Sunday, April 21, 2024

My Cat’s Eye Is Swollen Shut

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Why Does My Cat Sleep With One Eye Open


As naturally cautious animals, cats feel vulnerable while they sleep. Your cat may appear to sleep with one eye open. This is not the case. Cats have a transparent third eyelid, known as the nictating membrane. This is located in the corner of your cats eye, resting below the conjunctiva.

This eyelid closes while your cat is sleeping. This helps your cat doze while remaining alert to potential danger. If your cat catches sight of movement, it can quickly react.

Your cat may not be sleeping. Experimental Neurology explains that the eyelids of a sleeping cat will twitch, implying that it has entered REM sleep.

Causes Of Swollen Cat Eyes

There are several possibilities that may lead to a swollen eye in a cat::

  • Conjunctivitis: The conjunctiva of the eye is a mucous membrane that surrounds the eyeball, and sometimes becomes infected. When this happens, we call it conjunctivitis, or pink eye. This is a very painful disease for a kitty that can be caused by a number of different things. With conjunctivitis, the swollen eye is often accompanied by discharge from the eye that is either clear, or purulent.
  • Scratches: Cats may accidentally have their eyes scratched during play or a fight with other cats. When this happens, the eye itself is damaged and may have become infected, leading either to pink eye or an ulcer.
  • Foreign Item: A cat with a swollen eye may have also been poked, possibly while crawling around in brush. If an item were to become lodged in the eye, it is possible for an infection to form.

Signs Of Eye Problems In Cats

Watery & Glassy Looking Eyes

Allergies are common in cats and can certainly lead your kitty’s eyes to become irritated and watery. Common allergies that could affect your cat’s eyes include pollen, mold and mildew dust, household cleaning products, perfumes, and some medications. Keeping your cat away from the allergen could help to clear up the issue. However, if you are unable to pinpoint what is causing your cat’s watery eyes a trip to the vet is in order. Your vet will be able to rule out more serious causes for your cat’s watery eyes and be able to recommend ways to help make your cat’s eyes feel more comfortable.

Blinking, Squinting & Pawing at Eyes

If your cat has watery eyes and is blinking excessively, squinting or pawing at their eyes it’s time for a trip to the vet. Your cat could have a foreign body trapped and irritating the eye, or a blocked nasolacrimal duct . Although nasolacrimal obstructions aren’t as common in cats as they are in dogs they can result in tears overflowing and running out of the eye.

Red & Inflamed Eyes

Yellow or Green Sticky Discharge

Pain & Swelling

Sneezing & Runny Nose

Cold symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose mean that your cat is likely suffering from a cat cold or feline upper respiratory infection. Many cat colds will clear up within a week without the need for veterinary care, however, if your cat’s symptoms become worse or fail to improve within a couple of days make an appointment to see your vet.

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Correct Diagnosis Is Key

The long list of potential conditions that aggravate, inflame, and damage a cat’s eyes means that getting the correct diagnosis from a vet is crucial. And because the viruses and bacteria that cause cat eye infections can be highly contagious to other cats as well, figuring out what’s wrong is the first step to making it rightthe earlier, the better. Home remedies without a medical diagnosis might sound tempting, especially when considering cost, convenience, or the stress a trip to the vet can cause. But proper treatment is crucial for making sure your cat has the best chance at a full recovery.

“Certain diseases of the eye can cause loss of vision or irreparable damage to the eye, requiring surgical removal to alleviate painboth of which are significant welfare concerns for the cat,” Aher says. “Eye diseases may also reflect a systemic illness and can be an indication that more diagnostics are needed.”

Ward agrees: “If a cat is squinting, has red eyes or is pawing at the eyes, don’t put anything in the eye before the veterinarian determines the cause. Putting the wrong medication in an eye wound can slow down healing.”

An evaluation of your cat’s eyes to check for signs of illness, infection, or injury is the first step. Blood tests and tests of the cat’s eye discharge or infected skin cells may also be required to determine what’s wrong.

What Are The Clinical Signs Of Conjunctivitis

My cats left eye is swollen shut more than any photos I ...

If you see excessive tearing or watering from one or both eyes, abnormal discharge , or reddened conjunctival membranes, your cat may have conjunctivitis. Your cat may also squint or keep her eyes closed because of either discomfort or photophobia . In severe cases, the conjunctival tissue or the third eyelid may be so swollen that it may partially or fully cover the eye. If your cat exhibits any of these signs, she should be examined by your veterinarian immediately.

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What Is The Prognosis For Recovery

The prognosis depends entirely on the cause of the blepharitis. If a congenital abnormality is responsible for the problem and it is surgically corrected, the prognosis is excellent. If the blepharitis is caused by a squamous cell carcinoma, it may not be possible to completely remove the tumor. However, cancer treatment is a rapidly evolving field and combination treatments using other forms of cancer therapy may prove to be useful for managing this problem. Cats infected with the feline herpes virus will remain carriers for the rest of their life and may have relapses on occasion, especially if they are stressed. For many cats with blepharitis, the underlying condition can be controlled with medical management but it often cannot be cured.

