The eyes of a healthy cat should be clear and clean with pupils that match in size. Your cat's eyes should not be red, crusty, gummy or otherwise appear irritated. If your cat is experiencing eye problems, she needs to go to the veterinarian for a formal diagnosis and treatment. Obtaining proper veterinary treatment in a timely manner can stop more serious eye problems from developing.
Normal Eye Discharge
A small amount of eye discharge is normal. It is inevitable that small particles of dust, dirt and various environmental debris will wind up in the eye. Those small particles tend to wind up pushed into the corner of the eye or out of the eye by the eye's natural functions, resulting in a slight bit of crust or goo developing from time to time. It is also normal for a young kitten whose eyes have just opened to develop a small amount of eye discharge as they are first learning how to use their eyes.
Cleaning Your Cat's Eyes
Clean normally occurring eye debris away from your cat's eyes by dipping a cotton ball in warm water and very gently wiping the discharge away. Wipe from the inside of the eye to the outside. Be sure to use a fresh cotton ball for each eye. If the crust has built up on the eye, gently press a warm, wet washcloth or warm compress against the eye to loosen the discharge before you attempt to clean the eye. Do not rub, scrub or otherwise touch the eyeball.
Some advocate using saline solution, either store bought or made at home by mixing a cup of water with a teaspoon of salt, to clean the eyes of cats. Talk to your veterinarian before administering any solution, homemade or store bought on your cat.
It is not normal for one or both of a cat's eyes to appear to be filled with pus, swollen, watery, cloudy, red, oozing, crusty or sealed shut by any form of eye discharge. Feline eye discharge can be caused by upper respiratory infections, conjunctivitis, injuries to the cornea, eye infection, blocked tear ducts, dry eye, eye injury, allergies, problems with the third eyelid and even a foreign object that may have become stuck in the cat's eye.
Caring for Eye Problems
While cleaning the eye can help improve your cat's level of comfort, be aware that simply cleaning the eye will not correct the underlying medical problem. Call your veterinarian if you notice your cat is displaying symptoms of eye problems. Your veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics, ointments and eye drops or washes to help alleviate your cat's discomfort and remedy his eye problems. Your veterinarian will show you how to clean your cat's eyes and administer any medications.
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Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.