Brown Eye Discharge in Cats

Healthy eyes should be clear and free of discharge.
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Kitty's eyes may look like he's been crying, but that brown, gunky stuff coming out of his eyes isn't tears. It's discharge, usually because Kitty has an infection in his eyes. Eye discharge is a sign that Kitty's under the weather and it's time for a trip to the vet.

Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is when the lining of Kitty's eyelid becomes infected and inflamed. He'll start to blink a lot and will have discharge from his eyes. You may also notice his eyes getting so gunky he has trouble opening them because the amount of discharge makes his eyelids stick together. Conjunctivitis can be the only problem Kitty has or it could be a symptom of an upper respiratory infection or due to an eye injury. His vet will want to thoroughly examine and clean his eyes, checking for injury or signs of an additional infection. Anti-inflammatory ointment will usually clear up his peepers in a couple of days.

Upper Respiratory Infection

The most common cause of eye discharge is if Kitty gets an upper respiratory infection. This is usually caused by the feline herpesvirus (FHV) or feline calcivirus (FCV). Chlamydia or other bacteria can also be to blame, but this is less frequent. Kitty may develop a cough, runny nose, gunky eyes, sneeze or a mild fever. While it's usually caused by a virus, your cat's vet may give him antibiotics to prevent him from getting an additional disease while his immune system is fighting off the bug. Treatment is just like a human cold. Use a vaporizer to help him breath easier, clean his eyes and nose of any discharge and make sure he's getting enough food and water. The virus may never go away, but go dormant and lead to recurring infections, particularly with FHV.

Uveitis and Glaucoma

Uveitis is when the middle of the three linings on Kitty's eyes becomes inflamed. If he develops this he'll have pain, eye discharge, sensitivity to light, a small pupil and blood in his eyes. His vet will give him NSAID pain relievers, like aspirin or ibuprofen, to reduce swelling and give him some relief. It usually occurs when Kitty has preexisting conditions, such as lymph node problems, feline leukemia, feline herpesvirus or toxoplasmosis. It is the most common contributor in Kitty developing glaucoma, or increased pressure in his eyes, according to The Cat Health Guide website. The fluid in his eyes won't be able to properly drain. He'll need to have surgery to correct the problem and relieve pressure on his eye.

Dry Eyes

Keratitis occurs when Kitty has dry eyes and isn't able to produce enough of his own natural tears. He'll get a mucus discharge from his eyes which can develop into conjunctivitis. He'll need to have his eyes cleaned to get rid of the gunk accumulating around his eyes. If he doesn't produce enough tears, he's also more likely to develop secondary bacterial infections since his eyes are unable to flush out foreign objects. His vet will prescribe special drops for his eyes that replace his natural tears. Unfortunately, he'll have to use the drops for the rest of his life.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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