If your sweet kitten's eyes are looking unhealthy, she may have an eye infection. Goopy, runny eyes aren't all that uncommon in young kittens, who are vulnerable to picking up bacteria during the birthing process. The herpes virus is also a common cause of eye infections in kittens.
The mucous membrane lining the inner surface of your kitten's eyelids and eyeball is called the conjunctiva. If it becomes inflamed, that's referred to as conjunctivitis. If an infection is causing your kitten's conjunctivitis, her eye may be red and oozing a pus-like discharge or clear fluid containing pus. Other symptoms of an eye infection include eyelids sticking to the front of the eye, eyelids stuck together from dried discharge and bulging eyelids from fluid build-up. If your kitten shows symptoms beyond mild swelling and a bit of clear liquid around her eyes, or if the symptoms persist beyond a couple of days, she should see a vet.
Erythromycin Ophthalmic Ointment
Erythromycin is an antibiotic used to treat a variety of bacterial infections in kittens and cats. It comes in several forms, including tablets for oral dosing; if your kitten has an eye infection, she'll be given an ophthalmic ointment to be applied directly to her eyes. Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment belongs to the macrolide group of antibiotics, which work to stop bacteria from reproducing. It's colorless and poorly water soluble, and can be effective in treating bacterial conjunctivitis in kittens and cats.
If you're charged with medicating your kitten's eyes, it's a fairly simple process, though she may not care for it. Gently use your thumb or forefinger to roll her lower eyelid downward and squeeze the ointment into the exposed space—your vet should show you the appropriate amount. She'll probably close her eye when she gets an eyeful of ointment. That's OK; lightly massage her lid to help distribute it. When she blinks in reaction, that will also help spread the ointment over her eye. Your vet will determine the appropriate dose and duration, but make sure you administer the medication as prescribed. Even if her eyes improve quickly, continue the recommended course of treatment to ensure she's free and clear of any lingering bacteria.
Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment is only one option for treating your kitten's eye infection. The vet will determine the best medicine based on what's causing the problem. Other popular options include a combination neomycin, bacitracin and polymyxin ointment, and eyedrops containing tetracycline or chloramphenicol.
- Vetstreet: Erythromycin (Rx)
- petMD: Eye Infection in Newborn Cats
- Manhattan Cat Specialists: Your Cat's Eyes
- Merck Veterinary Manual: Drugs Used in Treatment of Infectious Disease of the Eye
- WebMD: Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye) in Cats—Types, Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
- Merck Veterinary Manual: Macrolides
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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