Kittens often develop eye infections when they are between 8 and 14 days old. In this timeframe, their eyes are starting to open. While there a few potential causes for eye infections in kittens, our veterinary ophthalmologists in South Florida diagnose them most in homeless or barn cats.
Causes of Kitten Eye Infections
The mucus membrane (conjunctiva) likes the inner surface of a cat's eyeball and eyelids. Newborn kittens commonly experience eye infections here, potentially due to contact with infectious vaginal discharge in their mother's birth canal, or simply due to living in unhygienic environments in which the kitten is exposed to a host of bacteria and viruses.
Homeless kittens with eye infections are sometimes brought to animal shelters for treatment. Some bacteria and viruses that can lead to eye infections in kittens include:
- Herpesvirus (Feline viral rhinotracheitis or FVR)
- Staphylococcus spp. (bacteria)
- Streptococcus spp. (bacteria)
Symptoms of Eye Infections in Kittens
Depending on the cause of the infection, your kitten may experience various symptoms. The most common symptoms of kitten eye infections include:
- Clear or pus-like discharge
- Red, inflamed eyes and eyelids
- Eyelids sticking to the front of the eyes
- Swollen eyelids that bulge outward
- Collapsed eyeball
- Sores on the eye's surface
Diagnosing Kitten Eye Infections
At Animal Eye Guys, our board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists specialize in diagnosing and treating eye infections, diseases, disorders and abnormalities in cats and dogs. We also accept referrals from primary veterinarians.
Your vet will begin with a thorough examination of your kitten to access their overall health and to look for other signs of viral or bacterial infections. At that time the vet will ask for any information you may have regarding the mother's health and the kitten's living conditions.
If your kitten's eye infection may have been caused during birth, your vet may want to do a culture of the kitten's eye discharge and the mother's vaginal discharge (if possible) in order to more accurately identify the type of infection.
To check your kitten's eye for signs of trauma your vet may use eye drops containing a yellow dye to help make any scratches, or foreign objects easier to spot.
If your vet suspects that your kitten may have a systemic disease blood tests and urinalysis may be recommended to pinpoint any serious health conditions that your kitty may be suffering from.
Treatment For Eye Infections in Kittens
Your veterinary ophthalmologist in South Florida will gently moisten the kitten's eyes with warm water and coax the top and bottom eyelids apart as a first step in infection treatment. Once your kitten's eyes are open the vet will delicately wash the eye and eyelids to remove all signs of discharge, pus, or crust. When the eyes are clean your vet may apply a warm compress to help prevent the lids from sticking together again, then apply an antibiotic ointment to begin healing the infection.
You'll be provided with detailed instructions for your kitty's home care. Typically, your vet will instruct you to gently wash your kitten's eyes a couple of times a day to ensure that discharge doesn't build up, apply a warm compress, and then apply eye ointment or drops as prescribed.
Follow the instructions carefully. It is essential to finish the entire round of antibiotics as instructed, (finishing treatment before the infection has fully cleared could lead to a recurrence or other complications), and be diligent about keeping the bedding extra clean wherever the mother and kittens eat and rest.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.