While cats don't have as many eye problems as dogs, they are not immune to them. Conjunctivitis is one of the main eye diseases they can contract. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the pink membrane part of the eye, which lines the white part known as the sclera, and the inner eyelid.
The conjunctiva can become quite swollen and reddened in some cases, and is usually just in one eye rather than both. This can cause the cat to squint intermittently or constantly. Conjunctivitis can occur on and off, for months and in some cases, even years.
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis in cats?
There are several common symptoms of this disease, including:
Regular and excessive blinking
Redness of the eye tissue
Fluid build up in the eye
Upper respiratory infection
Source : Cat World
What are the causes of conjunctivitis in cats?
Most of the causes of conjunctivitis in cats are infectious. The most common causes of infectious cat conjunctivitis are the following:
Feline Herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1): This is an acute upper respiratory tract infection, kittens and cats in overcrowded environments such as shelters are most commonly affected.
Calicivirus: This is another common upper respiratory infection which is most often seen in kittens, overcrowded environments or immunocompromised cats. FHV-1 and Calicivirus are responsible for 80-90% of upper respiratory infections in cats.
Bartonella: This is the bacteria responsible for cat scratch disease in cats. Infected cats generally have mild and self-limiting symptoms including fever, swollen lymph nodes, uveitis, and conjunctivitis.
Feline Chlamydophila: This is a bacterial infection characterised by mind rhinitis, fever, localised lymph node swelling and ocular discharge.
Non-infectious cat conjunctivitis can be caused by the following:
Allergies: From plants, pollens etc.
Blepharitis: This is an inflammation of the eyelid, which causes swelling and discomfort. Swelling can lead to irritation of the underlying conjunctiva.
Foreign object: Grass seed, hair, sand, eyelash.
Irritants: This could be from smoke, fumes or dust for example.
Injury: A scratch.
Entropion: This is a condition in which the eyelids fold inwards, this causes the eyelashes to rub against the eye, which causes irritation. Persians and Exotics are particularly at risk of this.
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS/dry eye): This is an inflammation of both the cornea and the conjunctiva and sicca means dry. This is caused by a lack of tears reaching the surface of the eyes which is caused by trauma, inflammation of the conjunctival glands and ducts, scarring etc.
Keratitis: This is an inflammation of the cornea, there are a number of causes including infectious and non-infectious. It is possible for inflammation to progress to the conjunctiva.
How do you treat conjunctivitis in cats?
Treatment depends on the cause of conjunctivitis. If there is a suspected food or environmental allergen causing the infection, the issue should clear up when the identified allergen is removed from the cat's environment.
If the infection is due to a virus, there are some commonly prescribed medications to manage the inflammation, including oral and topical (external) antibiotics.
Vaccination is also a common treatment option to prevent against other viral outbreaks in the future. In serious cases, surgery may be required to remove any blockages that are found to be present in the eye.
How do I prevent my cat from getting conjunctivitis?
Limiting exposure to other animals that are possibly infected can prevent recurrence of conjunctivitis. Also, some vaccinations have proven effective at minimizing the risk of developing this condition.