How to Get Rid of Pink Eye in Cats? Is Cat Conjunctivitis Contagious?

How to Get Rid of Pink Eye in Cats

Pink may be a gentle and lovely color, but you would not want to see too much pink in your cat’s eyes as this can indicate a common, yet irritating eye infection called cat conjunctivitis or “pink eye.”

Is cat conjunctivitis contagious to us, humans? In this article, you will find out more about this condition – its symptoms, prevention, how to get rid of pink eye in cats, and whether our cats can transmit the infection to us or not.

How to Get Rid of Pink Eye in Cats?

Pink may be a gentle and lovely color, but you would not want to see too much pink in your cat’s eyes as this can indicate a common, yet irritating eye infection called cat conjunctivitis or “pink eye.”

In this article, you will find out more about this condition – its symptoms, prevention, and how to get rid of pink eye in cats.

What is Cat Conjunctivitis?

Cats conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent mucus membrane that covers the eyeball and lines the eyelids. The conjunctiva protects the eyes by lubricating the sclera with tears and mucus.

In healthy cats, the conjunctiva of the eyelids is pale pink and is not readily visible. However, if it’s inflamed, it appears red and swollen. Also, conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes at the same time (unilateral or bilateral, respectively).

Additionally, a cat’s conjunctivitis can either be infectious (caused by viruses or bacteria) or non infectious (caused by an inflammatory response to microorganisms or allergens).

Conjunctivitis is also most common in kittens, though cats can experience pink eye at any time in their lives. This ophthalmic infection can be uncomfortable for your cat, which is why cats with conjunctivitis often blink or squint, or paw at the affected eye/s.

Signs of Conjunctivitis in Cats

Pink eye is one of the aforementioned symptoms of conjunctivitis. If eyelids are heavily damaged, they take an intense pinkish or red tint.

Some of the symptoms that you can observe can also indicate allergies including an asthma reaction to an allergic eye. You may also notice the following:

  • Your cat always keeps his eye/s closed or half-closed
  • Presence of yellowish or greenish eye discharge
  • Excessive eye watering
  • Crusted eye/s
  • Rubbing or scratching the affected eye/s
  • Swollen and visible third eyelid or nictitating membrane
How to Get Rid of Pink Eye in Cats? Is Cat Conjunctivitis Contagious? 1

What Are the Causes of Conjunctivitis in Cats?

As mentioned earlier, cat conjunctivitis can either be infectious or non-infectious. Hence, identifying the cause can greatly help to classify your cat’s condition whether it can infect other felines in your household or not.

Conjunctivitis is primarily caused by harmful bacteria viruses or fungi (infectious). Sometimes the trauma to the eyes can be caused such as when a cat scratch comes from another animal provoking the infection.

There can be also other causes like allergies or irritations due to environmental (non-infectious) causes but these are less common.

Infectious conjunctivitis is most threatening among kittens. Infectious agents that trigger pink eyes include feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, Streptococci, Chlamydophila felis, and Mycoplasm. A variety of viruses and bacteria cause damage to the optic nerve – including your cat's eyes.

If you have a Persian or Himalayan, or a similar longhaired cat breed, they may be born with entropion – a common eye condition.

Recurrent non-infectious conjunctivitis in certain kittens is a sign of chronically compromised immunology. You may want to send your pet for testing of the feline immune system including HIV infection or feline leukemia.

Again, below are the three common causes of conjunctivitis in cats:

Feline Chlamydia

Infected cats can show signs of eye inflammation due to Chlamydophila. Feline chlamydia does not tend to have respiratory problems but they can develop mild respiratory symptoms. These bacterial pathogens are the most common culprits for feline conjunctivitis.

However, there exist other things such as an autoimmune reaction or tiny foreign bodies. The transmission of feline chlamydia is facilitated by contact between animals and spreads quickly between cats in one home or living under the same roof.

