Corneal Ulceration in Cats

Corneal Ulceration in Cats

Health & Safety

As any cat owner knows, their feline friend is always on the prowl when they are awake that is. Cats love to hunt and will spend hours chasing their tails and anything else that moves. If the wind picks a leaf up in your garden, the chances are your cat will chase it – which is all part of their natural instinct. However, these hunting expeditions often take cats through shrubs and bushes, over walls and across fields. It's when your cat is sneaking through the undergrowth that they could injure the corneas of their eyes – but why is it that corneas are so prone to injury and not the rest of a cats' eyes?

Why the Cornea Gets Injured

The cornea is the outermost layer of a cats' eye which is why it is so prone to injury, more so in fact than the rest of the eye. However, there are many other reasons apart from a scratch that can cause the injury, and these are listed below:

  • A scratch – from another cat, a bush or anything else
  • Ingrown eyelashes can cause the problem
  • A foreign body in the eye may cause the injury
  • Chemicals if they get in your cats' eyes can cause a lot of damage to the cornea
  • Heat and smoke can injure your cats' corneas
  • Viruses can also be to blame
  • Bacteria in the eye can damage the cornea
  • A decrease in tear production could be responsible for the damage

Corneal Ulceration Explained

All of the above can be the cause of corneal ulceration in a cats' eyes. Some breeds namely the Himalayan, Burmese or Persian, are more at risk to this type of injury simply because they have flat faces or pronounced eyes. However, the condition becomes chronic more frequently in older cats.

Symptoms To Watch Out For

The condition is very painful and causes a cat to paw at their eye making it very much worse. Signs to look out for include the following:

  • An increase in tear production
  • A coloured discharge from the affected eye
  • Cloudiness in the affected eye
  • Redness of the affected eye
  • Your cat may start squinting through the affected eye

Getting the Problem Diagnosed and Treated

As previously mentioned, this is a very painful condition that makes life absolutely miserable for a cat. If left untreated, a corneal ulcer can lead to blindness which is why it is so important to have your vet look at your furry friends' eye as soon as you notice there could be a problem. The vet will be able to determine whether or not there is an ulcer forming on the eye. The examination usually involves the following:

  • Vets will apply a special fluorescent fluid in your cats' eye and when this is lit up with a special light, it will show up any ulceration on the eye if present
  • Vets have a special test that measure tear production
  • There are tests on discharge from the eye which identifies if the problem is bacterial or viral

Once a vet has determined whether the eye is ulcerated or not, they will then recommend certain treatments which could include the following:

  • Antibiotic eye ointment or eye drops that will treat or prevent infection
  • Pain relief for the affected eye
  • A collar that prevents the cat from rubbing or scratching the eye further
  • Treatment for any underlying causes if necessary

One thing you must do is complete any course of antibiotic ointment and any other medication your vet prescribes for your cat as this is crucial for complete recovery when treating corneal ulceration.

Can the Condition be Prevented?

Unfortunately because cats will be cats and with so many different ways of them damaging their corneas, there isn't really any way of preventing the injury from happening. However, with this said it is always a good idea to check your feline friends eyes from time to time. If you ever notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, then you should get your cat to the vets at the earliest opportunity so a full examination can be carried out. The earlier the treatment commences, the less chance of your cat having to suffer all the discomfort that comes with the condition.

Chronic Corneal Ulceration in Older Cats

As you cat gets older, they do tend to be more prone to the condition which can become chronic. You should seek veterinary advice on how to treat your cat which may require the use of a long term ointment being applied to the affected eye. As long as the eye is treated with the correct medication, you will be able to keep on top of it, which basically means learning to live and manage the problem. The thing to watch out for is whether or not the condition spreads to your cats' other eye and then make sure you regularly take them along to see your vet so that the condition can be monitored and treated correctly.


The welfare of our pets is all important and making sure they are comfortable, well fed and in a nice safe environment is all part of the responsibility people take on when they have a pet. However, it's really hard to keep a cat from going out on the prowl – and it's impossible to know exactly where they go and what they get up to when they're in the great outdoors. This is why it's always a good idea to check them over from time to time. If you notice any inflammation or redness as well as irritation in your cats' eyes, then you should get them to the vets as soon as you can to identify just what the problem is. Treating an eye injury early means less discomfort for your furry little friend – and after all a content, healthy pussy cat means a happy, content owner.



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