What is feline pink eye?

Feline conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is similar to the disease that people get. Basically, it's a problem where a part of the eye in the cat will start to get irritated and inflamed (the conjunctiva - hence the name). Usually you can't see it - but when the cat gets conjunctivitis, it will start to get red and swollen. That makes it visible to people and gives the cat the "pink" look to its eyes.


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What are the symptoms?

Obviously, the eye will start to look reddened. It won't look exactly like you'd think in a person (remember, people's eyes are white on parts of them, cats usually have different colors with a black slit in the middle). But you will see definite reddening of the eye. It doesn't have to be both eyes - it could just be one. You may see the third eyelid in cats that have pinkeye becoming more prominent. Sometimes you will see eye discharge in your cat as well. There may be swelling, and the cat could look like it's closing its eyes all the time.

What causes conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is usually caused by an eye infection. This means some pretty contagious bacteria, so you need to be careful if you've got multiple cats - a temporary "quarantine" of the sick cat to one room is a good idea. The infection can be brought on by a number of causes: contact with another cat, injury to the eye somehow (fighting, running into stuff, etc.), or sometimes other diseases can cause it as a secondary effect such as feline AIDS. Kittens can be more vulnerable to it, mainly because the immune system of a kitten is weaker.

What is the treatment?

Usually, antibiotics. They kill off the bacteria pretty effectively in most cases and it should clear up. The antibiotics often come in the form of eye drops or pills.

Why does my cat keep getting pinkeye over and over?

This can happen sometimes to cats. One big cause is a deformity of the eye. It doesn't have to be weird-looking, Hunchback of Notre Dame style deformity - we're talking slight problems with the curve of the eyelid. That can make it easier for bacteria and foreign objects to get caught in the eye. There is also a theory that conjunctivitis in cats is in some or many cases caused by a herpes virus. You might want to have your vet check for that. Basically, the theory is that the virus is a chronic illness in the cats and causes periodic flare-ups of the pinkeye.

If your cat is getting it repeatedly, you may need to change your treatment options. The germs can build up immunity to the antibiotics if you don't.

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