Are Some Cat Breeds More Likely To Have Watery Eyes
Both conjunctivitis and congenital allergies can impact cats of any age, sex, or breed.
Bacterial infections that can cause conjunctivitis are transmitted in a variety of ways. For instance, bacteria can be passed between cats in a multi-cat household or between outdoor cats. But even if your cat is an only child who lives for the comforts of indoor life, theyre still susceptible to bacteria if they interact with contaminated items, like that dirty shoe they keep attacking. Bacteria doesnt discriminate, so if a cat is exposed, they can contract a bacterial infection regardless of their breed.
The leading cause of conjunctivitis, Feline Herpes Virus, is also common, and every breed is susceptible. In fact, over 90% of cats live with FHV.4
Similarly, any cat, regardless of breed, can be born with a congenital allergy.
Is Feline Herpes Contagious
Feline herpes is contagious. The virus spreads through respiratory fluids such as saliva and discharge from the nose or eyes, including when a cat sneezes.
Herpes can spread through direct contact or indirectly. The most common cause of indirect contact is peoplewhen a person pets a sick cat, then pets a healthy cat. Indirect spread also occurs when objects are contaminated with the virus. If a sick cat eats out of a food bowl, and then a healthy cat eats out of the same food bowl, the healthy cat could get herpesvirus.
Feline herpes is very specific to cats. Cats cannot give it to humans, to dogs, or to any other species of animal.
Diagnosing Feline Herpes Virus
Although it’s one of the most common causes of upper respiratory disease in cats, feline herpes virus isn’t the only thing that can cause upper respiratory signs in your cat. There are subtle differences, though, and you vet will hone in on a diagnosis of feline herpes virus based on your cat’s symptoms, history, and physical exam.
Your vet may perform a test called a fluorescein stain to check for a corneal ulcer caused by severe keratitis. They may also perform a Schirmer tear test to see if your cat’s tear production is abnormally low.
If you want a definitive diagnosis of feline herpes virus, your vet will need to take swabs of your cat’s ocular discharge, nasal discharge, and/or of the back of their throat. These swabs will be sent to a lab where they will undergo a specialized test called a Polymerase Chain Reaction . This test allows the viral particles to be amplified and thus isolated and identified. However, if your cat isn’t in an active stage of infection, there won’t be any viral particles being shed and this PCR test will be inconclusive.
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Medication For Feline Herpes
When cats are not very active, are very congested, or have a lot of yellow-green discharge from the eyes or nose, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics. This will eliminate any secondary bacterial infections. Antibiotics will also often shorten the course of disease.
Depending on your cats symptoms, your veterinarian may prescribe either antibiotics by mouth or into the eye. The best choice of antibiotics by mouth for an upper respiratory infection include doxycycline and azithromycin. Some choices of antibiotics in the eyes include erythromycin, Terramycin, tobramycin, or ofloxacin.
While antibiotics may help shorten the length of time your kitty is feeling ill, they will not treat the virus itself. A very common antiviral medication taken by mouth in cats to kill herpesvirus is called famciclovir. It has limited side effects and is most often used when cats have one of the more uncommon conditions, such as keratitis, stomatitis or dermatitis. It may also be used when cats have chronic symptoms related to herpes such as chronic congestion or eye infection.
How Do Cat Eye Drops Work
Cat eye drops are much like human eye drops for cats, except that they are specially formulated for the cats’ eyes. They help make your cats’ eyes feel comfortable and free from symptoms of eye infections, allergies, inflammation, or conjunctivitis. With proper usage, this type of medication may alleviate symptoms like watery eyes, redness, itchiness, dry eyes, or stinging eye pain.
They work by flushing irritants out of your cats’ eyes. Think of this product as a way to clean and lubricate your cat’s eye to free it from any foreign material like dirt or allergens.
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Features To Consider When Buying Cat Eye Drops
One product that cat owners should have on hand is a bottle or two of eye drops for their cats, especially if their furry friends frequently experience allergies or conditions that directly affect their eyes.
Cats that wander in and out of the house may occasionally get some irritants like dirt and dust in their eyes. Hence, even perfectly healthy cats would greatly benefit if their fur parents have readily available eye drops at home.
Since this type of medication often addresses symptoms and is not directly used for a full treatment of any ailment, they are safe to use daily. When buying, find a medication with these features to ensure that you get the best product for your furry friends:
Safe Ingredients. Examine the ingredients list and make sure that the eye drops you’re getting are entirely safe to use even without a prescription from a veterinarian. One example of a safe ingredient is hypochlorous acid, a safe antimicrobial agent. Bear in mind that the use of incorrect medication may result in further irritation which we do not want to happen. If you find products that contain alcohol or bleaching agent, it’s best to avoid them.
Application.Find a product that is easy to apply. Some drops may come with droppers, which make it a lot easier for cat owners to administer the application of eye drops on their fur babies.
