Eye infections in kittens often become an issue when the kitten is about 8 - 14 days old when their eyes begin to open. In this post, our Cordova vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of eye infections in kittens.
Causes of Kitten Eye Infections
Newborn kittens often experience infections of the mucous membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the inner surface of the eyeball and eyelids. These infections can be due to contact with infectious vaginal discharge in the birth canal of the mother, or simply from living in unhygienic environments where the kitten is exposed to a host of viruses and bacteria.
Homeless kittens that are brought to animal shelters often have eye infections that require treatment. Some of the viruses and bacteria that can lead to eye infections in kittens include:
- Staphylococcus spp. (bacteria)
- Streptococcus spp. (bacteria)
- Herpesvirus (Feline viral rhinotracheitis or FVR)
Signs of Eye Infections in Kittens
The exact symptoms that your kitten experiences will depend upon the cause of the infection, however, the most common signs can include:
- Red inflamed eyes and eyelids
- Discharge (clear or pus-like)
- Eyelids sticking to the front of the eyes
- Swollen eyelids that bulge outward
- Sores on the surface of the eye
- Collapsed eyeball
Diagnosing Kitten Eye Infections
Your vet will begin with a thorough examination of your kitten to assess their overall health and to look for other signs of viral or bacterial infections. At that time the vet will ask for any information you may have regarding the mother's health and the kitten's living conditions.
If your kitten's eye infection may have been caused during birth, your vet may want to do a culture of the kitten's eye discharge and the mother's vaginal discharge (if possible) to more accurately identify the type of infection.
To check your kitten's eye for signs of trauma, your vet may use eye drops containing a yellow dye to help make any scratches, or foreign objects easier to spot. If your vet suspects that your kitten may have a systemic disease, blood tests and a urinalysis may be recommended to pinpoint any serious health conditions that your kitty may be suffering from.
If you are very concerned with your kitten's eye, our ophthalmology specialist has plenty of experience diagnosing and treating a variety of eye conditions.
Treating Eye Infections in Kittens
Your vet will gently moisten the kitten's eyes with warm water and coax the top and bottom eyelids apart. Once your kitten's eyes are open the vet will delicately wash the eye and eyelids to remove all signs of discharge, pus, or crust. When the eyes are clean your vet may apply a warm compress to help prevent the lids from sticking together again, then apply an antibiotic ointment to begin healing the infection.
Your vet will provide you with detailed instructions for your kitty's home care. Typically your vet will instruct you to gently wash your kitten's eyes a couple of times a day to ensure that discharge doesn't build up, apply a warm compress, and then apply eye ointment or drops as prescribed.
Follow your vet's instructions carefully. It is essential to finish the entire round of antibiotics as instructed, (finishing treatment before the infection has fully cleared could lead to a recurrence or other complications), and be diligent about keeping the bedding extra clean wherever the mother and kittens eat and rest.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.