Feline Herpes Virus

Shelters are typically overflowing with kittens showing eye diseases combined with acute respiratory tract damage (rhinotracheitis).

In most cases, conjunctivitis is a type of infectious viral infections caused by feline herpesvirus type 1. And the initial manifestation of the symptoms can last anywhere between 10 to 14 days.

Moreover, it is estimated that eighty-five percent of cats have dormant forms of the virus so it never leaves their system but will potentially re-emerge at any time.

Of course, there’s the possibility that it will never reappear. On the other hand, forty-five percent may have transmitted the disease even if they don’t exhibit the symptoms or they can develop medical signs such as recursive conjunctivitis.

Environmental Irritants

Think of any irritant that comes into mind, and that’s most likely one of the reasons why your cat is teary-eyed or showing that unnatural eye redness.

Common environmental irritants that can cause conjunctivitis include dust, smoke, poor air quality, air fresheners, smoke, dirt, and even some pet shampoos that get into your cat’s eye.

How is Feline Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?

As always, it’s best to seek veterinary guidance to get a conclusive diagnosis and determine other conditions that come along with your kitty’s conjunctivitis. Your vet will perform a full physical examination to arrive at a definitive diagnosis, and rule out other possible causes of your cat’s symptoms.

Most of the time, respiratory issues and other cat eye infections also come with conjunctivitis. Your vet may also use an ophthalmoscope to get a better view of your cat’s eyes, and various tests may also be done to ensure there are no other health issues associated with conjunctivitis.

If your cat is feeling agitated, the vet can administer eye drops for immediate treatment. Special eye stains or dyes, as well as tearing tests are commonly used. Your cat's medical history will also help in diagnosing the symptoms as some cases of cat conjunctivitis may be persistent on an ongoing basis.

How to Get Rid of Pink Eye in Cats? Is Cat Conjunctivitis Contagious? 2

How to Prevent Conjunctivitis in Cats?

If you know your cat is sick of herpes or is vomiting it may be worthwhile to include an L-sine supplement every day in his diet. It is an important amino acid that slows the progression of infections caused by a virus and can prevent its recurrence.

It also helps to put a cone on your cat's head to speed up the effectiveness of the treatment. The cone will discourage your cat from rubbing his eyes with his paws, which could create bacterial infiltration into his eyes.

Moreover, ensuring that your cat’s vaccinations (especially for feline herpesvirus) are up-to-date is also essential to help reduce the occurrence of infectious conjunctivitis.

According to the PDSA, feline flu is one of the common causes of conjunctivitis in cats, so, you must not miss your cat’s flu vaccination schedule.

Another way to prevent eye infections in cats is to always keep an eye on your cat, especially if he is very enthusiastic during playtime or exercise. You should also keep sharp objects away, and make sure to trim your cat’s nails regularly.

Stress also contributes to recurring episodes of viral conjunctivitis. Usually, the immune system is the first one to respond when a cat is stressed. Weak defenses make fighting the herpes virus harder.

If you have a baby kitten in your household, you should regularly clean his eyelashes with a warm cloth to catch dust particles. Of course, you should keep your infected cats away from other cats to prevent the spread of infectious conjunctivitis in your household.

As your cat’s primary caregiver, you should also wash your hands thoroughly after handling your infected cat, before touching your cat’s medications, and before caressing your other cats.

Preventing non-infectious conjunctivitis may also be more straightforward – simply remove the triggers to your cat’s symptoms. And one of the most effective ways is to always keep your environment clean.  

How to Treat Conjunctivitis in Cats?

Depending on how serious your cat’s conjunctivitis is, you may need to apply cat eye drops for a few days or even up to a couple of weeks.

The eye drops to be used can also vary – your vet may prescribe antibiotic drops to treat bacterial conjunctivitis or a soothing eye drop for non-infectious conjunctivitis. Hence, your vet’s guidance is essential for the proper treatment of your cat’s eye infection.