Nursing A Cat With Feline Herpes Virus
Home nursing of the cat with FVR is make or break. Usually these cats feel lousy and have lost their sense of smell, which means they lose their appetite and hitch a ride on a downward spiral of deterioration.
Whilst there is not drug proven to kill herpes virus the vet may prescribe antibiotics against secondary bacterial infections and to protect the cat at risk of pneumonia. In addition, ask your vet if decongestants are appropriate. Usually this is a powder you mix with food that helps to break down mucus and snot. This makes it easier for you to keep kittys nose clean, which helps her smell food and eat.
Keep her nose as clean as possible, and wipe her eyes with cotton balls soaked in boiled water, as often as needed to prevent the eyes gumming shut. To help her appetite chose smelly foods such as fish, and warm it up so that it gives off even more odour. Hand feeding usually goes down a storm as cats love the attention, and also try touching food to her gums so she gets the taste in her mouth.
Stress suppresses the immune system which allows the herpes virus to get a hold, so keep stress to a minimum and consider using synthetic feline pheromones such as Feliway to keep the cats chilled.
Image: Magic Madzik via Flickr
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Clinical Manifestations Of Disease
In kittens, primary FHV-1 infection leads to upper respiratory disease as well as ocular disease. In addition to nasal and ocular discharge, these kittens may act sick with fever, generalized malaise, decreased appetite, sneezing and coughing . Purulent nasal and ocular discharge can be present with viral infection alone, however, secondary bacterial infection is common. Most commonly, primary infection is self-limiting meaning the kittens immune system is able to clear the disease within 10-14 days. However, the course of the disease can be extremely variable. In adult cats or cats with recurrent infection, clinical signs are typically less severe and only involve the eyes.
Conjunctivitis is the most common disease caused by FHV-1 and is the most common feline ophthalmic disease. Most cats with conjunctivitis are blepharospastic with ocular discharge, conjunctival hyperemia and chemosis . Clinical signs can range from mild to severe and ocular discharge can range from serous/epiphora to mucoid to purulent. Cats with ulcerative conjunctivitis tend to be more painful. In young kittens, ulcerated conjunctiva can heal to itself or to corneal ulcers, forming symblepharon which can lead to severe permanent visual deficits. Chronic conjunctivitis can also lead to scarring of the palpebral conjunctiva and entropion.
What Is Herpes Virus In Cats
Feline Herpesvirus 1, or FHV-1, is the most common upper respiratory virus in cats worldwide. It causes a condition called Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, or is sometimes called feline influenza. The virus is extremely common in shelters and catteries. Some studies have indicated positive blood titers for herpes virus as high as over 90 percent in feral and shelter cat populations.
Most kittens and cats exposed to herpes virus experience symptoms within two to four days. Coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and conjunctivitis are the most common symptoms. Some animals may experience a high fever and decreased appetite. The condition generally runs its course in four to seven days. Some kittens may become extremely ill with secondary pneumonia or develop severe, sometimes permanent, scarring of the cornea of the eye.
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What Is Feline Herpes Viral Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis is the medical term used to describe inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eye. These tissues include the lining of the eyelids and the third eyelid, as well as the tissues covering the front part of the eye or globe. Conjunctivitis may be a primary condition or may be secondary to an underlying systemic or ocular disease .
Feline herpesvirus conjunctivitis a form of primary conjunctivitis caused by the highly infectious feline herpesvirus . Herpesvirus infection is the most common cause of conjunctivitis in cats. In most cases, herpesvirus conjunctivitis is self-limiting and will resolve within two weeks. Many cats that are infected with FHV-1 do not show any signs of clinical illness . Although it is estimated that less than 45% of adult cats with latent herpesvirus infection will develop recurrent ocular disease such as conjunctivitis, approximately 80% of infected cats will become permanent carriers and can infect other cats throughout their life.
Promote Cat Eye Health With Vetericyns Preventative Products
It can happen to even the most responsible pet parents: Youre lounging on the couch, watching your furry friend play with their favorite toy, when all of a sudden you realize, My cats eye is watering!
Luckily, most causes of cats eyes watering are common and treatable. A few days after a trip to the vet, your cat will be back to normal. But, prevention is the best medicine, and treating your cat with Vetericyns slate of antimicrobial products can protect their eyes from future irritation.
At Vetericyn, we want to help keep your pets comfortable, healthy, and happy. Thats why our products wont sting or burn, and are safe to ingest . Check out our products in-store and online to protect your cats health and wellness and keep those eyes tear-free.
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Treatments For Your Cats Watering Eyes
One of the most common treatments for cats with watering eyes is prescription eye drops. After assessing the cause of your cats symptoms, your vet will prescribe eye drops that will both soothe your cats discomfort and treat the root cause of their watering eyes.
