Pinkeye in Cats

So glad my battle with pinkeye is over and you can admire my blue peepers again.

So glad my battle with pinkeye is over and you can admire my blue peepers again.

Pinkeye in cats isn't that different from pinkeye in people, although most people don't exhibit pink conjunctivas with golden eyes. Formally known as conjunctivitis, pinkeye results from an inflamed conjunctiva, the eyelid's inner lining. Since pinkeye has various causes, your vet figures out the source of the problem before treatment.

Feline Conjunctivitis

Your cat's pinkeye might be caused by a foreign object irritating his conjunctiva; a fungal infection; chlamydia or another bacterial infection; or resulting from malformation of the eyeball. The most common cause of feline pinkeye is feline herpes virus. If your cat's pinkeye is accompanied by an upper respiratory infection, bet on the herpes virus.

Herpes Virus

Viral types of pinkeye in cats almost always result from the herpes virus. Kittens often suffer from the herpes virus and consequently often experience episodes of pinkeye. A kitten's little eyes may become swollen shut from infection, rendering him temporarily blind. In a worst-case scenario, if the pinkeye isn't treated his eye can rupture, causing permanent blindness. If you're caring for kittens with eye issues, open their eyes if they're gunked up, gently wiping the discharge with a moist rag or tissue, and take them to the vet for treatment. Since cats never completely shed the herpes virus, affected kittens may suffer bouts of herpes-related conjunctivitis when stressed out in adulthood. Such stress might result from a move to a new residence, new people or pets in the house, or whatever upsets Kitty's psyche.


Besides the obvious pink coloring around the eye, the eyelid also appears irritated and swollen. His third eyelid might be in evidence. While kitty will likely experience eye discharge, its color and type depend on what's causing the problem: If it's an allergic reaction, the discharge is watery; if it's an infection caused by a virus or bacteria, the discharge is thicker and yellow or green.


While treatment for pinkeye always involves eye ointments, what kind the vet prescribes depends on what's causing the conjunctivitis. The vet will take a sample of the eye discharge to determine the culprit. For allergic pinkeye, she might prescribe antibiotics or steroids. Your cat can benefit from allergy testing to figure out what's triggering the eye issues. If the pinkeye results from a bacterial, viral or fungal infection, the eye ointment will contain medications to fight the particular cause. Generally, your cat's eye should improve within a day or two after the beginning of treatment. If his eye doesn't seem to be getting better, take him back to the vet.

About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

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