She's a good cat.
February 18, 2011 1:41 PM   Subscribe

My cat's left eye is weepy and shutting. Her inner eyelid looks like it might be infected. What can I do for her?

So I got adopted by a stray a few months ago. She's sweet and well-behaved and otherwise seems healthy. Here is a picture of my housemate holding her eye open so you can sort of see the inner eyelid. I don't know what search terms to use or sites to check. I'm about to head out to work, so I can't have the time to take her to the vet unless it is an emergency. Any idea what the vet might say? Are the odds in favor of this getting better on its own?

Thanks for your advice!
posted by aniola to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It doesn't show up all that well in the picture, but basically instead of having a uniform black ring around the edge of her second eyelid, she has a blob-shaped area for part of it.
posted by aniola at 1:43 PM on February 18, 2011

It will probably not get better on its own, but you can probably skip the emergency vet and schedule an appt for next week. How long has this been going on?
posted by cyndigo at 1:46 PM on February 18, 2011

A couple days ago I looked at her and tried to figure out if I could tell a difference between the two eyes, and decided that I might be imagining things, but today it's obvious.
posted by aniola at 1:49 PM on February 18, 2011

I googled for cat nictitating membrane, and got this:

and this:

Apparently, the nictitating membrane being visible is itself a sign of ill health.

Please don't use human antibiotics on her; some are safe for cats, some are not (the cat, an obligate carnivore, has a liver less able to break down toxins than that of omnivorous humans).
posted by orthogonality at 1:50 PM on February 18, 2011

Vet ASAP. These things can lead to a loss of vision within hours.
posted by juniper at 1:55 PM on February 18, 2011

I wash cat's eyes gently, with a wet cloth, and then put polysporin/neosporin into the eye by gently pulling the lower eyelid down and putting a blob inside the eyelid with clean fingers (recommended by a vet a long time ago). That's not to say you shouldn't go to the vet - this case sounds like it might be problematic if it involves the membrane - but you can make her a little more comfortable until you get there.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2011

Probably wouldn't hurt to call your vet, maybe email a pic, and see what they say?
posted by cyndigo at 2:02 PM on February 18, 2011

Your cat likely has an eye infection, probably caused by a type of chlamydia (not the type humans get). A vet visit will sort it out (there's an ointment that's really effective) and it's not an emergency, so take her along in the next couple of days. If it gets worse, like the eye becomes really red or there's blood or something, then it might switch to an emergency. But one of my cats used to get this pretty often and it was never a big deal. It doesn't go away on it's own either though, so definitely plan to take her in.

We did also have a cat with occasional weepy eyes from a chronic low level calicivirus infection, which is apparently not uncommon in rescue cats. But the nictitating membrane never got inflamed in that case. I also had a cat with allergies who used to get slight conjunctivitis which looked similar to the chlamydia infection, but the nictitating membrane was less swollen plus it was diagnosed by the vet over a couple of visits. In both those cases it was fine to leave the cat unless their eye got obviously sore because there wasn't much to do about it, but only after the initial vet visits to make sure what we were dealing with. So there are other possibilities that your vet might fine, but the infection is most likely. Which is good because it's cheap and easy to fix.
posted by shelleycat at 2:05 PM on February 18, 2011

A lot of small animal vets have Saturday hours.
posted by galadriel at 2:09 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am not a vet but I have cats. Her eye looks like my cat's eye when it was infected. I won't say what it was because the chances of me being right are pretty close to nil (see: I am not a vet). But, yeah, the second eyelid definitely looks infected. I'd get it taken care of sooner rather than later but I don't think I would go the emergency vet route, UNLESS she's not eating or drinking or using the litterbox normally. Check for a regular vet with Saturday hours and if you can't get her seen, or if you choose not to go the ER vet option, just keep an eye on her (no pun intended!) and make sure she's acting fine otherwise.
posted by cooker girl at 2:17 PM on February 18, 2011

The same thing just happened to my cat. The vet gave us eye drops and the infection cleared right up.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:18 PM on February 18, 2011

"Your cat likely has an eye infection, probably caused by a type of chlamydia (not the type humans get)."

My cat had that! And he only has the one eye! It was such a not-big deal once we got it treated and I don't actually even remember what kind of medicine we gave, just that there was medicine. If that's what it is, our vet always wanted us to be pretty proactive about it, since our cat only had the one eye, but didn't think it was a very big deal or worth getting wound up over. We had a couple recurrences, usually the vet booked us for the next morning. If your cat has two eyes, they'll probably worry less.

Anyway, if it's still business hours for your vet, I'd call over, describe, and get their recommendation, explaining that you're at work/going to work and CAN go to the ER vet but would prefer not to leave work if you don't have to.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:29 PM on February 18, 2011

The banfield vet at many petsmarts have evening hours. Take her to a vet asap.
posted by saragoodman3 at 2:35 PM on February 18, 2011

Thanks y'all. I decided to schedule an appointment for her for tomorrow morning; luckily they had something open.
posted by aniola at 2:40 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just chiming in that from what I can tell from the picture, that looks something like what happens to my cat when stress causes her feline herpes to flare up. Vet tomorrow sounds like a good plan.

Just FYI so you can plan ahead if that's what it is, you're looking at a short-term course of eyedrops. Long-term, probably lysine supplements (they make them in gels or powders if that's easier than pills), and possibly long-term eyedrops but that may not be necessary if she responds well to the short-term treatment and preventative lysine.

If that's what it is, it's very manageable. Pixel's never has entirely gone away, but she got 95% better with treatment and is very healthy now. She'd probably clear up entirely if only she weren't always being picked on by the other two cats, and thus her stress never really goes away.
posted by Stacey at 2:48 PM on February 18, 2011

I am glad to see you are headed to the vet in the morning; juniper is correct in stating an eye infection can result in blindness far more quickly that is commonly thought. Sometimes the only sign of infection will be some redness of the white of the eye (not often seen) before blindness ensues. Anyone reading this in the future, please don't delay in getting your pet to the vet ASAP if something appears wrong with the eyes.

I hope your sweet cat's eyes heal quickly and well.
posted by vers at 4:46 PM on February 18, 2011

What might help for the meantime is to take a clean washcloth and soak it in very warm water. Squeeze it out and make sure it's not too hot but use it as a warm compress on your kitty's eye. Do this for as long and as often your kitty will tolerate it. I've had two cats for whom I've run the gamut on health and injury issues. Eye infections, irritations, etc. were all treated with medication (prescribed if necessary by a vet) and the warm compress. It helps promote healing and soothes the area.

Wishing your cat a quick recovery. Kisses!!
posted by loquat at 4:53 PM on February 18, 2011

put polysporin/neosporin into the eye

ditto, when my cat had something similar going on that was what the vet advised us to do. We did this and repeated application 2x daily for two days, then the cat was totally fine (though with plenty of gummy gunk from the repeated polysporins)
posted by arnicae at 8:25 PM on February 18, 2011

My cat gets a swollen and runny eye during the spring and fall, and what clears it right up is soaking a washcloth in cool water, and holding it like a compress over her eye for 5 minutes or so, a couple of times a day.
posted by sarcasticah at 9:35 PM on February 18, 2011

So! I went to the vet. They flushed her eye out, and say it's probably just a viral infection that should clear up on its own in a week or two. Thanks for the advice, y'all.
posted by aniola at 12:42 PM on February 19, 2011

They checked her for general health, asked whether she had been sneezing or coughing, determined that her eye hadn't been scratched, showed me where her third eyelid was irritated and red, and explained that the dark patch on her third eyelid is because she is a calico.
posted by aniola at 12:46 PM on February 19, 2011

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