours. If not, have your cat examined by a veterinarian.
Severe Pink Eye
More severe pink eye is called purulent conjunctivitis. This type involves a secondary bacterial infection. In this case, the cat's eye will secrete thick discharge or pus which will dry and crust over the lid. When this type of conjunctivitis involves both eyes, the cat may be suffering from a viral respiratory illness. Two types of bacteria cause purulent conjunctivitis: chlamydia and mycoplasma. They can be detected on samples from the conjunctival membrane and observation under a microscope. Specific antibiotics are required to treat this condition, applied several times a day, so a veterinarian's exam and prescription is required.
Follicular conjunctivitis occurs when the cat's nictitating membrane, or "third eyelid", become inflamed. This can happen when simple irritants get under the membrane. The eye will produce more tears in order to clear the area. Occasionally the inflammation may be due to a foreign object in the eye. For this reason, it is important to have a vet look at the eye to determine whether the eye will be able to clear the irritant out itself or not.
Complex eye infections like these can be hard to treat. In these cases, the tear ducts themselves may become infected. Bring your cat in for an exam, if you are concerned that the infection is more complex.
Is it Safe to Use Eye Drops for Humans on a Cat?
Pink eye often clears up after specifically formulated feline eye drops are administered.
A commonly asked question is: Can I give my cat eye drops that were made for humans? While some eye drops can be used on both humans and cats, it is possible to deliver the wrong dose or use drops with preservatives that damage a cat's eyes. The concentration and dosage of the medication may be different. Before administering, always take your bottle of eye drops to a veterinarian and ask them if the drops would be suitable for your cat.