Contributors: Tammy Hunter, DVM Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc, CVH

Other Eye Discharge Causes

Other potential causes worth mentioning include feline infectious peritonitis , allergies, a foreign object lodged in the eye, or third eyelid protrusions.

If you notice your cat has any issues with their eyes including discharge or discolouration, be sure to visit your vet and have them checked out. If specialized eye care through a veterinary eye specialist or allergy care through a veterinary dermatologist is needed, your vet will be able to assess further steps. Your cat will thank you with their demanding pet me look.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to VetDERM Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Dr. Andrea Lam, DVM, DACVD is a Board certified veterinary dermatologist. Dr. Lam loves learning and educating, and has trained several dermatology interns as well as dermatology residents. Her research interests include novel management strategies for the treatment of canine atopic dermatitis and applications for stem cell therapy.

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Signs Your Cat May Have An Eye Infection

Discharge, unusual blinking, or rubbing of the eyes may be the sign of a cat eye infection. Understanding the symptoms is key to treating this common condition.

Your cat’s gorgeous eyes are suddenly showing some signs of irritation. They’re looking a little goopyclear, yellow, or green discharge might be pooling in the corners of the eyes and on the eyelids. Perhaps she’s squinting or blinking, or those cute little paws are rubbing one or both eyes more than usual.

You might be wondering if it’s an eye infection. Even worseis it contagious? Before turning to an untested home remedy or raiding your medicine cabinet for a treatment that’s meant for humans, consider the different conditions that can cause eye trouble in cats. You need a solid diagnosis from a professional before tackling your cat’s eye trouble, and here’s why.

What Are Some Causes Of Conjunctivitis

Treating an Eye Infection in a Kitten

The most common causes of conjunctivitis can be roughly divided into two categories: infectious diseases and non-infectious conditions including allergies, hereditary conditions, and tumors. Conjunctivitis may also be a secondary symptom of another eye disease.

Infectious Causes of Conjunctivitis. Infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi are the most common causes of conjunctivitis in cats. In many cases, viruses such as feline viral rhinotracheitis , also known as feline herpesvirus, or feline calicivirus are the initial cause of inflammation. Primary viral infections are often complicated by secondary bacterial infections with a variety of bacteria including Streptococci and Staphylococci. Two other organisms, Chlamydophila felis and Mycoplasma are also capable of initiating primary conjunctivitis.

Non-infectious Causes of Conjunctivitis. Breeds such as Persians, Himalayans, and other longhaired breeds may be born with a turning in of the eyelids called entropion. Entropion causes corneal irritation when the eyelashes constantly rub against the eyeball. Foreign bodies, such as dust or sand, may become trapped inside the eyelids, or exposure to irritant chemicals may also initiate conjunctivitis that leads to secondary infection. Allergies are believed to be a common cause of conjunctivitis, but the specific allergens can sometimes be difficult to identify or avoid. Conjunctivitis is a also common symptom of eye tumors.

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When Its Time To Call The Vet

Cat eye infections can cause discharge, irritation, and pain and are caused by a number of factors. If an eye condition persists for longer than a day and isn’t getting better, it’s time to make an appointment with a veterinarian to find out what’s wrong, so you can get it treated right away.

Ward advises pet owners to be wary of using old eye medications that were previously prescribed to treat a new problem that crops up. “I’ve seen so many cases where the pet owner has leftover eye medication, and when the is squinting and pawing at red eyes, they try it,” Ward says.

But because eye problems in cats can be caused by so many different issuesfrom allergies to corneal scratchesusing that old medicine without an examination by your vet can cause serious problems and even further damage to your cat’s eye.

Home Care: Tips For Keeping Your Cats Eyes Healthy

You can help avoid eye problems in your cat by keeping up with yearly vaccinations, avoiding kitty overcrowding, and checking your cats eyes frequently for redness, cloudiness, a change in color or shape, discharge, or sensitivity to light.

To safely remove your cats eye discharge and make them more comfortable while waiting for their vet appointment, arm yourself with a bag of cotton balls and these simple tips from the ASPCA:

  • Dip a cotton ball in water. Wipe away the eye discharge, always from the corner of the eye outward. Use a fresh cotton ball for each eye.
  • Steer clear of any over-the-counter drops or washes unless your vet has prescribed them.

Because correct treatment can be so critical to the health and well-being of your cat, always talk to a veterinarian to be sure kitty is getting just the right care needed.

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Eye discharge in cats is a symptom rather than a disease itself, and has a variety of causes. Eye discharge may be clear and runny, or it may be green/yellow and thick. If your cat’s symptoms are mild and he/she has a normal appetite and energy level, and does not have any other symptoms of illness, it is okay to monitor him/her for a few days.

Types Of Eye Infections In Cats

I just came home from work and my cat

Feline eye infections are bacterial and can be treated with prescription medication. Signs that your cat has an eye infection include:

  • Rednessin and around the eye
  • Excessivetear production
  • Constantblinking or winking
  • Protrusionof the eyeball

The majority of eye infections will be treated with prescription antibacterial eye drops. Never use human eye drops.

