Signs and Treatment of Cat Eye Infection

" Cat eye infection can be due to scratches on the cornea, bacterial infection or other eye injuries. If your cat has any kind of eye problem, it's best to visit the veterinarian for a complete examination and to rule out anything more complicated. Infections can also caused by the Feline Herpes Virus or the bacterial infection Chlamydiosis. The most common symptoms are redness and discharge in the eye. Bacterial infection need to be treated with antibiotics or medicated eye drops prescribed by your veterinarian."

As mentioned in this video from the Cat Health Guide You Tube Channel on cat eye infection, Dr. Patrick McHale, DVM describes the common causes of this type of cat eye problem and provides treatment advice.


Dr. Patrick McHale from our Cat Health You Tube Channel

Cat Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis in cats or cat pink eye refers to inflammation in the lining of the inner surface of the eyelids. It can be due to an infection or something in your cat's environment.

The conjuntiva has antibodies which work to both fight of infection and lubricate the eyeball. Often, when an organism triggers a feline immune system response to a viral or bacterial invader, the result is feline conjunctivitis. 

cat eye infection
Cat Eye Infection that is causing case of Feline Conjunctivitis
Source: Washington State University

Causes of Conjunctivitis in Cats

Cat eye symptoms due to  feline conjunctivitis:

  • Eye discharge (thick or watery, light or dark)
  • Swollen eyelid
  • Red eyelid
  • Squinting
  • Blinking frequently

Cat conjunctivitis will often heal with no treatment.  However, if a cat is in pain or has eye discharge, be sure to consult with a veterinarian.  The most common treatment is antibiotics and antiviral medications (for herpesvirus.

Viral Cat Eye Infections:

Feline Herpesvirus 1

This virus is unique to cats and is the most common cause of conjunctivitis. It is spread by infected cats and in rare cases from a virus that is on a contaminated surface. Treatment includes medicated eye drops.

Other problems that tend to occur as a result of this virus include:

  • Ulcer or sore on the cornea (ulcerative keratitis)
  • Inflamed cornea (stromal keratitis)
  • Inflammation of the cornea and conjunctive or covering of the white portion of the eye (proliferative keratoconjunctivitis)
  • Segment of dead bone (corneal sequestrum)
  • Eyeballs stuck to the eyelid (corneal symblepharon)
  • Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)

Feline Herpes Conjunctivitis Picture

Feline Herpes Virus Conjuntivitis Picture

Feline Panleukopenia

Feline Panleukopenia is a vaccine preventable disease that is part of the core recommended vaccines. Panleukopenia is very contagious and can be fatal. It is often found in wild cats that were never vaccinated.

This infection can cause the retina in the eye to take on an abnormal (retinal dysplasia) and can cause lesions on the eye.

Other symptoms that accompany changes in the eye include:

  • Vomiting
  • High fever
  • Inability to gain weight (anorexia)
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea (not common)

There is no effective treatment for this condition.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline infectious peritonitis is caused by a coronavirus. Symptoms include inflammation on the inside of the eye behind the cornea (called Anterior uveitis) and fiber deposits on the back of the cornea ( keratic precipitates). Puss (called hypopyon)can also be present.

Inflamed lesions may occur including eye inflammation and a detached retina. It is not easy to diagnose this disease with tests only suggesting its presence.

Cats with FIP will only survive for a few months. Treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs such as prednisone will help to provide a good quality of life during this time.

Feline Leukemia Complex

This condition can effect any portion of the eye. This virus is caught by direct contact with an infected cat. Associated symptoms include anemia (reduced number of red blood cells) and lymphoma which is unusual cell growth in the lymph glands.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

The feline immunodeficiency virus is transmitted when one cat bites another. It starts with a long period without signs of the disease. This period is followed by increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections. The virus resembles the human aids virus.

Symptoms include weakness or lethargy, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, weight loss, chronic diarrhea, chronic upper respiratory diseases, chronic inflammation of the lining in the mouth (stomatitis), ginigivitis and chronic skin infections.

Treatment of FIV is with drugs used for aids in humans including antiviral drugs and Interferon alpha. Supportive care is provided for symptoms including transfusions, fluid therapy. Life expectancy for cats with this disease is 2 years.

Feline Calicivirus

Almost all cats with an upper respiratory infection have this virus. Conjunctivitis accompanies this disease.

Symptoms can include fever, inflammed membrane in the nose (rhinitis), redness in the eyes (conjunctivitis) and nasal discharge.

Treatment is with antibiotics.

Bacterial Cat Eye Infection


This is the second most common cause of cat conjunctivitis. Other symptoms include fever, irritated nose (rhinitis), conjunctivitis (redness in the eye), palatine and/or glossal ulcerations and nasal discharge.

The condition is treated with Tetracycline.

Protozoal Infections


Toxoplasmosis is common in cats. It causes of many cases of inflammation that occur inside the lining of the eye (feline anterior uveitis). It is difficult to diagnose this condition.

Treatment is with the oral medication clindamycine.

Fungal Cat Eye Infection


Cryptococcosis is caught from your cats environment. Eye problems associated with this infection are peripheral blindness, dilated eyes, and pupils that do not respond to light, detached retinas, an inflamed retina and blindness.

Eye problems are a sign that the cryptococcosis is effecting the central nervous system.

Other symptoms include changes in your cats temperament, odd behavior, depression, seizures, circling behavior, seizures, head pressing, head tilt, uncoordinated movements (ataxia) and dementia.

The prognosis for cats with this condition is good with long term administration of oral anti-fungal medications (triazole, fluconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole).

Natural Treatment for Cat Eye Infection

While no substitute for medicated cat eye medications such as antibiotics, natural remedies could provide some support if eye redness is a common problem. Pet Alive Eye-Heal is worth researching since it is made specifically to provide an option for natural treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis in feline eye infection. Discuss this option with your veterinarian so that she or he can track progress.

Ask Our Vet a Question about a Cat Eye Infection

Do you have a question about a cat eye problem? Share it! We'll pick one question to answer each week for free.

Please let us know about the age of the cat, breed, when any cat skin symptoms began, is the problem in one or both eyes, have the symptoms changed over time, is your cat primarily indoor or outdoor, the presence of other pets, changes in your cats routine, bathing routine, or anything else that will help us understand your cat's medical history, including any tests and results.

If possible, please include a picture. Seeing the skin problem can help us improve suggestions made. Please include information such as breed, age, sex, history, changes in behavior, products used etc.

We will try and respond as quickly as possible. If you have an urgent question we suggest using this online veterinary cat answer service that is staffed by vets and available 24 hours a day. You only pay a small fee for answers you accept.

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References Cat Eye Infection:

Feline Infectious Peritonitis - News in Diagnosis and Treatment
K. Hartmann
Medizinische Kleintierklinik
Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany

European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases

Ocular Manifestations of Feline Systemic Diseases
Ophthalmology. Clinique 

Feline Corneal Diseases
A. Regnier
Department of Clinical Sciences, Ecole Nationale

Major Infectious Diseases of Dogs and Cats
G.R. Carter
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg

Cornell Feline Health Center
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine