Taking Care of Your Cat’s Eyes

Checking your cat’s eyes regularly will keep your cat looking their best and help you to identify eye problems early.

Cats accumulate small amounts of secretions and debris at the inside corners of their eyes, just like ‘sleep’ in humans. These secretions should be routinely cleaned away to keep your cat looking their best and to prevent irritation.

Routine eye care

Normal secretions and debris can be wiped away gently with a damp cotton ball, being careful not to touch or rub the eyeball. Some flat-faced breeds, such as Persians, tend to have more discharges and staining of the hair at the eyelid corners. Products are available to help reduce this discolouration, especially in light-coloured cats, and any long facial hair can be carefully trimmed to prevent irritation of the eyes.

Signs of eye problems

If the eyes appear red, painful, or are weeping excessively you should contact your vet – this could be due to conjunctivitis, a serious ulcer, or abnormalities of the tear duct. If a foreign body such as a grass seed is present your cat may blink excessively and the lids will swell. Symptoms like these or any inflamed eye should be treated as an emergency to avoid serious complications and, at worst, loss of the eye.

Treating eye problems

Once an eye problem has been diagnosed and treated by your vet, you may be required to continue eye care at home. If your cat has an eye infection, you may need to clean the discharges from the eyes 2 or 3 times a day with warm water to keep the eyelids open and use the appropriate eye drops or ointment.

Only use eye drops or ointment prescribed by your vet for your cat. To place these in the eye, hold the cat’s head to one side and open the eyelids with one hand. The other hand instils the medication, while resting lightly on the cat’s head to keep the hand steady and the dose administered gently and accurately.

By Dr Julia Adams BVSc

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