As a pet parent you may need to know about eye diseases in cats at some time or another. No matter how old they are, cats can develop eye problems. In this article you’ll discover everything you need to know about eye diseases in cats, including eye care. Your cat’s eyesight is precious just like yours, and knowing how to care for her eyes is vital.
Your cat’s eyes are designed to see in dim light for hunting. They’re much larger in proportion to the face than those of a human. In fact, if our eyes were of the same proportion they’d be the size of grapefruits! Knowing how cats see helps to understand the importance of keeping your kitty’s eyes healthy.
Caring for your cat’s eyes
Your cat has beautiful and alluring eyes. She looks at you adoringly, and that slow blink means she loves you. Your cat’s eyes should be clear and bright with pupils of equal size. Sometimes though, just like us, problems can occur. Cats suffer from very similar eye conditions to humans.
Giving your cat a healthy diet is one of the best ways to ensure healthy eyes. Always buy quality cat food even if it costs a bit more. You wouldn’t feed your family low grade food, so neither should you feed it to your cat. Taurine is essential for eye health and found in all cat foods.
Cats are unable to synthesise enough taurine to meet their metabolic requirements, so if you make your own cat food you need to add taurine. You can easily buy this as a powder, but make sure you get taurine supplement for cats!
Some breeds of cat such as persians are prone to watery eyes. If you’re the owner of a persian you’ll know what I mean! I had a beautiful persian mix and she was always getting little black bits in the corner of her eyes. I used small pieces of cotton wool soaked in tepid water to gently wipe them.
It’s always a good idea to check your cat’s eyes when you groom her. This should be a regular routine as it helps bond with your cat. Finding any problems in its early stages can prevent more serious issues.
Most eye problems in cats can be successfully treated if caught in time. Never ignore anything as it could lead to serious problems for your cat. Her vision is precious just as yours is. The following eye diseases in cats are fairly common to all, but doesn’t mean your kitty will necessarily suffer from any of them!
Humans aren’t the only species to get conjunctivitis as cats can suffer from it as well. Feline conjunctivitis isn’t as easy to diagnose and treat as it is with people though. Symptoms typically experienced by a human may not mean the same for your cat. Only your vet will be able to correctly diagnose the condition. Never use over the counter medication as you could seriously harm your cat’s eyes.
If you notice any of the following signs you should get your cat checked for feline conjunctivitis.
- Watery eyes
- Squinting constantly
- Yellow or white discharge
- Redness around the eye area.
Sometimes, a blocked tear duct can be a cause. This is very easily treated by your vet. Cat flu could also show similar symptoms. However, your cat will also be sneezing a lot and looking very unwell. Occasionally, feline conjunctivitis can be accompanied by upper respiratory infections. Any of these additional symptoms are a serious cause for concern. If you notice your cat wheezing and having problems breathing it’s an emergency. Call your vet straight away.
What causes feline conjunctivitis?
Bacteria and viruses are the most common causes of feline conjunctivitis. Other causes include allergies, hereditary conditions, or even tumours.
Your cat can suffer allergies the same way you do. Grit or particles of fine dust can irritate the eye. Exposure to toxic chemicals can also have the same effect. As your cat is unable to talk, the vet will need to carry out tests. Foreign bodies in the eye are easily picked up and can be removed by your vet.
Very mild cases of conjunctivitis may not need any treatment. In some cases your vet will test the eye pressure and use dye to look for any injuries. Blood tests may also be taken to try and determine the cause. Depending on findings, other tests such as biopsies may also be carried out.
Most times your cat will be treated for contagious feline conjunctivitis. Antibiotics are usually very effective and clear up symptoms with a few days to a week. These may come in the form of drops or ointment, and your vet will show you how to administer them. It can be a scary thought, but don’t worry, once you know how to give a cat eye drops, it will be a breeze!
Corneal ulcers in cats
Corneal ulcers in cats are caused by several things. Symptoms are the same as feline conjunctivitis, so your vet will need to do an examination. Sometimes cat fights can be very aggressive leading to eye injuries, though most fights are just noise! Corneal ulcers can also be caused by ingrown eyelashes, bacteria, or lack of tears. If ignored they can lead to blindness which is irreversible.
Always get your cat checked out immediately you notice something’s not right. Pawing constantly at the eye, or squinting are obvious signs your cat is in pain or suffering discomfort. Your vet will probably prescribe drops or ointment unless it’s very severe. Deep corneal ulcers may need surgery to repair. Your kitty will then have to wear one of those lampshade collars to stop her rubbing the affected eye!
Does your cat have glaucoma?
Glaucoma in cats is similar to that seen in humans. In exactly the same way, it can lead to blindness if not treated. Some breeds such as siamese and burmese are predisposed towards glaucoma, and you have one of these breeds, you need to be aware of this. However, it’s far less common than it is for humans and dogs.
Glaucoma in cats has the same symptom in which aqueous fluid can’t drain away. This results in a build up of pressure on the optic nerve. If you’re over 40 years old you’ll have experienced an eye pressure test at the opticians. However, your vet won’t use the same method, but instead, a more gentle one that won’t alarm your cat!
Signs to look out for are bulging eyes or a cloudy appearance. Glaucoma is a very painful condition in cats, and your fur baby will be irritable, sleep more, and have problems seeing clearly. Though rare in cats, it can do irreversible damage unless picked up in time.
Your vet will measure the pressure in your cat’s eyes, as well as take x-rays, blood tests, and a possible ultrasound. Just as in humans, if caught early, glaucoma can be managed very well. Eye drops help maintain pressure, though occasionally, surgery may be required as well.
Cataracts in cats-how common is it?
Just like glaucoma, cataracts are far less commonly seen in cats than humans or dogs. Also, unlike us, cataracts in cats aren’t normally age related. They’re far more likely to result from eye injuries, or infections.
If you notice your cat’s eyes have developed a white or greyish film this is a serious sign. She may also be reluctant to jump on the sofa or bed. Going outside will have obvious dangers, so if your kitty has any vision problems, keep her indoors.
Treatment for cataracts in cats is surgery, and modern techniques have a 90% success rate provided it’s caught early enough. Aftercare usually involves eye drops, and recovery a few weeks.
Is feline uveitis a common eye disease in cats?
Feline uveitis is fairly common. Like other eye diseases in cats, it can be successfully treated if caught in its early stages. A few of the symptoms are similar to glaucoma, so your vet will need to do a thorough examination of your kitty to determine the cause. The signs to look out for are exactly the same as previously mentioned.
Often, eye diseases in cats are associated with other illnesses such as diabetes. It’s not uncommon for cats to develop feline uveitis as a result of FIV, or some other bacterial infection. Tumours must be ruled out as well.
Should you insure your cat to help cover the cost of eye problems?
Keeping your cat insured is one of the best ways to cover unexpected treatment costs. Vet bills can be alarmingly high, and taking out pet insurance makes sure your kitty never has to suffer. Treating eye problems in cats can sometimes require long term medication so it makes sense to either keep a savings account for vet bills, or take out insurance.
Preventing eye problems in your cat
In this post we looked at a few common eye diseases in cats as well as how to look after your cat’s eyes. Prevention is better than cure, as the saying goes! While you can’t stop your kitty developing many eye conditions, you can take steps to keep them healthy. We looked at diet and vital nutrients your cat needs for optimal eye health. We also looked at how to wipe your cat’s eyes if they become watery.
You discovered what to look for, and common treatments for many eye problems. Remember, your cat’s vision is important, just as it is for you. In many cases blindness can be prevented with early detection. Your cat depends on you for care, and she can’t talk. (Though that may not be a bad thing lol!)
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Wishing you a purrfect day 🙂