Pink eye, which is also known as conjunctivitis, is a very common illness in human beings, particularly during childhood. While most of us have memories of battling pink eye during our elementary school years, many of us are able to forget about this itchy infection once we reach adulthood.
It may therefore come as a surprise to find out that our animal friends are also susceptible to pink eye, and that includes cats! While it’s not as common in felines as it is in human beings, pink eye is very contagious and can be easily transmitted from cat to cat.
Knowing the signs of pink eye, how to treat it, and when to bring your cat to the vet are all very important parts of cat ownership. The better we understand feline conjunctivitis, the easier it will be to prevent and treat!
In this article we’ll cover the following:
Unfortunately for our feline friends, cats can absolutely catch pink eye. While it’s not a particularly pleasant infection, it is usually not serious if treated promptly and carefully.
Failure to treat pink eye can cause a host of more serious issues, including blindness. If you suspect your cat has pink eye, it’s important to treat them immediately and consult a veterinarian.
This kitten has a pretty gnarly case of pink eye. Luckily, she is getting the treatment she needs and will soon be on the mend!
Symptoms of pink eye in cats are similar to the symptoms that we human beings experience when we catch conjunctivitis, including:
Just like with human beings, conjunctivitis in cats is extremely contagious and can easily be spread from one cat to another.
Viral conjunctivitis is the most common kind. It’s usually caused by the feline herpesvirus, though it’s also caused by chlamydophila and mycoplasma. The discharge from your cat’s eyes, mouth, and nose can easily infect other cats, especially if they share a litter box and food and water dishes. If your cats groom one another, sneeze, or cough, they can also spread the virus that way.
Because pink eye is so contagious, it’s best to immediately take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
If you have more than one cat, you should isolate the sick cat in a separate room and give them their own food bowl, water bowl, and litter box. Wash all washable items the cat has touched in the hottest water possible, and don’t allow the cats to have contact with one another.
Pink eye is contagious even after the initial symptoms dissipate. If your veterinarian has given you eye drops or antibiotics to cure the pink eye, make sure to finish the medication before allowing your cats to be reunited.
Yes! Pink eye is one of those tricky viruses that is transmittable from humans to felines. The only exception is pink eye caused by the feline herpesvirus, which is specific to cats and won’t spread to human beings.
If you have pink eye (our condolences, we know it’s terrible), you should avoid touching your cat without thoroughly washing your hands first. You should also not allow your cat to sleep in bed with you or touch towels, blankets, or any other type of linen that you’ve used.
While cats often nuzzle us to show their love, it’s best to avoid too much physical contact with your cat until you’ve both recovered from the virus.
You should also avoid touching your cats face (even if you’ve just washed your hands) and make sure to wash your hands before feeding them or refilling their water bowl.
If you do end up accidentally infecting your cat, don’t feel too guilty. Pink eye is extremely contagious but it’s not particularly serious unless you allow it to get out of control.
Taking your cat to the vet promptly and getting them treatment is important, but don’t let the guilt eat away at you.
Yes, kittens are very susceptible to pink eye. If one kitten in the litter is infected with pink eye, it’s a safe bet that the other kittens will quickly become infected as well unless the sick kitten is immediately isolated from the others.
As with all illnesses, kittens are more susceptible to complications from pink eye. Their relatively weak immune systems and tendency to get into everything (which raises the risk that they will keep re-infecting themselves accidentally) make them prime targets for the virus.
While you may be tempted to try out some home remedies, it’s better not to take any risks when it comes to pink eye and young kittens. Bring your kitten to the vet immediately and follow their instructions on how to cure them.
If your kitten can’t stop scratching their eyes, you may want to invest in a kitten cone. Kittens may accidentally injure their eyes and a cone will prevent them from doing so. A small, flexible cone that is specially made for kittens is your best bet, such as the PetBaba recovery collar.
While cats don’t usually love wearing cones (as you can see from this video) they can be very helpful when your cat is undergoing treatment for pink eye!
The first thing you should do if you suspect your cat has pink eye is bring them to the vet.
Your cat’s eyes are very sensitive and delicate, so it’s best not to experiment with any home remedies. Your vet can easily diagnose pink eye and prescribe the proper medication. They can also rule out any more serious eye problems!
It is likely that your vet will prescribe eye drops or ointment to treat your cat’s pink eye. In these cases, a cat cone may be a lifesaver, as it will prevent your cat from scratching and potentially damaging their eyes. It will also help ensure they don’t rub off the medication you put in their eyes.
While traditional cones are still very popular, you may want to try an inflatable cat cone collar like the Bencmate Recovery Collar, which won’t obstruct your cat’s field of vision and is easily-adjustable.
If your cat has excessive discharge from their eyes thanks to the pink eye infection, you can use pet-safe eye wipes, such as Arava Pet Wipes, to keep their eyes and nose clear of any gunk. This will help keep your cat comfortable while they heal.
Yes, cats can catch pink eye. While it’s unpleasant, it’s not an especially dangerous virus unless it goes untreated for an extended amount of time. If you think your cat has pink eye, bring them to the vet! Prescription pink eye medication, coupled with a cone collar (such as the Bencmate Recovery Collar) will aid in healing your cat’s eyes.
What about you? Have you ever had a cat with pink eye? What did you do about it? Let us know in the comments below, as we would love to hear from you!
After moving to New York City from Rome, Italy, I began working in the nonprofit world. Despite my day job, my passion has always been animals, especially dogs and cats, and writing. What better way to combine the two? I’ve been a pet owner for 15 years, and my menagerie includes dogs, cats, hamsters and the occasional hermit crab. My beloved cat, Mozart, who I found as a newborn kitten, sparked my love for felines and is now nearly 15 years old. I am an enthusiastic volunteer at the local ASPCA, where I enjoy spending time with the cats and cleaning up after the dogs. I’ve been writing about pet ownership and care for the past five years.