"An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language." - Martin Buber
Cat people often claim to know what's on their furry companion's mind simply by looking at his eyes. Indeed, studies have found that a cat's emotional state "is reflected in outward, physiological changes in pupil size and eyelid position." For example, cat people mention the "cat kiss," which is when your cat stares at you and slowly blinks his eyes, similar to how we gently caress their fur to show affection. On the other end of the spectrum are constricted pupils. If your kitty's eyes are wide open with tiny pupils, he is angry and may attack anything he perceives as a threat, maybe even you!
A cat's eyes can also reveal a variety of medical issues. Here are a few that may require veterinarian attention.
Pink Eye (conjunctivitis)
Not just for humans, your cat can also get "pink eye." In felines, it manifests itself with a pink tint on the tissue surrounding the eyeball, a gooey discharge, swelling, and pain. If you notice any of these with your cat, make a vet appointment immediately. The leading causes of pink eye in cats are bacterial infections, viruses, or allergens. There are various treatments for all three, but it's essential to seek help sooner than later.
There are many ways your cat can damage the cornea of his eyes. For example, he could accidentally scratch his eye while grooming. Dirt, debris, or even a tiny bug could be a culprit. Or his eyes could get irritated during rowdiness with another animal.
Signs of a corneal injury include redness, tearing, or blood in the eye. In addition, if your cat is squinting, pawing at his face, or blinking more than usual, he may have damaged his cornea, and it's time for a vet appointment.
Eye Inflammation (Uveitis)
Scientifically known as "uveitis" because the uvea - the colored part of the eye containing blood vessels - becomes inflamed. Signs of uveitis include a change in pupil size, redness, increased tearing, and general cloudiness of the eye.
The inflammation is caused by trauma to the eye, a bacterial infection, Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), parasites, or cancer. Uveitis is a painful situation and can compromise your kitty's vision if left alone. Treatment will vary with the cause.
This is not just an older human's problem. Cats get glaucoma for the same reason people do; the fluid in the eyeball doesn't drain normally and creates excess pressure. Signs of glaucoma in cats can range from excessive tearing and dilated pupils to redness and cloudiness. Untreated, severe cases can cause the eye to bulge. Eye drops to reduce the fluid production and increase drainage will be tried first. Surgery may be necessary for patients resistant to medications.
While there are many reasons cats get cataracts, including heredity or breed, older kitties or those with diabetes or high blood pressure are more prone to this issue. This condition occurs when the eye's lens turns from transparent to white and cloudy. Do not delay in seeking treatment as cataracts can degrade vision, even to the point of blindness.
How to prevent issues
It's a given you should check on your cat's eyes every day. You'll pick up even minor changes and potentially avoid situations that cause your cat discomfort. If you notice any discharges around their eyes, you can use damp makeup pads to dab them away. If any of the symptoms discussed here appear or come and go, it's a good time to call your veterinarian. Regarding the pet vet, keep your feline's regular wellness exams up to date so they can find and address eye issues early.
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