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  1. cats health and wellness

How to Gauge the Severity of a Cat Eye Infection

Posted by Dr. Roth on March 15, 2022

Medical Advice
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Cats generally have bright, clear eyes. If their eyes are cloudy with accumulated discharge, or they are constantly pawing at their eyes, something could be wrong. Redness in cat eyes, swollen cat eyes, or changes in cat behavior like excessive blinking or repetitive rubbing of the face against furniture could be signs of a cat eye infection. It’s important for pet parents to know how to gauge the severity of a cat eye infection to seek the proper treatment. 

Gauging Cat Eye Infections by Color of Discharge

Different colors and quality of eye discharge in cats could indicate different types of eye problems. That means pet parents should closely observe changes in their cats' eye discharge to determine if there’s a likely infection and what the severity might be.

  • Clear or brownish discharge: Normally, clear or brown discharge is due to tears overflowing when a cat’s eyes don’t drain the way they should. Pet parents can wipe off the eye discharge with a damp cloth.

  • Yellow or greenish eye discharge: Yellow or green eye discharge is generally due to a bacterial or viral infection. It's advisable to contact the cat’s primary vet if this kind of discharge is present.

Changes in Cat Eye Appearance That Indicate an Infection 

Monitoring the discharge alone may not be enough to determine the severity of cat eye infections. Pet parents should watch for any changes in the appearance of their cats' eyes and other sudden changes in behavior.

Pink Eye 

Inflammation of the light pink lining around a cat's eyes is called conjunctivitis or pink eye. One or both eyes could be swollen, red, teary, or seem sensitive to light. Conjunctivitis is a common eye disorder, and most cats experience a mild episode of it at least once in their lifetimes. If redness in cat eyes and other symptoms take more than a couple of days to subside, it’s advisable to talk to a vet.

Scratches Around the Eyes

Cats sometimes get poked in the eye by objects around them or by other cats while playing or fighting. Monitoring injuries like these is important. Scratches can go from minor to severe very quickly. It's appropriate to get advice from a vet if there are no signs of improvement after 48 hours.

Swelling Around the Eyes

Swelling around the eyes is usually accompanied by red and itchy eyelids. Pet parents may notice the cat pawing at the inflamed area and squinting or blinking repeatedly. Inflammation of the eyelids, known as blepharitis, could also progress to other areas surrounding the eyes. Swelling around a cat's eyes may indicate something more severe and requires a vet’s immediate attention. 

Raised, Lifted, or Red Nictitating Membrane

Cats have a third eyelid known as a nictitating membrane in the inner corners of their eyes. When they hunt for their prey, this membrane protects their eyes from injury. If their third eyelid is raised, lifted, swollen, or red, it may indicate something severe. When there is an ongoing eye infection and pet parents notice a change in their cat’s behavior — hiding, a lack of appetite, etc. — the cat may be in pain. It’s best for them to get their cat health questions answered by a vet to rule out anything serious.

Need More Advice?

It’s common for pet parents to have plenty of cat medical questions, especially around cat eye infections. The right approach at the right time is critical to their cats’ well-being. For more cat advice, pet parents can reach out to our Fuzzy Vet Team at any time. They’re always available via 24/7 Live Vet Chat.

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