|Cat Pink Eye - Feline Conjunctivitis - Photo by Elisa Black-Taylor|
Cat pink eye is layman's language for feline conjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of the membrane at the back of the eyelids and the surface of the eyeball not including the cornea (the transparent front part of the eye).
It is fairly common and nearly always caused by a viral and/or bacterial infection. The eye is red/pink. The eye itches. The cat or kitten will paw at the eye. If left untreated it can affect eyesight.
A mild form of cat pink eye is "serous conjunctivitis". It can be caused by non-infectious agents such as allergens. If can also be a symptom of feline viral respiratory disease. It can be treated at home: eye cleansed with sterile ophthalmic irrigation solution as used for people. A vet visit may be advisable, however.
When the cat pink eye is more serious i.e. when there is mucus and crust around the eye a secondary bacterial infection is indicated (chlamydophila or mycoplasma - these are types of bacteria). This is called "purulent conjunctivitis". The first infection, a viral infection might be herpes virus, calcivirus (see URIs).
Feline conjunctivitis can rarely be caused by a fungus.
You will have to take your cat/kitten to a vet I am afraid. Treatments include irrigation, warm soaks and antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection (Neosporin ophthalmic ointment for example - USA product).
The condition can be perpetuated by organisms being shed in the cat's stool or urine - carrier state. A vet will deal with this through a 3 week course of treatment - see the vet please.
There are two other forms of feline conjunctivitis listed in the Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook: Follicular Conjunctivitis and Neonatal Conjunctivitis. The first is an irritation of the eye leading to a discharge that is caused by rough mucous glands. It is thought that the glands become rough due to allergens, pollens and infections. A vet is once again required and steroids might be prescribed. The latter condition is a bacterial infection below the eyelids. It happens before the newborn kitten's eyes open up.
Update from Elisa: The mother's nipples may need to be wiped after nursing as this can spread the condition to all of the kittens..thanks Elisa.
The cat in the picture is called "Pinky" and at the time the photo was taken Pinky couldn't see. This might be temporary. We will see. He's on Clavamox and Gentamicin antibiotic eye drops. Here are two photos showing slow progress. The first one I find very hard to look at to be honest:
|Two days before the pic below - Photo copyright Elisa|
|Two days after the photo above|
photo copyright Elisa
|Pinky about 2 weeks later|
- Photo copyright Elisa
You can see in the last image that Elisa has worked her magic with plenty of TLC and the right antibiotics. I can feel the relief from the irritation and discomfort. Well done Elisa. The job is not quite finished but a massive improvement.
Another update - Pinky getting better - phew. I felt for him:
|Pinky getting better thanks to Elisa's devoted work|
photo copyright Elisa
Here is another update. A photo of Pinky taken 27th May 2011. I have cropped to a close up of the eyes and enhanced the contrast etc. to show up the legacy of this severe bacterial infection. He is much, much better but still has a little way to go to be in good health.
|Last bits of feline conjunctivitis - photo copyright Elisa.|
|1-6-11 - The improvement continues - phew|
I can feel the relief - Photo: Elisa
Update September 2015 - about 2-3 years later. Here is Pinky looking adult with slight "scaring" (around his nose - or am I incorrect?) from his horrible conjunctivitis but his eyes look fine now. He has been adopted. A good ending to a bad start to life. Elisa deserves a pat on the back for getting him over that terrible period.
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