Contemplating the loss of one of your beloved kitty's eyes isn't easy. However, keep in mind that such a drastic surgery is only done for your cat's good, and he won't realize it makes him look funny. Enucleation is vetspeak for eye removal.
According to Veterinary Practice News, the major reasons for enucleation surgery include constant eye pain, severe glaucoma, eye cancer, serious trauma, intractable infection, the eye disease chronic uveitis or an extreme eye bulge. If your cat is blind in the eye but it doesn't cause pain, your vet probably won't recommend enucleation, but there's little point in keeping a painful, non-seeing orb. Depending on the diagnosis, your vet can perform the surgery or she will refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Before the surgery, your cat receives a general anesthetic and the hair around the eye is clipped. The actual procedure is fairly straightforward. The vet removes the globe of the eye, along with the cat's third eyelid, conjunctiva, tear glands and eyelids. After removal, the vet sews the eyelid closed, either with stitches that require removal in approximately two weeks or interior stitches that eventually dissolve. Depending on the reason for the eye's removal, your vet should send the eye to a pathologist for analysis. This is crucial if the eye was removed because of cancer.
Most cats recover quite well. Fluffy probably feels much better without constant eye pain. While the area around the incision will swell initially, that should go down within a few days. Fluffy will need to wear an Elizabethan collar until healing is complete so he doesn't scratch the incision. Your vet will likely prescribe pain medication for a few days use, along with antibiotics to combat potential infection. If your cat used to go outdoors, becoming a strictly indoor kitty might be a bigger adjustment for him than losing an eye, but going outside is too risky for a one-eyed feline. Approach him carefully from his blind side to avoid startling him.
If your dog's eye required enucleation, your vet might suggest implanting a prosthesis if you'd like him to have two eyes for cosmetic purposes. However, that's not practical for a cat. Because of the physical characteristics of the cat's eye, prostheses have a high complication rate and can cause him harm.
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.
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.