Parents with small children will probably already be familiar with the perils of pinkeye (or conjunctivitis). It's possible for children to get it from others. Next thing you know, you're nursing your child's inflamed eyes, cleaning away that telltale discharge, and scheduling an appointment with your doctor to get some antibiotics. However, did you know that it's also quite common for your cat to develop conjunctivitis?
A Viral Cause
Many cats are carriers of feline viral rhinotracheitis, which is often just referred to as feline herpes. Similar to herpes in humans, when a cat is infected with feline herpes, they have it for life. Feline herpes is dormant for the most part, however, your cat can experience flare-ups, and conjunctivitis can be one of these flare-ups. Even vaccinated cats can be affected by feline viral rhinotracheitis, although the vaccination will minimize the severity of any symptoms your cat might experience. How do you know when your cat's conjunctivitis has become severe?
What to Look For
The signs of feline conjunctivitis can be compared to the human version of the condition. The tissues surrounding your cat's eyes will become inflamed, and their eyes will produce a considerable amount of discharge — almost as though they're crying. You can monitor the situation with adult, otherwise healthy cats. However, kittens and senior cats (or adult cats with existing medical conditions) might be at risk of further complications.
Your Cat's Immune System
Because feline viral rhinotracheitis typically affects a cat's respiratory system, their conjunctivitis might be one of several other ways in which the virus is attacking your poor cat's body. When the tissues around their eyes appear swollen, and the discharge is hardening into a crust, it can be a sign that their immune system is in danger of being overwhelmed. Treating conjunctivitis is perhaps one of the more common pet services your vet offers, and it's best to have your cat checked out.
Treating Your Cat
Your vet can apply topical treatment, thoroughly cleaning any hardened discharge without harming the delicate tissues around your cat's eyes. Your cat will generally also require a course of antibiotics to aid their immune system in beating this particularly severe flare-up. Since feline viral rhinotracheitis is the culprit, your vet will also assess your cat's respiratory and pulmonary systems to ensure that there are no additional complications that might require urgent attention.
For most cats, conjunctivitis is little more than an annoyance. But when it seems especially severe, or when your cat is in a risk group, it's wise to see veterinary treatment. Contact a veterinary service for more information.
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