How to Detect an Eye Infection in Your Cat
28 July, 2015
Infection in Your Cat

Cats don’t have as many eye problems as dogs because many of our kitties live their lives indoors, dramatically reducing the risk of an eye injury or infection.  Outdoor cats, however, have about the same level of risk as their dogs who are always outside.  But if your kitty’s immune system is weakened for any reason, or if your cat endures a stressful situation, a viral outbreak can result even in your cat’s eyes.  And, as our cats don’t ‘tell us’ anything, it’s our job as pet parents to look for the signs of an eye infection in our cats.

The most common eye infection in cats is conjunctivitis

There are many different types of eye infections, but the most common one is conjunctivitis. As always, the first thing to do if your cat has an eye infection is to take her or him to your veterinarian to find out what kind of infection it is.  If your cat is blinking a lot or you see any type of discharge or white mucus around the eye area, there is something wrong.    

Infection in Your Cat

Cats can also develop primary bacterial eye infections caused, for example, by chlamydia, as well as fungal infections such as Cryptococcus fungus. There are a variety of infections that a cat can get in its eyes.  For the most part, vets generally recommend eye drops for your cat and they will typically cure the infection.  However, when an eye infection that isn’t resolving on its own, it’s important to identify the cause of so you know how best to treat it.  Infections caused by a virus, a bacteria or a fungus are all handled differently, usually with antibiotics.

There are also some treatments that you can try at home to help your cat through the infection.  Again, your veterinarian is the best judge of how to treat the infection.  You should consider your cat’s eye infection urgent if there are obvious changes to the eye that grow progressively worse to the point where you’re concerned or if there is an abrupt change in your cat’s behavior.

Symptoms and Prevention of eye infections in cats

Symptoms of an eye infection in your kitty can be a tricky to detect, because cats are very good at hiding their discomfort, no matter the cause.  You may notice your cat is slowly blinking her eyes or holding them closed to try to self-lubricate the corneas. You might notice some redness, which can be a sign of a condition known as conjunctivitis.

Sometimes an eye infection will cause a smelly discharge; crusting around the eyes is also common. You might also notice your cat pawing at her eyes.

The best way to keep your kitty safe from viral, bacterial and fungal infections is to keep her indoors. There is some exposure indoors, but it’s minimal. You can reduce your pet’s risk of acquiring an eye infection by at least 75 percent by simply keeping her inside.

With an eye infection that isn’t resolving on its own, it’s important to identify the cause of so you know how best to treat it. Infections caused by a virus, a bacteria or a fungus are all handled differently.

A healthy diet can also help prevent your cat from getting an eye infection

If you feed your cat a well-balanced, high quality diet, it will help his or her immune system. Diets rich in vitamins A and C are excellent for eye health in cats. Providing vitamin A or C supplements (ask your vet for recommendations) or feeding a diet with plenty of vegetables such as spinach, kale and carrots guarantees your cat’s daily recommended intake is met. 

Below are some other eye issues in cats that might look like an infection:


Corneal ulcers; corneal wounds caused by a puncture or foreign body in the eye

Dry eye, which is also characterized by a thick mucous coating over the eye

Cherry eye (prolapse of the third eyelid gland)

Entropion (the turning in of the lid margins)

Uveitis, an autoimmune disease

Natural remedies that can help your cats’ infection

As mentioned above, there are some natural remedies that are available in some pet stores or natural foods stores. These medications can help your cat kick an eye infection naturally. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations and let your vet monitor your cat’s progress when taking the medication determine the cause of the problem and the right course of treatment.

If you keep your cat indoors, provide your kitty with a healthy diet and watch for anything different in your cat’s eyes or behavior, you can keep minimize the risk and length of eye infections in your cat.  As always, anything unusual should be reported to your veterinarian.

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