Common Cat Eye Problems

There are lots of different cat eye problems that can occur. Some are more serious than others. On this page, I'll go through the signs to look out for, and will also describe some of the more common cat eye diseases.

glowing cat eyes

Signs Of Cat Eye Problems

Sometimes, one or both of your kitty's eyes may water excessively or be half-shut for a short period of time. This can occur if something gets into his eye and irritates it.

Like humans, if this happens, Kitty's eye will water to get rid of the irritation. If the watering stops after a short time and his eyes go back to normal, there's nothing to worry about.

But if his eyes continue to water to excess and other signs start to appear, you should take him to the vet.

Some cat breeds - e.g. the Persian cat, Himalayan cat - have naturally watery eyes because of their flat faces. The fluid from their eyes may also be darkish colored.

If this is normal for your cat, then there's nothing to worry about. It's only if the watering becomes greater than normal, and / or is accompanied by other signs that you need to investigate further.

You should consult your vet if any of the following signs occur:

  • Excessive watering
  • Red eye(s)
  • Eye discharging pus
  • Swollen or irritated eyelids
  • Caked, crusty discharge around the eye
  • Abnormally blueish, cloudy eye
  • Holding eye partially or fully closed
  • Excessive rubbing of the eye(s)
  • Bulging eye
  • Sunken eye
  • Third eyelid (which looks like skin) over the eye
  • Pupil stays large, even in bright light
  • White pupil

Some signs of cat eye disease show up as abnormal behavior:

  • Abnormal eye movement
  • Cat won't jump, keeps bumping into things
  • Cat or kitten won't run around freely
  • Lethargy, depression

Common Causes of Cat Eye Problems

bright cat eyes

1) Injury

If you know your cat has sustained an injury to his eye, you should get him to the vet as quickly as possible. The longer the delay, the higher the risk of long-term complications.

2) Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the eyelids and eyeball) may be caused by something that's irritating the eye, or by an infection.

The signs are usually red, watery, inflamed eye or eyes that Kitty will often keep partially or fully shut. Treatment will depend on the cause.

You should consult a vet if you think your cat has conjunctivitis.

3) High blood pressure (feline hypertension)

This often occurs as a side-effect of other diseases, such as diabetes or kidney failure. It can, at worst, cause sudden blindness.

Signs to look out for include pupils that stay large even in bright light, and blood in the chamber of the eye. If your cat has a disease that may cause high blood pressure, he should be regularly monitored by the vet.

4) Glaucoma

This is an increase in pressure within the eyeball. If the pressure gets too great, it can damage the optic nerve, resulting in loss of sight.

It can be treated with medication, and can usually be kept under control if caught early enough. Signs include a red, cloudy eye and dilated pupil.

5) Cataract

Cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye) can be caused by infection, injury, disease and is one of the more common elderly cat health problems. If it's not treated, it can lead to glaucoma.

Treatment of the underlying cause will often help, and surgery to remove the affected lens can sometimes be carried out. The main signs are a hazy looking eye and white, dilated pupil that won't react very well to light.

6) Progressive retinal atrophy

This is a slow-to-develop disease that's usually inherited. There is no cure and it will eventually result in blindness. However it isn't painful, and because it's gradual, the cat usually adapts well. For practical advice on coping with cat blindness, click here.

There are a lot of causes of cat eye problems, and it's not possible to list them all here. If you do notice anything abnormal about your kitty's eyes, you should take him to the vet, as the sooner he's treated, the better.

Click here for some fascinating facts about cat eyes.

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