Bacitracin is a naturally occurring antibiotic, produced by the bacillus genus of micro-organisms that make antibiotics. If Fluffy has eye issues, the vet may recommend using bacitracin to prevent infection. Bacitracin is more effective when combined with other antibiotics, and it won't work on viral or fungal infections.
If Fluffy has a bacterial eye infection, the vet will likely recommend a medication that's a combination of opthalmic antibiotics. A combination of antibiotics, such as bacitracin, neomycin and polymyxin, can fight a broader range of bacteria. Used on its own, bacitracin is usually not as effective as when it's part of a mix of antibiotics. Prescribed antibiotic ointments often include a steroid to act as an anti-inflammatory and soothe the eye.
Ointments and Solutions
Combination antibiotics are available in ointment and solution form. The type your vet recommends for Fluffy will depend on her condition. Eye drop solutions do a better job of penetrating the cornea and conjunctiva -- the pink membrane in her eye. Solutions are also absorbed more thoroughly than ointments.
Using Opthalmic Ointment
Fluffy's condition will dictate how often she needs ointment application. Ointments have the advantage of making more long-term contact with the eye than solutions, so they usually don't have to be administered as frequently as drops. Venetian Pet Hospital's website notes a cat with mild conjunctivitis may need ointment administered every eight to 12 hours yet require drops every six to eight hours. The important thing is to give Fluffy her medication as directed. Even if her eyes look better, don't quit giving her the medication; always continue treatment for the prescribed duration.
When Opthalmic Ointment Is Useful
A bacitracin ointment is useful for myriad conditions, particularly bacterial conjunctivitis. If Fluffy has a type of conjunctivitis not caused by bacterial infection, but is viral or fungal in nature, she may still receive a bacitracin antibiotic treatment if the vet feels there's a secondary infection present. Eye wounds, corneal ulcers and inflamed corneas are also helped with antibiotic ointments.
Bacitracin doesn't often have side effects; in combination antibiotic treatment, side effects tend to come from neomycin. Some cats experience allergic reactions to combination opthalmic medication, though, as a rule, they tolerate the medicine well. Though it's tempting to use a bacitracin ointment whenever Fluffy's eyes look runny, it isn't recommended to do regularly. Too-frequent use can cause resistance to the antibiotic.