Do cats get pink eyes?

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye is a common eye infection of humans. This is a painful eye concern. The swelling and the redness bring immense discomfort. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious thus humans would hide the affliction by using large dark glasses as it is not uncommon for people to stay away from anyone with this eye infection. Pink eyes infect not only humans but animals as well. Cats can get pink eyes too. If you’ve had this eye infection you would know how the pet would feel.

Conjunctivitis is not a rare disease in cats. This disease often affects the cat chronically. It is not uncommon for a cat to get pink eyes several times throughout its lifetime. This eye infection is not life threatening but it can cause the pet immense discomfort. Left untreated, pink eyes can cause a cat to lose its vision. The well being of the pet is the responsibility of the owner. We humans may not deem it necessary to consult a health care practitioner if we have conjunctivitis. Moist warm compresses pressed on the affected eye and over the counter eye drops would relieve the symptoms and bring relief. However, this is not so with animals. It is not possible to tell cats not to dig at their eyes. To relieve the discomfort, cats would rub the eyes against objects. This would naturally worsen the condition. A cat owner has to recognize the symptoms of pink eyes so treatment can be given to the pet. Early detection and treatment will not only save the pet from immense discomfort but also prevent the condition from worsening.

The conjunctiva is the thin mucus membrane that covers the outer layer of the eye. In cats, conjunctiva covers the inner eyelid. The conjunctiva is normally pale pink in color and not really visible. Pink eye name was given to this infection because when the conjunctiva gets swollen, it bulges out from the eyelids and turns red in color. The eyes would have a pus-like discharge that can be clear, green, yellow or dark red in color. Because of the pain and the gritty feel of the eyes, an infected cat would rub the eyes constantly. The pet also tend to squint so that the eyes would appear half closed. Because of the swollen conjunctiva, the third eyelid will be noticed to protrude a bit. It is common for cats to have beautifully colored irises but conjunctiva usually dulls the color of this eye part. Cats with pink eyes appear to have upper respiratory tract infection too because affected cat would sneeze a lot.

Cause of conjunctivitis can be generalized into two categories – infectious and non-infectious. Non-infectious causes include trauma to the eyes sustained from injuries like when the cat fight with another cat or with other animals. Foreign objects that get into the eye, eyelashes and hair of long haired breeds that rubs against the eyeball can lead to the development of conjunctivitis. Infectious causes of pink eyes include feline Chlamydia, feline mycoplasma and feline herpes virus. Chronic conjunctivitis is typically caused by infectious agents because the causative agent cannot be totally controlled.

Pink eyes treatments would depend on the cause. Foreign object in the eyes that causes the irritation simply needs to be flushed out with saline solution. Antibiotics are applied for bacterial infection and antiviral eye medications are administered if conjunctivitis is caused by a virus. Natural substances that have anti-inflammatory properties would soothe the pain and irritation and reduce the swelling as well. A vet’s expertise would be necessary not only to alleviate the discomfort of the pet but also to prevent the condition from worsening. Pink eyes may not be life threatening however, cats can lose their eyesight if the infection is left untreated.

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