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What to Do If Your Cat's Eyes Are Swelling

Posted by Dr. Roth on March 15, 2022

Medical Advice
Wellness Care
What to do if?
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The clear, bright gaze of a cat can be one of a pet parent’s greatest joys. But what happens when those bright eyes become swollen, red, or runny?

There are lots of reasons why cats’ eyes get swollen. Most of the time, the problem is easy to treat and the cat can start feeling better quickly. Still, it’s important for pet parents to recognize more serious warning signs.

Causes of Eye Swelling

Most of the time, cats’ eyes get swollen because of a viral infection. One common scenario is conjunctivitis, which most people know as pink eye. (Yes, cats get it too.) Pink Eye causes the eye’s lining to swell up, leading to redness, inflammation, itching, and discharge.

Cats’ eyes can also swell due to upper respiratory infections, just like people’s eyes get red because of head colds. Upper respiratory infection and pink eye can affect cats of any age but are most common in younger cats and kittens, who have weaker immune systems.

Only a vet can determine whether a cat’s eyes are swollen due to infection. There are a number of other possible causes including: 

  • ‌Problems with the cornea (the convex surface of the eye)

  • ‌Over-functioning or under-functioning tear ducts

  • ‌A foreign object in the eye

  • ‌Allergies

  • ‌Injury

‌Less common causes of eye swelling include autoimmune disease, leukemia, and cancer. It’s always best to check in with a vet and find out what might be going on, and what might help.

Eye Issue Red Flags

It’s not always easy for a pet parent to see whether a cat’s eyes are swollen. It’s important to look out for:

  • ‌Yellow, green, or clear discharge

  • ‌Sneezing, wheezing, or a runny nose

  • ‌Cuts on the eyelid

  • ‌An inflamed third eyelid

‌ Their third eyelid is located at the inner corner of the eye. It’s usually hidden when a cat is awake and alert, but if there’s an infection, it may swell up and start to cover the eye. A swollen third eyelid is a sign of many different cat illnesses, including eye infections. 

Pet parents should also watch out for chronic eye rubbing and squinting, both of which are signs of eye discomfort. Cats with eye discomfort should see a vet as soon as possible, as some causes may be serious.

Remedies and Treatments

Most of the time, the best first-line treatment for swollen cat eyes is a warm water compress. This softens and removes any buildup, reducing discomfort and helping the eyes to open.

Beyond that, treatment of eye swelling depends on the underlying issue. Sometimes, pet parents need to administer eye drops or topical gels. This is where online vet help and support can truly come in handy. Not all cats are used to sitting still for eye drop treatments.

Swollen Eyes and Other Cat Medical Questions

For more information and one-on-one cat advice about swollen eyes, become a Fuzzy member today and access 24/7 Live Vet Chat. The Fuzzy Vet Team is waiting to provide answers to all sorts of cat health questions, from routine kitten care to how to give eye drops.

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