Eye infections in cats can be caused by a variety of issues from bacterial or viral infections to injuries or other more serious underlying conditions. Here, our South Florida vets share some home remedies for eye infections in cats.
Causes of Eye Infections in Cats
The causes of eye infections in cats can be divided into two basic categories: infectious conditions and non-infectious conditions.
Common Infectious Conditions:
- Bacterial infection of the eye
- Viral infection of the eye
- Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR)
- Feline herpesvirus
- Feline calicivirus
Common Non-Infectious Conditions:
- Hereditary conditions
- Foreign body in the eye (ie: grass seed or sand)
- Autoimmune disease
Signs of a Cat Eye Infection
If your cat is suffering from an eye infection you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- The whites of your cat's eye may turn red
- Clear, yellow, or green discharge from the eye
- Winking or squinting
- Rubbing or pawing at one or both eyes
- The third eyelid may be protruding and covering part of the irritated eye
Your cat's symptoms may affect one or both eyes. Often a cat will only show symptoms in one eye but the infection then spreads to the other eye.
Upper respiratory infections frequently cause eye irritation. Symptoms of URIs in cats (cat colds) include sneezing or nasal discharge.
If your cat exhibits any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your primary care veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent the infection from spreading to the other eye, becoming more severe, or spreading to other pets in your household or neighborhood.
Treatment & Home Remedies for Eye Infections in Cats
Your vet or veterinary ophthalmologist will determine the best treatment for your cat's eye infection based on an assessment of your cat's overall health. If the eye infection is the primary concern your vet may recommend a topical treatment for your cat's eye such as Terramycin® or Vetropolycin®. If however, your cat's eye infection is due to an underlying condition such as FeLV or Calicivirus, the underlying condition may be the focus of the treatment. Treatments for underlying conditions will depend on the nature of the disease but may include oral antibiotics, immune boosters, or other treatments.
Many of the following treatment options can be purchased at your local pet store and can be easily applied at home. Others may need to be prescribed by your vet.
Terramycin® Ophthalmic Ointment - Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride
- Terramycin eye ointment is a broad-spectrum treatment for eye infections in cats, including conjunctivitis, keratitis, and pink eye, as well as corneal ulcers, blepharitis, and bacterial inflammatory conditions that can occur as a result of other infectious diseases.
Vetropolycin® Veterinary Ophthalmic Ointment - Bacitracin-Neomycin-Polymyxin
- Vetropolycin® is a triple antibiotic ointment often prescribed by vets for the treatment of bacterial infections of the eyelid and conjunctiva in cats.
Tetracycline Ophthalmic Ointment
- Tetracycline eye ointment may be prescribed by your vet if your cat is suffering from Chlamydophila or Mycoplasma conjunctivitis
Azithromycin Oral Antibiotic
- Azithromycin can be used to treat Chlamydophila or Mycoplasma conjunctivitis, as well as underlying bacterial infections like respiratory tract infections and Bartonella, which can affect your cat's eyes.
Topical Corticosteroid Ointment or Drops
- Corticosteroids are frequently prescribed to treat eye inflammation. These drops and ointments are most commonly used in cats to treat conjunctivitis, episcleritis, scleritis, pannus, and eosinophilic keratitis.
- L-lysine is an amino acid supplement that can help cats with feline herpes virus infections. Although research into the efficacy of this product is ongoing, there is anecdotal evidence that lysine may help to suppress the symptoms of the feline herpes virus.
- Interferon alfa is an immunomodulator and antiviral used to treat viral diseases in cats such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or papillomatosis. Although research into the effectiveness of this treatment is ongoing, your veterinarian may believe it is worth a try to help your cat fight infections.
Can I Use Neosporin on My Cat's Eye Infection?
Many human medications are toxic or otherwise dangerous for pets. This is especially true for cats since their compact size means that even the tiniest amounts of a dangerous substance could put your cat's life at risk.
Neosporin is a topical antibiotic ointment that is effective in humans but is not recommended for cats. There have been reports of cats having life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to the antibiotic ingredients in Neosporin's ophthalmic preparations, which include neomycin and polymyxin B.
Contact your vet for appropriate treatments for your cat's eye infection.
How Fast Treatment Should Take Effect
Eye infections in cats usually clear up quickly once treatment begins. Having said that, it is critical to continue treatment according to your vet's instructions even after your cat's symptoms have resolved! Do not discontinue treatment until the prescription period has expired. Stopping your cat's antibiotics too soon may result in a resurgence of the infection, making it more difficult to eradicate.
If there is an underlying condition causing your cat's symptoms, the effectiveness and speed of the treatment will depend upon the condition being treated and your cat's overall health. Your vet will be sure to provide you with a prognosis for your cat's recovery.
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.