The prognosis for eye drops is good. Most cats make a full recovery in a short space of time. Do not allow the infection to run its course, as this will only aggravate the issue.


Your cats eye will become inflamed, red, and swollen. This will be painful, so your cat will rub and claw at its eye.

According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, conjunctivitis can affect both eyes. The cause could be due to allergies, or another cat may have infected your cat.

Feline conjunctivitis is treated with anti-inflammatory eye drops. Most cats will make a full recovery within 2 days of treatment.


Glaucoma can occur when a cats eye infection is not treated. A cat must drain fluid through its tear ducts. If your cat is unable to do so, pressure builds up. This leaves your cat in pain and unable to open its eye.

Glaucoma must be treated at the first sign of symptoms. If glaucoma is left untreated, it may lose an eye. The signs of this condition include:

  • Visible swelling in the eye
  • Clawing and pawing at the eye
  • Thin, watery discharge
  • Cloudy, discolored iris

Corneal Ulcers


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Infections Of The Upper Respiratory Tract

Feline Herpes Virus can also cause infections of the upper respiratory tract. These, in turn, can result in swollen or irritated eyes. Signs of an upper respiratory tract infection include:5

  • Sneezing
  • Discharge from the nose and eyes
  • Conjunctivitis

Since conjunctivitis is a common symptom of an upper respiratory tract infection, any combination of the above symptoms with any conjunctivitis symptoms should be examined by a vet. Your vet can prescribe eye drops for your cats swollen eyes and antibiotics if they suspect that the upper respiratory tract infection is caused by bacteria.

How Is Conjunctivitis Treated

The general approach to non-specific conjunctivitis is to use ophthalmic preparations containing a combination of broad- spectrum antibiotics to control the secondary bacterial infection and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the inflammation. These preparations come as either drops or ointment for instilling into the eyes. Local treatment may need to be supplemented with injections and pills.

If a specific diagnosis has been reached, one of the following treatment regimens may be used:

1. Herpesvirus conjunctivitis

  • Although these infections are usually mild and self-limiting, infected cats remain carriers of the virus and may have intermittent relapses.
  • No treatment may be required for mild cases.
  • Antiviral medications are used in severe or poorly responsive cases.
  • L-lysine may be used to promote healing and may be used for the entire life as an immune-stimulant for cats that have recurrent problems.
  • Antibiotics are often used if a secondary bacterial infection is present.
  • Interferon-alpha may be used as an immune stimulant.

2. Chlamydophila or Mycoplasma conjunctivitis

  • Tetracycline ophthalmic ointment.

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Is Their Breed Prone To Tearing

Some breeds have short faces and rounded skulls. This causes lots of tears and other eye problems.

Tears that flow onto their faces stain their hair and irritate or inflame their skin.

There are a number of products on the market to treat these stains, but some have ingredients that arent FDA approved. Ask your vet whats safe to use.

Dangers Of An Untreated Swollen Eye

7 Common Eye Problems in Cats

A swollen eye in a cat that goes untreated may easily develop into a more serious problem. When there is swelling, there is a good chance that the eye is already infected, and medical attention should be sought. Failure to do so may result in permanent vision problems or even blindness in the afflicted eye. Some cats have even gotten quite ill after being exposed to a bacteria or virus while having an open wound.

For a cat, a swollen eye can be a painful and unpleasant ordeal. Even after a vet visit and a possible prescription, other treatment may sometimes be an option to help reduce your cat’s suffering and aid in the healing process.

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Is It Normal For Cats To Discharge From Their Eyes

While an occasional eye discharge is usually not something to worry about, chronic discharge certainly is. Again, cat eye discharge in itself is not a disease, but rather a sign of a condition that may need professional treatment. Several of the ailments that we are about to discuss can result in blindness.

Is It Normal For A Cat To Have Mucus In Its Eyes

A small amount of crust from time to time is usually normal. However, if you notice large amounts of crusty matter, then you can assume there was a large amount of discharge or mucus, which typically indicates the presence of eye problems. Watery eyes are often accompanied by physical signs such as redness and swelling.

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Conjunctivitis: Yes Cats Can Get Pink Eye Too

Conjunctivitis is a common reason for your cats eyes to be red and inflamed. Conjunctivitis, or Conjunctiva, is the inflammation of the thin mucous membrane on the outer surface of the eye. When it gets irritated by foreign bodies, infected, or injured, it can get red and uncomfortable. Some other causes can be Feline Herpesvirus or Calicivirus. Whether the Conjunctivitis is bacterial, viral, or fungi based, it can be cleared up quickly with a vet visit, diagnosis, and treatment.


  • Eye discharge that is different or discolored
  • Third eyelid covering part of the eye

Diagnosis & Treatment:

  • Aculture or specimen to determine the origin of the infection
  • Blood or urine samples to confirm infection
  • Eye drops or topical ointments applied to the eyes to reduce inflammation and heal the eyes
  • Oral antibiotics or anti-viral medications may be prescribedif an infection or fungus is present

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