Eye infections in cats can be caused by a host of issues from bacterial or viral infections to injuries or other more serious underlying conditions. The cause of your cat's eye infection will dictate the treatment recommended by your veterinarian. Here our Charlotte vets share some of the most common treatments for eye infections in cats.
What causes 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 that May Cause Eye Infections
- Bacterial infection of the eye
- Viral infection of the eye
- Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR)
- Feline herpesvirus
- Feline calicivirus
Common Non-Infectious Conditions that May Cause Eye Infections:
- Hereditary conditions
- Foreign body in eye (ie: grass seed or sand)
- Autoimmune disease
What are the symptoms of an eye infection?
If your cat is suffering from an eye infection you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- 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 is displaying any of the above symptoms book an appointment with your primary care veterinarian as soon as possible in order to prevent the infection from spreading to the other eye, becoming more severe, or being spread to other pets in your household or neighborhood.
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
- Azithromycin may be prescribed for the treatment of Chlamydophila or Mycoplasma conjunctivitis as well as underlying bacterial infections such as respiratory tract infections, and Bartonella which may affect your cat's eyes.
Topical Corticosteroid Ointment or Drops
- Corticosteroids are often prescribed to help stop eye inflammation. In cat's these drops and ointments are most commonly used to treat conjunctivitis, episcleritis, scleritis, pannus, and eosinophilic keratitis.
- L-lysine is an amino acid supplement used to help treat feline herpes virus infection in cats. Studies are ongoing as to the affectiveness of this product however there is anecdotal evidence that lysine may help to suppress the symptoms of 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. Studies are ongoing regarding the effectiveness of this treatment but in some cases your vet may feel this treatment is worth trying to help your cat fight infections.
Can I use Neosporin on my cat?
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 a risk.
Neosporin is a topical antibiotic ointment that works very well on humans but it 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 quickly will treatment work?
Once treatment begins, eye infections in cats typically clear up very quickly. That said, it is essential to continue treatment as per your vet's instructions even after your cat's symptoms have cleared up! Do not stop treatment until the end of the prescription period. Stopping your cat's antibiotic medication early could lead to a resurgence of the infection and make it harder to eliminate.
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.