Eye Infection in Newborn in Cats

Written By Darlene Stott
Published: 09/25/2016Updated: 12/14/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Michele K.
Eye Infection in Newborn in Cats - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Eye Infection in Newborn?

Eye infection in newborn cats is also called ophthalmia neonatorum. An eye infection in a newborn cat is an infection of the thin layer that lines the eye called the conjunctiva, or even of the cornea, which is the thin membrane that makes up the surface of the eye.

Red, irritated eyes with cloudy, yellow or green discharge could be signs of an eye infection in newborn kittens. You may see the upper and lower eyelids become stuck together and even swell outward. Both of the cat's eyes may be infected.

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Eye Infection in Newborn Average Cost

From 341 quotes ranging from $200 - $300

Average Cost

$250

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Symptoms of Eye Infection in Newborn in Cats

Luckily there are a few easily seen signs that will let you know that your newborn kitten is suffering from an eye infection, so you can do everything necessary to make your kitten healthy again.

  • The kitten’s eyelids are stuck to the eye itself
  • A pus-like discharge is seeping from the eye
  • Dry hard discharge that can stick both eyelids together
  • Both eyelids bulge outward

Types

Eye infections in newborn cats are commonly caused by bacteria or a virus present in their environment or passed between cats, such as:

  • Feline herpesvirus (FHV)
  • Staphylococcus bacteria
  • Streptococcus bacteria

Causes of Eye Infection in Newborn in Cats

Eye infections in newborn kittens are commonly seen in cats rescued from, or kept in, dirty or crowded environments, though it is not unheard of in cats that are properly housed and cared for. Two common causes of eye infections in newborn kittens include:

  • An unclean resting area
  • A vaginal infection in the mother cat

Diagnosis of Eye Infection in Newborn in Cats

If visual observation of the newborn kitten shows the usual signs of an eye infection, redness, swelling, discharge, and an inability to open the eye fully, you should arrange to have the animal seen by a veterinarian right away. There is a chance that the kitten will suffer permanent eye damage if the infection is not treated properly.

The veterinarian will start with a complete physical exam of the newborn kitten, and you will be asked to provide a full medical history of the pregnancy and birth. You will also be asked to provide a medical history of the mother of the kitten. 

In order to rule out other causes for the eye infection, the veterinarian could order a blood test that includes a complete blood count and a chemical blood profile. The veterinarian might also take a urine sample for analysis. Your veterinarian, to rule out actual damage to the eye, may stain the kitten's eye with a chemical dye called fluorescein. This chemical will make any scratches or foreign substances easily visible upon examination with a blue light.

Treatment of Eye Infection in Newborn in Cats

Your veterinarian will usually begin treatment by carefully separating the newborn cat’s eyelids. Once the eye is opened the veterinarian will wash out pus and mucus. The veterinarian may take a sample of this material for further testing. 

A topical antibiotic ointment will likely be prescribed by the veterinarian, to be put directly in the infected eye for one to two weeks.

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Recovery of Eye Infection in Newborn in Cats

Use warm, wet towels to keep the eyelids from sticking together. Apply antibiotic ointment regularly as prescribed by your veterinarian, for the length of time he instructs you. 

Eye infections can be highly contagious. Keep the area where the mother and litter sleep clean and ask your veterinarian if the kitten should be kept away from the mother, or the rest of the litter. The infection will typically resolve within one to two weeks with proper care.

Watch for signs of a more serious illness developing in the kitten. Signs of a more serious infection can include; diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, and lack of appetite. If you see any of these signs, see your veterinarian immediately.

Eye infections in newborn cats can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

Eye Infection in Newborn Average Cost

From 341 quotes ranging from $200 - $300

Average Cost

$250

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Eye Infection in Newborn Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Siamese

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7days

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23 found this helpful

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23 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Swollen Eye
5 newborn kittens of mine have swollen eyes

Sept. 28, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

23 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Kittens can get severe infections of the eyes, and if untreated these infections can cause long term eye damage. It wold be best to have the kittens seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine the kittens and get the right therapy for them.

Oct. 7, 2020

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Short hair

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2 weeks

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0 found this helpful

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0 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Left Eye Matted Shut
Kitten had both eyes open and doing well, Queen moved kittens from spare room to my bedroom, sometime during he work, when came home and finally found mother and babies one kitten had left eye matted shut again, left it alone for a couple days to see if Queen would take care of the eye and if it was just from first opening it and it adjusting to new sight. But when I started warm water washing the eye greenish pus started draining in copious amounts and continuously is matted shut again after a few hours. Is it safe for me to start applying tobraDex ointment to eye?

Sept. 26, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . Tobradex ointment would not be a good idea, as the steroid ointment in that may cause damage. I hope that the kitten is feeling better, but if not, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 17, 2020

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Eye Infection in Newborn Average Cost

From 341 quotes ranging from $200 - $300

Average Cost

$250

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