Conjunctivitis in cats, also referred to as pink eye, is the most common eye condition that will affect your feline, and it can be very painful to your pet. It can come and go quite frequently, or it can become chronic.
Although it is a common condition, it should be taken very seriously as if left untreated it could cause corneal ulcers in your pet’s eyes and could blind them.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue that lines the eyelids of the eyeball near the cornea. It is a transparent membrane that covers the sclera, the white part of your cat’s eye, and is composed of numerous small blood vessels. These vessels act as lubricates and protects the eye socket of your cat.
When the eye becomes infected or injured these vessels dilate making the white parts look reddish, thus the term pink eye. Bacteria as well as a virus can cause this condition.
There are several possible conditions that can cause conjunctivitis. Your cat may have a congenital defect such as a very small tear duct that does not allow for proper lubrication, scar tissue that has remained from a previous infection in the eye, or a new infection. It can also be caused by allergies of some type such as second hand smoke, pollen, or some types of grass. It can also be caused by bacteria or fungi.
However, in most all cats, the cause will be an infection; and that infection will be from the Herpes virus.
Most every cat will be vaccinated against herpes as kittens, but this virus is extremely strong and can lay dormant in your cat for along time waiting for your pet’s immune system to become weak. Vaccination does not prevent this form of the infection, but it does make it much less severe. The vaccination is totally geared for upper respiratory infections, or feline distemper.
Since this infection attacks the immune system, cats that are under a lot of stress are more at risk to develop conjunctivitis. Pink eye is actually very painful as it causes a lot of watery discharge in your pet.
Cats by their nature do not like bright light, and as a result they squint a lot. However, if your cat starts to squint a lot more than normal, this is your first warning sign.
Conjunctivitis usually only affects one eye, and the next symptoms you should watch for is the swelling of an eye as well as any type of watering or crusting.
When this happens, the last symptom to watch for is your cat continually rubbing their eyes with their paws, or constantly rubbing them against a stationary object as they are trying to get whatever is in there out.
Once the rubbing starts, your cat most likely has conjunctivitis.
Next you will need to watch for the consistency of the type of discharge, as this will help you to determine the actual cause. If infected by bacteria, the eyelids of your cat will actually stick together. If it is a very clear and watery discharge, this is probably an allergic reaction and not anywhere near as severe.
Whatever the cause is, you should have it treated immediately after it has surfaced. Your veterinarian can run a culture test to determine the actual cause, and eye drops or ointments will usually be the treatment.
If it is determined to be an allergy, medications containing an anti-inflammatory agent are most often recommended and usually contain hydrocortisone in some form. However, if chronic, be very careful, as this form of treatment may slow the healing process and make it much worse if your cat is developing corneal ulcers in the eye.
Once treated, the condition should dissipate within a week or two.
Since conjunctivitis is most often linked to an infection that attacks your cat’s immune system, there are several things that you can do to help build their system to prevent further attacks.
You can supplement them with several options.
Giving your cat vitamins A, C and E will help their immune system as all three have antioxidant properties that help protect your cat’s eye lens. Vitamin C is especially potent as it also is a pollutant fighter as well as helps to clean toxins from the blood and eye tissues.
The mineral zinc helps to protect eye tissues from the damages of bright lights as well as an inflammation agent, and is found in traces in your pet’s retinal tissues. Lutein also is very effective in protecting your cat’s eyes from ultraviolet radiation, something they are very sensitive to.
And finally, try some bilberry extract and add some to there food. This is often refereed to as the vision herb. It is derived from a fruit that is very similar to blueberries and is especially effective in the early stage of conjunctivitis in cats. If you catch the symptoms very early, have them treated, than help to prevent conjunctivitis from future attacks, you cat will lead a much happier life.