Aside from the treatment of conjunctivitis, your vet may also prescribe separate medications for your cat’s underlying health issue that is causing or that is associated with his eye infection.

You may expect him to prescribe anti-inflammatories, immune-boosting supplements, steroids, and other medications depending on your cat’s unique condition.

Gently wiping your cat’s eyes with a warm clean cloth can also help relieve his discomfort and at the same time clean the affected eyes.

As cat parents, you are pretty much aware that giving medications to your feline buddy can be challenging. And most of the time, you may also need someone to assist you in doing this simple, yet essential activity.

Some cats are quieter than others and in certain ways, your friend can easily be held up on your lap when you have opened his eye while applying medication.

Don't forget to reward your cat with hugs and treats afterward. If you need help you can also check out International Cat Care useful videos which show how to inspect your pet's eye and apply medications.

Natural Home Remedies to Treat Conjunctivitis in Cats

Cat skin can be contaminated by eye ulcers, systemic bacteria, and breed-specific infections like the cherry eye. Sometimes cat allergies can also be present or cats can suffer from injuries caused by scratching on their eyes.

Eye infections may be related to pink eye or cause redness, inflammation, sneezing, and pus around the eyes in the case of eye bruising.

Home remedies can range from home eyewash and tea bags to natural methods to relieve symptoms. If your cat has eye problems that go undiagnosed consult your veterinarian.

Here are some tips that you can do at home to manage and care for your cat's conjunctivitis. These are not magic recipes for the treatment of acute conjunctivitis but are useful at the first signs of an eye infection, such as swollen or pink eye, and the presence of discharge.

Cleaning and Irrigation

Do you think that your Persian Cat has conjunctivitis because his eyes appear crusty? If so, you can help soothe this using a homemade saline solution. The recipe requires mixing 14 teaspoons of sea salt into a cup of lukewarm water.

Afterward, soak gauze in this solution and place a little amount in each cat's eye to rinse them off. You can scrub the edges of the eyelids and remove crusts by moistening them. It shall prevent obstruction and blockage of tears ducts. Use an ophthalmic irrigation solution for veterinary usage.

Compresses

Warm or cold compresses can be placed on your cat’s eyes to dislodge blood clots and help with the flow of liquid eye secretions. You can do each compress for a few minutes at a time, a few times a day. While it can appear like a simple gesture, applying warm/cold compresses certainly improve your cat’s comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What kind of eye drops are safe for cats?

There are different types of treatments that can be prescribed. Not all eye drops can be used dependent on the underlying eye problem requiring treatment. Veterinary help is also essential; so, consider asking your vet if your pet needs medical attention.

How much does it cost to treat conjunctivitis in cats?

The value of treating conjunctivitis in a cat depends very starkly on their cause. Your cat will have to go to the vet, so there will be an expense for consultation and medication.

Is it normal for cats to have eye discharge?

If you see green or yellow discharge from your cat’s eyes, it's a good idea to visit the vet. Cats produce white tears but other discharges of the eyes are not normal. When this happens, chances are your cat may be experiencing underlying infections.

And knowing the silent and secretive nature of cats when they are ill, it can be hard to tell when something is wrong unless you have them checked by your vet. So, you may want to take the presence of the green or yellow eye discharges as visible indications that there is something wrong that needs immediate medical attention.

Is cat conjunctivitis contagious?

The chance of transmitting cat conjunctivitis to humans is small. You should still take care of a little basic hygiene like cleaning your hands while your cat is in recovery.

Can I use artificial tears on my cat?

If you suspect a problem, you should never apply anything which wasn't prescribed for cats or before a doctor's diagnosis. It's possible that these eye drops, or artificial tears are not suitable for your cat. You need to speak with a vet first to determine what is off and to give your pet the best treatment that he needs.

How to Get Rid of Pink Eye in Cats? Is Cat Conjunctivitis Contagious? 3
  • Updated December 8, 2021
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.