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 shedding 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.
Symptoms of Eye Infection in Newborn in Cats
Luckily there are a few easily seen symptoms that will let you know that your newborn cat 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
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 cats are commonly seen in cats rescued from, or kept in, dirty environments, though it is not unheard of in cats that are properly housed and cared for. Two common causes of eye infections in newborn cats 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 cat 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 cat will suffer permanent eye damage if the infection is not treated properly.
The veterinarian will start with a complete physical exam of the newborn cat, 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 newborn cat. The veterinarian may want to test a sample of the mother’s vaginal discharge to determine if the eye infection was passed from the mother to the kitten during birth.
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 newborn cat’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 be prescribed by the veterinarian, to be put directly in the infected eye for one to two weeks.
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 newborn cat should be kept away from the mother, or the rest of the litter. The infection ordinarily will go away within one to two weeks with proper care.
Keep an eye out for signs of a more serious illness developing in the newborn cat. Signs of a more serious infection can include; diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, and lack of appetite. If you see any of these symptoms, see your veterinarian immediately.