Eye infections in kittens are usually noticed when they are between 8 and 14 days old, and their eyes start to open. While there are multiple causes for eye infections, it is commonly observed by our Gaithersburg veterinarians that homeless kittens and barn cats are more prone to them.
Causes of Kitten Eye Infections
It's common for newborn kittens to develop infections in the mucous membrane that lines their eyes. This can happen when they come into contact with infectious vaginal discharge during birth or from living in unclean environments where they can be exposed to various viruses and bacteria.
Kittens who end up at animal shelters may frequently have eye infections that need attention. Various viruses and bacteria can cause eye infections in kittens.
- Staphylococcus spp. (bacteria)
- Streptococcus spp. (bacteria)
- Herpesvirus (Feline viral rhinotracheitis or FVR)
Symptoms of Eye Infections in Kittens
The symptoms your kitten experiences will vary based on the infection's cause, but the most typical ones 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
During your kitten's veterinary examination, your vet will conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine their overall health and to check for any indications of viral or bacterial infections. At this point, your vet may inquire about the mother's health and the kitten's living conditions for any relevant information.
If the eye infection could have been contracted during birth, your vet may perform a culture of the kitten's eye discharge and the mother's vaginal discharge (if possible) to accurately identify the infection type.
To examine your kitten's eye for signs of trauma, your vet may use eye drops that contain a yellow dye to make any scratches or foreign objects more visible.
If your vet suspects that your kitten may have a systemic disease, they may recommend blood tests and urinalysis to identify any serious health conditions that your kitten may be experiencing.
Treatment For Eye Infections in Kittens
During your kitten's appointment with the vet, they will use warm water to moisten the eyes and carefully separate the top and bottom eyelids. After opening the eyes, the vet will gently clean the eye and eyelids to eliminate any discharge, pus, or crust. To prevent the eyelids from sticking together again, a warm compress may be applied, followed by the application of an antibiotic ointment to start healing the infection.
After your visit to the vet, you will receive detailed instructions on how to take care of your kitten at home. Usually, you will be advised to wash your kitten's eyes gently a few times a day to prevent discharge buildup, use a warm compress, and apply eye ointment or drops as directed.
Make sure to follow the instructions given by your vet carefully. It's important to complete the full course of antibiotics as advised, as stopping treatment before the infection has fully cleared could result in the infection coming back or other issues. Additionally, be sure to keep the bedding where the mother and kittens eat and rest extra clean.
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.