Tetracycline Ophthalmic Ointment for Cats

See your vet about your furry friend's eye infection.
i Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

If your kitty has uveitis, conjunctivitis or another eye problems caused by a bacterial infection, she needs an antibiotic. Your vet's the one to decide on an appropriate treatment, of course, and he may prescribe a tetracycline ophthalmic ointment. This is a common, effective treatment for eye infections in cats.


Tetracycline is a versatile broad-spectrum antibiotic, which means it's good at eliminating infections caused by lots of different strains of bacteria. It also works on some feline viruses and some fungi that can cause eye infections. Like other antimicrobial agents, tetracycline can be administered in various ways, including topically, orally and intravenously. The ophthalmic ointment is a yellowish liquid topical preparation designed for applying directly to your kitty's infected eye or eyes. "Tetracycline ophthalmic ointment" is a generic name, but the medication is also available in brand-name products, like Pfizer's Terramycin Opthalmic Ointment.


It's important to use tetracycline ophthalmic ointment correctly. Make sure your vet explains exactly how to administer it and spells out all the details of the prescription. Read all the package instructions and warnings before use too. Effective treatment requires the right dosage at the right intervals. Also, though your kitty's symptoms are likely to go away before her infection is completely gone, you should never stop using the medicine before completing the prescribed regimen. Squirt the liquid directly into your kitty's eye, tricky though this may be. It's easiest with two people: have someone hold your cat while you administer the medicine. Be careful not to touch your kitty's eye with the tip of the applicator, because she might get hurt and you can dirty the tip. Prescriptions generally call for anywhere from two to six doses per day, depending on the severity of the infection and other factors.

The Right Antibiotic

No antibiotic works against every type of bacteria, and sometimes these drugs cause accelerated growth of microorganisms they aren't effective against. Even though it's a broad-spectrum antibiotic, tetracycline is no exception, and there's always a chance your kitty has an infection caused by an unaffected or resistant strain. If your kitty doesn't seem to be getting better—or seems to be getting worse—within a few days, check in with your vet. He most likely prescribed tetracycline ophthalmic ointment on the good chance that a broad-spectrum treatment would work. If it doesn't, he'll perform a culture to identify the bacteria strain that's infecting your furry friend. Then he can prescribe a targeted antibiotic that's much more likely to be effective.


Again, don't stop giving your kitty the tetracycline ophthalmic ointment just because she looks better; symptoms usually clear up before the infection is eliminated. Allergic reactions are a possibility, so if your kitty develops any new redness, swelling, hives, rash or other symptoms after use, don't apply any more of the medicine and take her to the vet's office or an animal hospital to get checked out. If your kitty has had an allergic response to another antibiotic ending in "-cycline," let your vet know and get an alternate prescription for a different class of antibiotics. Side effects aren't usually a problem with a topical antibiotic, but some irritation may result in the area. If you notice anything that might be a side effect, mention it to your vet. And of course, don't use tetracycline ophthalmic ointment for cats on any animal other than the one for whom it was prescribed.

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.

the nest