Pink eye is the common name for the disease conjunctivitis, which refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the mucous membrane that covers the back of the eyelid and the surface of the eyeball. In cats, this membrane is not very prominent under normal conditions. But, when they are affected by conjunctivitis, the conjunctiva becomes inflamed and red, and quite noticeable. In general, conjunctivitis is not a major health problem. But occasionally, it can lead to certain complications like vision problems, especially if it is left untreated.
Signs and Symptoms
As the name suggests, pink eye often manifests itself in a pinkish or reddish conjunctiva, that can look quite prominent. Additionally, this condition can be accompanied by excessive tearing and eye discharge. The eye discharge can be watery or thick.
If this eye disease is caused by infections, then the discharge will be thick, and yellow or greenish in color. But if it is caused by other factors, then the discharge will be clear and watery. The thick and pus-like eye discharge can cause crusting, which in turn, can cause the eyelids to stick together when the eye is closed.
In addition to these, the affected cat may experience swollen or inflamed eyelids, pain, protrusion of the third eyelid, blinking, squinting, and difficulty in opening the affected eye. All these discomforts can compel the cat to rub the affected eye frequently.
What Causes Conjunctivitis
Mild cases of conjunctivitis can be associated with allergies, a minor injury or trauma to the eye, and the presence of foreign particles and irritants in the eye. These factors can be termed as the non-infectious causes of this eye disease. On the other hand, bacteria, viruses, and fungi are the infectious causes of feline conjunctivitis.
The infectious agent that is most commonly found to cause this eye infection is a virus, known as feline herpes virus-1. This virus is also known to cause upper respiratory infections in cats, for which conjunctivitis can be sometimes accompanied by symptoms like sneezing. Apart from viruses, bacteria can also cause this eye disease. There are mainly two types of bacteria that can cause conjunctivitis in your cat, and these are known as chlamydia and mycoplasma.
Diagnosis and Treatment
This condition can be diagnosed with a proper evaluation of the symptoms, and with the help of a culture of the swab collected from the infected eye. The treatment for feline conjunctivitis depends on its severity and the underlying causes. If it is caused by bacterial infections, then appropriate antibacterial eye drops and ointments can be required for treating this condition. Sometimes, oral antibiotics may also be recommended by the veterinarian.
In general, feline conjunctivitis can be managed with eye drops and ointments, while at other times, it can require the administration of injections under the conjunctiva. The systematic treatment options available for this condition are, injections and oral medications. However, a complete cure is not possible, if it is caused by viruses. But prompt treatment can help reduce the severity of the condition, and avoid the complications associated with it.
If feline pink eye is mild, and is caused by foreign particles or allergens, then it can be alleviated by simply irrigating or cleaning the eyes at regular intervals. You can use cotton swabs and slightly warm water to gently remove the discharge, and loosen the crust on the eyelids.
Certain home remedies can also be used to treat the mild cases of this eye disease. Eyebright can be an effective home remedy, which has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Apart from eyebright, herbs like goldenseal, rosemary, chamomile, calendula, and fennel can also prove beneficial for this condition. But be sure to consult a veterinarian before using any of these home remedies.
Is Feline Pink Eye Contagious to Humans?
Conjunctivitis in general is highly contagious, and it can spread from one eye to another, and from an infected person to a healthy individual through the direct contact with the eye discharge. So, this condition can spread from an infected cat to another cat, and also to a human being.
The transmission of the disease from cats to humans can take place while cleaning the infected eyes. Many times, pet owners touch and clean the eyes of their cats, and then touch their own eyes with the same hand. Therefore, it is very important to wash your hands properly after cleaning or applying medications on the infected eyes of your pet.
To sum up, pink eye is a contagious disease. So, pet owners need to maintain proper hygiene while treating their pets so as to prevent the transmission of the disease. At the same time, make sure that your cat gets appropriate treatment for this eye disease. Otherwise, it can occasionally affect the other parts of the eye. The severe cases of conjunctivitis can lead to complications like loss of vision or blindness at times. So, be sure to take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible on observing the symptoms of this eye disease.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.