If your vet determines that your cats eyes are watering due to bacteria-induced conjunctivitis, theyll also prescribe an antibiotic to eradicate the bacteria. In the case of the Feline Herpes Virus, your vet is unlikely to prescribe an antibiotic, since they cant eradicate viruses.
Regardless of whether your cats watering eyes are due to a bacterial or viral infection, you can supplement your cats eye recovery with Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Eye Wash. Our non-stinging formula gently cleans your cats eyes, restores natural moisture, and helps prevent future irritations.
For cats with congenital allergies, your vet will likely prescribe eye drops and recommend making changes to your cats environment. However, if your cats allergic reaction also caused them to excessively scratch at their skin, you can treat their wounds, rashes, and irritated skin with Vetericyn Plus Feline Antimicrobial Hydrogel. Our hydrogel will clean out any bacteria that infiltrated your cats vulnerable skin and provide soothing relief. This temporarily answers the question, How can I treat my cats eye infection at home? But only if you cant go to the vet yet.
When To See A Vet
The only way to confirm the cause of your cats watery eyeswhether its conjunctivitis or a congenital allergyis to schedule a visit to your vet. But, are watering eyes an emergency?
If watering eyes are the only symptom youve observed in your cat so far, its best to wait 24 hours to see if the problem resolves itself. If your cats watery eyes persist, look for other symptoms, such as:
- If your cat is squinting or blinking more frequently than usual, and if the discharge coming out of their eyes is thick, opaque, or discolored, theyre likely suffering from conjunctivitis.
- If your cats eyes are watering and theyre also scratching themselves or rubbing up against objects to itch themselves, they could be experiencing an allergic reaction.
If you notice any of the symptoms above, in addition to your cats eyes watering schedule an appointment with your vet. Before your appointment, document all symptoms to the best of your ability. Consider taking photos or videos of your cats behavior to show your vet. Theyll need as much information as possible to confirm your cats diagnosis and recommend the most effective course of treatment.
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What Is The Feline Herpes Virus
FHV is an upper respiratory virus of cats. It is very common among cats, especially in environments with multiple cats. The virus most commonly infect kittens, where it replicates in the upper respiratory tract and the conjunctiva of the eyes. Nasal and ocular discharge and sneezing are the most common signs noted. Vaccinated cats may still develop the disease, although the illness is usually less severe. In very young cats adhesions of the conjunctiva to other areas of the eye may occur.
Complications Of Cat Eye Herpes
Repeated outbreaks of ocular herpes can cause scarring of the cornea and degeneration of the cornea that can lead to vision loss. Although more than 90 percent of cats are infected with FHV-1, most remain carriers. Cats with weakened immune systems, kittens and older pets are likely to have outbreaks of the infection. Kittens may also succumb to this infection if its left untreated. The virus is not contagious to humans.
Supplements added to your pets diet such as L-lysine, an amino acid, have been proven to limit the life cycle of the herpes virus and limit outbreaks of the infection. A stress free environment can also help prevent outbreaks.
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What Is The Prognosis For A Cat Diagnosed With Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
There is no cure for herpesvirus infections. The therapeutic goal is to reduce the frequency and severity of recurrences. Most cats respond well to medical management of the condition and lead normal lives. Minimizing the chance of infection, ensuring excellent nutrition by feeding a veterinary-recommended diet, reducing stressful situations, and following an appropriate vaccination schedule are your cats best defense against this disease.
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What Are The Most Common Treatments For Eye Infections In Cats
Your vet will determine the best treatment for your cat’s eye infection based upon 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.
Terramycin® Ophthalmic Ointment – Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride
- Terramycin eye ointment is a broad spectrum treatment for eye infections in cats suffering from a range of eye conditions from conjunctivitis, keratitis, and pink eye, to corneal ulcers, blepharitis and bacterial inflammatory conditions that may occur secondary to other infectious diseases.
Vetropolycin® Veterinary Ophthalimic 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
Topical Corticosteroid Ointment or Drops
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Prevention Of Feline Ocular Herpes
Vaccinating your kitten for feline herpes is your first line of defense. With the feline herpes virus being so common, its imperative to vaccinate the kitten on schedule. The vaccination is not 100% effective in preventing infection, but in addition to the protection from initial infection, vaccinated cats are less likely to develop a major disease. Boosters for this vaccine may be needed later on during the cats lifetime. Consult with your vet regarding the best vaccination schedule for your cat, as this may depend on the cats overall health and living conditions.Many owners of herpes kitties still choose to supplement their cats diet with the amino acid L-lysine. Unfortunately, recent studies show that this isnt effective against the feline herpes virus.
Even if you choose to use l-lysine, please remember that no supplementation can replace topical anti-viral medication in the case of active ocular herpes infection. Forgoing proper medical treatment for this condition could make your cat blind, so please follow the vets orders and take good care of your cats eyes!