Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is the most common illness that cats experience. It is highly likely that your cat will develop pink eye at some point in their life, and certain cats are more susceptible to it and may experience multiple occurrences. However, is it possible for cats to contract pink eye from humans?
Cats cannot contract pink eye from humans. This is because viral pink eye, which is the most common contagious form of pink eye, is not caused by any viruses that can be transmitted between humans and cats. Although there are viruses that can cause pink eye in both humans and cats, they do not spread between the two species.
Naturally, because cat owners spend a bunch of time with their cats, it’s natural to question whether your cat got pink eye from you or someone else in your family. It’s even simpler to assume transmission if you develop pink eye at the same time.
It’s not surprising that pink eye is a complicated topic because it’s so common. Before we go into the specifics, it’s important to note that if a cat has pink eye, it should always be treated by a qualified veterinarian. Even if the case seems mild, it can worsen quickly if left untreated, and severe infections can cause permanent damage.
How Do Cats Get Pink Eye
There isn’t a single reason why cats get pink eye that we can identify. Pink eye is simply a term used to describe a common set of symptoms that can be caused by a wide variety of factors.
When it comes to cats, the main reasons for pink eye are viral or bacterial infections. However, it’s important to note that there can be multiple pathogens responsible for causing pink eye, which makes treating it a bit more challenging.
For example, viral pink eye cannot be cured with antibacterial drops that are needed to treat bacterial pink eye.
Viral Causes of Feline Pink Eye
The herpes virus is the main viral cause of pink eye in cats. There are various types of herpes viruses that can affect different species, but they do not pose a threat to humans. While it is difficult to determine with certainty, it is likely that the herpes virus is the most common cause of pink eye in cats.
We can be certain that the majority of cats are exposed to the herpes virus at a young age, particularly if they are raised in a busy cattery, live in an animal shelter, or are part of a crowded feral cat den.
One reason for this is that the herpes virus, which can cause pink eye in cats, is very contagious and can also infect other animals like birds and guinea pigs, making it easy to spread.
Bacterial Feline Pink Eye
Certainly, bacteria can also be a frequent reason for pink eye. Normally, bacterial infections are accompanied by an upper respiratory infection that should also be addressed to ensure your cat’s optimal health.
Most cases of bacterial pink eye in cats are likely caused by Feline Chlamydophila, but not all cases are.
Other Causes of Feline Pink Eye
Cats can also get pink eye without having a contagious infection. Some cats can develop pink eye due to irritation from dust, pollen, various allergens, and any other substances that irritate their eyes. This is why almost all cats will experience pink eye at least once, even if they never come into contact with an infected animal.
Other things such as cigarette smoke, smoke from wildfires, pollution in your area, strong-smelling cologne and perfume, and even cleaning products used in your home can also irritate your eyes and lead to pink eye.
|Symptoms Of Pink Eye In Cats
|Watery Eye (or Eyes)
|Most cats will have watery eyes from time to time, but constant watery eyes can be a sign of something wrong.
|Watery eyes may not need treatment, or your vet may give you medicated drops to handle the symptom and some underlying causes.
|Excessive Tear Production
|If your cat’s eyes are watering enough that they are constantly tearing, chances are something has irritated the eye.
|Excessive tear production is another symptom that will likely be treated with medicated drops. However, you will also want to help your cat keep their face clean and dry, especially around their eyes.
|Swollen or Blocked Tear Ducts
|Swelling around your cat’s eyes can be a sign of a blocked or irritated tear duct, a common sign of pink eye.
|Lacrimal duct obstructions have a wide range of treatments in cats, including everything between flushing the eye through to surgically removing the obstruction.
|Pink or ‘Meaty’ Tissue surrounding the eye
|This is where pink eye gets its name, in addition to bloodshot sclera. If the tissue around your cats’ eyes looks swollen or redder/pinker than normal, it’s likely pink eye.
|Likely this will be treated with antibiotic eye drops several times a day. Your vet may also prescribe oral medication either for antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, or both
|Swollen Eye Lids
|Sometimes eyelids will swell without noticeable color changes, but this symptom is still cause for concern.
|Swollen eyelids may not need treatment, may be treated with eye drops, or your vet might recommend a cold compress.
|Even early in a pink eye infection, it’s common for cats to start blinking excessively.
|Excessive blinking may not need treatment depending on the cause or may require dry eye drops or other kinds of eye drop treatments.
|Pawing at or Itching Eyes
|Pawing or itching at their eyes is a good sign that the eye is irritated and bothering them, and can be a sign that their eyes hurt.
|Your vet may recommend a head cone in addition to other pink eye treatments to help prevent your cat from damaging their eyes accidentally.
|Coughing, Sneezing, or Runny Nose
|Coughing, sneezing, and a wet nose are all pretty good signs of pink eye or an upper respiratory infection… or both.
|Likely if your cat is coughing, sneezing, or has a runny nose they will need treatment for an upper respiratory infection, which can include antibiotics, an inhaler treatment, or other interventions depending on the severity of the infection.
