Cats are born hunters and usually have wide-open, watchful eyes. The only exception to this rule is when your cat is snoozing. If a cat keeps one eye closed constantly, it indicates something is causing him discomfort.
A cat may keep one eye closed due to a temporary irritation. If your cat keeps its eye closed, it may have an infection. A red, itchy eye indicates conjunctivitis. If your cat’s eye is swollen, it may have glaucoma. Also, look at your cat’s iris; it could also have an ulcer or cataracts.
Cats have very expressive eyes. A happy, healthy cat will have the same-sized eyes.
A cat with an eye problem will scratch and rub its eye regularly. As a result, you will notice redness around the eye.
My Cat Can’t Open One Eye Properly
If a cat can’t open one eye properly or blinks constantly, it may be due to the following causes:
- Eye infections
- Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva)
- Glaucoma (cataract)
- Corneal ulcers
- Eyelid rim inflammation (blepharitis)
- Foreign body in the eye
In addition to the eyelid, look closer at your cat’s pupils. Unequal pupils indicate a problem called anisocoria.
Also, look for discoloration of the iris. This is often due to melanosis.
Melanosis occurs most often in older cats and is usually harmless. It is manifested by brown spots that resemble liver spots.
Types of Eye Infections in Cats
Eye infections in cats are usually bacterial in origin. In many cases, they are treated with prescription medications.
The following signs indicate an eye infection in your cat:
- Redness in and around the eye
- Excessive tear production
- Constant blinking or squinting
- Protrusion of the eyeball.
Most eye infections can be treated with prescription antibacterial eye drops.
However, never use eye drops that are intended for humans.
The prognosis for using eye drops is good. Most cats recover entirely within a short time.
However, do not let the infection get out of hand, as this will only worsen the problem. Therefore, see your veterinarian promptly.
Your cat’s eye becomes inflamed, red, and swollen. This is painful, so your cat will rub and scratch her eye.
Conjunctivitis can also affect both eyes at the same time. The cause may be an allergy, or another cat may have infected your cat.
Conjunctivitis in cats is treated with anti-inflammatory eye drops. Most cats recover entirely within two days of treatment.
Glaucoma or glaucoma can occur if an eye infection is not treated in a cat.
The cat needs to drain fluid through its tear ducts. If your cat is unable to do this, pressure builds up.
This causes your cat to be in pain and unable to open its eyes.
Glaucoma should be treated at the first sign of symptoms. If glaucoma is left untreated, the cat may even lose an eye.
Signs of this condition include:
- Visible swelling of the eye.
- Scratching and rubbing of the eye
- Enlargement of the pupils
- Thin, watery discharge
- Cloudy, discolored iris.
Science has found that uveitis, a form of inflammation, is the most common cause of glaucoma in cats.
Glaucoma cannot be cured or reversed. You must treat the condition for the life of your cat.
Steroidal eye drops achieve this. Timolol and dorzolamide reduce swelling and relieve pain.
Ulcers can form on the cornea in cats. These occur when layers of the cornea are broken down.
Common symptoms of corneal ulcers are:
- Excessive discharge from the eye.
- A transparent film over the eye
- Sensitivity to light causes the cat to close one eye in a bright room
Ulcers can be caused by trauma or infection. Treatment begins with antibiotic eye drops and pain management.
If the ulcer is deep, it may need to be surgically removed. If the ulcer is on the surface, a veterinarian can remove it with a swab.
Cataracts occur in older cats as a natural part of the aging process.
A cataract looks like a cloudy blockage in a cat’s eye.
Cataracts prevent light from reaching the retina. This reduces the cat’s vision, eventually leading to blindness.
Your cat can survive with cataracts. She will use her other senses to perceive her surroundings. However, cataracts can also be surgically removed.
Lid Rim Inflammation (Blepharitis)
Blepharitis is the scientific name for chronic inflammation of the eyelid. The problem starts with irritation, which can come from a trapped foreign body or an insect bite.
Your cat’s eyelid becomes dry and scaly and may begin to ooze pus.
In addition, the cat’s eyelid becomes very swollen. This causes the cat to be unable to open its eyes.
Blepharitis is usually treated at home. Soak a cotton ball in warm water and hold it on the cat’s eye for 15 minutes.
If you repeat this daily, the swelling will go down.
However, you may still need to treat the cause of your cat’s blepharitis.
Your cat may have developed an eye infection from the initial irritation. In this case, antibiotic eye drops are usually required.
Foreign Bodies in the Eye
Since cats do not blink often, foreign bodies in the eye are not uncommon. The following signs indicate that a cat has a foreign body in the eye:
- Rubbing paws on the eye
- Rubbing the face on the floor
- Excessive tear production
The most common objects that may be caught in a cat’s eye include:
- Small stones
- Dust and grit
- Ingrown hair or fur
If your cat has a foreign body in his eye, remove it by rinsing it. It is best to combine warm water and saline solution to do this.
Never try to remove the foreign body with tweezers. Cats are anxious when it comes to their eyes. Your cat will most likely fidget, which can lead to injury.
Harmful environmental factors can also irritate a cat’s eye. Dust, air fresheners, and cigarette smoke can cause a reaction. Wash your cat’s eye as before; the irritation should subside quickly.
My Cat’s Eyes Are Red Around the Edges
Red-rimmed eyes in cats are not expected. Your cat may have suffered minor eye trauma, such as a puncture to the eye.
Perhaps your cat walked into a branch or scratched itself while grooming.
If it is a minor trauma, it will resolve itself relatively quickly. Your cat will otherwise act normal and blink a little more. Within 1-2 hours, the redness will subside.
If it does not, your cat probably has an eye infection or conjunctivitis. Redness of the eye is the first warning sign.
My Cat Blinks One Eye More Than the Other
Cats blink, but they rarely do. You may even never notice that your cat blinks.
That, in itself, is not a cause for concern. However, you might notice that your cat blinks one eye. This could be because your cat:
- Expresses affection
- Has a foreign body in his eye
Slow blinking is a sign of affection. However, if your cat blinks rapidly in one eye, he probably has an irritation, and blinking is an attempt to remove it.
Why is My Cat Sleeping With One Eye Open?
As naturally cautious animals, cats feel vulnerable when they sleep. Therefore, your cat may appear to sleep with one eye open.
However, this is not the case. Cats have a transparent third eyelid called the nictitating membrane. It is in the corner of your cat’s eye and lies below the conjunctiva.
This eyelid closes when your cat is sleeping. This allows your cat to snooze while remaining alert for potential danger. If your cat senses movement, it can react quickly.
However, the eyelids of a sleeping cat can also twitch. This means that she is in REM sleep.
Can I Prevent Eye Problems in Cats?
It is not always possible to prevent the development of eye problems in a cat. Sometimes, these problems are genetic or develop with age and lifestyle.
Keeping a cat indoors can reduce the risk to the eyes. Your cat will not encounter other pets and will avoid conflicts.
Since there is no fighting, the risk of infection or eye trauma is much lower.
You should take your cat to the veterinarian for an annual eye exam to catch any problems early.
Cat Breeds That Are Prone to Eye Problems
Your cat’s breed can contribute to eye problems. Brachycephalic cats with short heads are generally more prone to eye problems.
These breeds include:
- British Shorthair
- Exotic Shorthair
- Scottish Fold
- Selkirk Rex
Brachycephalic cats have a unique skull shape. They have shorter, rounder heads. Foreign bodies can easily get caught in their skin folds.
Also, tears cannot drain as quickly from the eyes of these cats, causing the eyes to dry out and become inflamed.