Friday 25 November 2022

Woman adopted three kittens who had their eyes removed

The Express newspaper carries a story which caught my eye, but which is a slight misrepresentation of the truth as I see it. The headline is "Pet owners warned about illness that is leaving kittens and cats at risk of blindness".

They say that cat flu exposes a kitten to the possibility of blindness. And the way they've pitched the story is that the three kittens caught cat flu and lost their eyes, but I would very much doubt that that is the case (but it can rarely happen). And under normal circumstances cat flu is not a treat to kittens in terms of causing blindness. The kittens' owner would have to be incredibly careless if it did happen.

Note: this is the image from The Express newspaper, but it appears to be a stock photo (Getty Images), and these are not therefore the kittens concerned. These kittens have not lost their eyes, I believe. They are just sleeping. The image is published here under fair use principles as this page is educational.

What is far more likely, but I am guessing is that the three kittens were rescued by an animal rescue organisation and brought to a veterinarian. They probably developed secondary bacterial infections in their eyes after they caught cat flu (a viral infection), and this is indeed very common.

When bacterial infections of the eye are untreated, the bacteria eat away at the eyeball and renders the kitten blind. It can affect one eye or both.

This dire state is brought about through lack of veterinary treatment which would be the administration of antibiotics to kill the bacteria.

Normally, you are not going to get that situation occurring in a home with domestic cats. If for some unknown reason a person is allowing their cats to breed informally, they will end up with kittens but unless they are incredibly callous and careless, they will notice that their kittens have a cat cold and deal with it in the normal way.

The treatment might include an early dose of antibiotics to prevent the emergence of a secondary bacterial infection. In short, you're not going to get untreated bacterial infections of the eyes unless you are dealing with a very careless cat owner or stray and feral cats.

When I read the article, I thought I would need to look for some mysterious illness but right away I realised that this was about URIs (upper respiratory infections). And this did not square up with the tone of the article which implied that they were writing about domestic cats in general.

Regarding vaccinations, they can help to prevent cat flu as the cat flu component is included in the primary vaccination course and often in a booster programme.

RELATED: Infographic on URIs in domestic cats.

However, sometimes cat owners are careless on vaccinations as well as being careless on allowing their cats to breed. This is a small minority of people, but it is significant because the contribute to the population of unwanted cats.

The person who adopted the three kittens, a Greater Manchester resident, Su Taylor, said that they are coping well. She said: "They've settled in wonderfully and run around like normal cats. But it is a shame they had to lose their eyes as it didn't need to happen".

That implies to me that she is referring to a domestic cat owner who was careless and allowed the kids to develop bad eye infections which shouldn't happen obviously. But as I've stated it is far more likely that kittens who develop these eye infections are abandoned cats or feral cats.

RELATED: What antibiotics are used for upper respiratory infections in cats?

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