Is Pink Eye Contagious In Cats
Not all types of pink eye are highly contagious in cats, but some are. For example, bacterial pink eye can spread from one cat to another if they come into contact with an infected cat or the source of the bacteria.
However, cats can easily spread Viral pink eye to each other through close contact and interaction.
On the other hand, different types of pink eye, such as non-contagious environmental pink eye, may not spread from person to person.
Not all cats have an equal chance of getting pink eye even if they are exposed to the same risk factors. Purebred cats are more likely to get pink eye compared to others, and sometimes they can get it even without any obvious environmental risks.
What Does Pink Eye In A Cat Look Like
Pink eye infections typically affect the white part of the eye and the surrounding tissue, causing a slight inflammation or redness. However, the severity of redness, swelling, and your cat’s reaction to pink eye can vary greatly among cats.
Typically, if a cat has pink eye, their eye will appear slightly pink, they may squint a bit in that eye, and it might be more watery than usual. If your cat is pawing at their eye, especially while squinting, it could be an early indication of pink eye.
If your cat has a severe case of pink eye, their eyes may appear extremely red, and they may have difficulty opening their eyes, paw at or shield their eyes, and experience excessive tearing.
How Long Does Pink Eye Last In Cats
Usually, pink eye goes away on its own after around 5-14 days of experiencing symptoms, but this is not always the case. For example, cats with weakened immune systems may struggle to fight off a pink eye infection, resulting in a longer duration of the infection.
If you’re not sure what’s causing the problem, environmental pink eye in cats can take longer to go away. For example, some cats get pink eye because of allergies during certain seasons, so you need to treat the allergy in order to effectively treat the pink eye.
Regrettably, if a cat has contracted pink eye and recovered, it does not provide sufficient defense against future instances of pink eye due to the numerous potential causes.
Can Pink Eye In Cats Go Away On Its Own
Yes, but it’s not a good idea to wait and see if your cat’s pink eye will go away on its own. Usually, a cat’s immune system can handle pink eye unless they have a weakened immune system. However, this doesn’t mean that the infection won’t harm their eye or the tissue around it before it gets better.
How Do You Treat Pink Eye In Cats
Cats can be treated for pink eye in various ways, such as using antibiotics for bacterial infections or addressing discomfort caused by viral infections. If your cat has pink eye due to allergies, your vet may suggest avoiding allergens, using an air filter, or giving your cat allergy medication to reduce the chances of getting pink eye.
When taking care of your cat at home, it is important to keep an eye on their symptoms, administer eye drops, and ensure they don’t excessively touch their eyes to avoid any harm.
Things To Consider
It’s normal for cats to experience pink eye at some point in their lives, so don’t worry if your cat gets it. If your cat can go a few years without any eye infections or issues, then you’re probably doing a great job of keeping their environment healthy.
Siamese cats, especially purebred ones, are much more likely to get pink eye compared to other cats. Sometimes, purebred cats can develop pink eye even without any viral or bacterial infection or exposure to allergens.
Cats that are purebred are also more prone to developing pink eye caused by allergens and may experience viral and bacterial pink eye more frequently compared to other cats. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a purebred cat will definitely get pink eye at some point, but it’s important to be ready in case your cat does develop pink eye.
There may be times when your vet suggests having eyedrops on hand for your cat. Some cats might find it helpful to flush their eyes regularly, even if they don’t have any obvious things in their environment that could cause pink eye.
It’s crucial to understand that your cat should be kept away from other cats and certain other pets when they have pink eye. Pink eye can easily spread among cats, so if a cat is exposed, it’s likely to get pink eye too.
If you can, it’s best not to keep multiple cats with pink eye together because it can make the infection come back and spread more easily.
It’s crucial to keep your cat away from mice (like rabbits), ferrets, and any birds in your house because certain common causes of pink eye in cats can be passed on to those animals.
It’s important to have your cat checked out as soon as possible if they have pink eye, as it can usually be easily treated with prompt medical care.
If pink eye in cats is not treated promptly, it can lead to various issues such as increased eye pressure, impaired vision, and damage to the tear duct and other eye structures.
It’s crucial to understand that getting pink eye again is very common. Your cat may appear to get better for a few weeks, but then they could get pink eye again.
If your cat experiences pink eye, it is advisable to contact your veterinarian. Depending on your cat’s medical background, the vet may request an appointment to examine your cat or recommend repeating the same treatment without requiring an appointment.