Jump to section

What is Red Eye?

If you notice redness of the feline’s orbit, she might have experienced trauma to the eye, an allergy or irritant, a viral infection such as distemper, a bacterial infection, glaucoma, cherry eye or cancer. Red eye in cats could be a serious medical problem that could worsen over time, causing blindness and further destruction of the orbital structure.

Red eye in cats is a symptom of an underlying disease, ocular irritation, or injury to a feline’s eyes. A red coloration of one or both eyes is an indication that a feline is suffering from an unknown health condition that should be addressed by a licensed veterinary professional.

Red Eye Average Cost

From 355 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Red Eye in Cats

The rather obvious symptom of red eye in cats is, in fact, a red coloration of the eye. Depending on the source of the red eye condition, your feline may or may not experience the following additional associated symptoms: 

  • The whites of the eyes become reddened 
  • Swollen eyes
  • Swollen eyelids 
  • Eye discharge (clear, white, yellow or green in coloration) 
  • Tearing of the eyes
  • A protruded third eyelid (cherry eye)
  • Rubbing the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Inability to open the eye
  • Loss of sight 
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes 
  • Coughing 
  • Painful eyes
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Red Eye in Cats

A feline’s eyes can become red for a number of reasons. Trauma, allergies, obstructions, structural changes of the eye, disease, viral infections, bacterial infections, and irritants can all cause the eye of a cat to become red. The most common causes of red eye in cat include: 

Trauma

  • Scratches
  • Bites
  • Pokes
  • Allergens
  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Bee stings

Irritants

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfumes
  • Air fresheners 

Obstructions

  • Seedling
  • Grass seeds
  • Dirt 

Structural Changes

  • Entropion (eyelid protrudes inward) 
  • Ectropion (eyelid protrudes outward)
  • Distichiasis (abnormal eyelash growth)

Disease 

  • Cancer 
  • Autoimmune disease

Bacterial Infection

  • Chlamydia
  • Mycoplasma

Viral Infections

  • Feline herpesvirus type 1
  • Calicivirus
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) 
  • Feline leukemia (FeLV)
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Red Eye in Cats

It is highly important for pet owners to relay all the clinical signs and symptoms they noted at home as they bring the cat experiencing red eye to see the veterinarian. Since red eye in cats can be caused by a long list of potential causes, any information you can give the veterinarian to help create a diagnostic differential would be helpful. The doctor will begin by reviewing the cat’s medical record, playing close attention to past illnesses, medications, and vaccinations. He or she may ask to know about your cat’s living environment, including any possible allergens, irritants, or potential trauma tools in the feline’s surroundings. 

An Ophthalmic Exam

A physical exam of the eye will be the next step in the veterinarian’s diagnostic plan, as the examination will evaluate the eye and all the ocular structures. The animal doctor will likely use a tool called an ophthalmoscope, which is a light reflecting tool that will allow the vet to see the interior structures of the eye. 

Fluorescent Stain Test

An ophthalmic examination tool that uses blue light and orange-colored dye may be used to detect abnormalities within the eye. 

Schirmer Tear Test

An ophthalmic tests uses tear strips that are placed in the lower eyelid to evaluate a feline’s tear production levels. 

Tonometry

An ophthalmic test used to evaluate intraocular pressure of the eye. 

Lab Tests

The veterinarian may also collection a swab of cells or discharge from the eye for microscopic examination. The collected cells could reveal structural abnormalities or an infection from a bacteria. Blood work, a urinalysis and specialized testing for FeLV, or FIV will likely be a part of your cat’s differential diagnostic procedure. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Red Eye in Cats

The treatment of red eye in cats depends on the condition that is causing your cat’s eye to turn a reddish color. If allergies or irritants are to blame for your cat’s red eye, the doctor may advise a few simple changes at home and prescribe an antihistamine. However, if the cause of your cat’s red eye is caused by a structural abnormality, foreign obstruction, trauma or growth, a surgical procedure may need to be completed to restore your feline’s eyes to their original state. Chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy could also be a part of your cat’s treatment plan if cancer is the source of your cat’s red eyes. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Red Eye in Cats

The prognosis for red eye in cats depends on the dominant cause of the ocular reddening in your cat. Your cat may need to wear an Elizabethan collar at home to prevent scratching the eyes and causing additional damage. The veterinarian may also ask that an air humidifier be placed in the home to remove irritants that may be affecting the feline.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Red Eye Average Cost

From 355 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

arrow-up-icon

Top

Red Eye Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

Eight Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness And Infection In The Eyes

A lot of my not so kittens because they are growing have eye infections problem I’m putting drops in them and cleaning their eyes but one of them has red bloody eyes how can I cure that at home ?

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. You probably cannot cure this at home. Kittens can have very serious eye infections and viral diseases that can lead to permanent eye damage if not treated, and it would be best to have the cat seen by a veterinarian to make sure that the right eye medications are being given. I hope that all goes well for your cats.

Aug. 6, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

2 years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

My cat has had the red eye for like A month now, i gave her eyedrops but the redness wouldn’t leave.Her eye is not watery, she doesn’t scratch it or sneezes.It is red around her eye. Sometimes when she wakes up it’s not red at all and it just starts to become red as the day passes . I hope it is treatable any recommendation or thoughts ?

July 25, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, This may be due to allergies. You can try allergy eye drops that you can get at the drug store for her eyes. In the picture, her eyes look normal. Some cats do have different colored eyes but they should not be red. If this continues, it may be best for your cat to see your vet just to make sure that there is nothing wrong in the eye.

July 25, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Black

dog-breed-icon

Tux

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Irritated Eye
Watery Eye

My cats eye is watering , looks red and irritated occasionally see a tiny bit of goop but it’s open . He has a little scab above his eye . He is indoor at night outside during the day. And he is sneezing he is still eating and drinking and doesn’t seem very unusual mostly can tell that he is affected by it . He is mello but he isn’t constantly sleeping

Sept. 20, 2018

Black's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Oliver

dog-breed-icon

Orange tabby

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Red Eye
Swollen Eye

My kitty Oliver is 2 years old and I came home from work today and one of his eyes are half closed kinda squinting, it is red on his water line and red around his iris. It doesn’t seem to be bothering him he’s still drinking and eating but is it just a scratch from playing or could it be something serious, he hasn’t had any issues besides a few weeks ago he was throwing up but with a vet visit they said everything was fine and he probably ate something bad. He got an anti nausea shot and the throwing up stopped. I’m not sure if they could be correlated. But I’m a very concerned, very poor, cat mom.

Aug. 25, 2018

Oliver's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Oliver it is very difficult to say what the underlying cause is, however it is possible that there is a slight injury and you should try to flush the eye out gently with sterile saline and apply an ophthalmic antibiotic ointment. If there is no improvement over the weekend or other symptoms present you should visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 25, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Schmoo

dog-breed-icon

white cat

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Red Eyes, Severely Cloudy,

Our 12 year old cat has severely clouded and red eye. Vet originally sent home, claimed it was from a corneal abrasian and going to be "fine" . Back a few days later with severe discharge, gave oral antibiotic for a week, followed by eye drops (Ofloxacin 3%)Now, the second eye is cloudy and red. How could this be from an injury if the second eye is now affected? They want to bring in a specialist for $500 exam.

Aug. 20, 2018

Schmoo's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

It seems that a specialist might be the best idea at this point, as Schmoo isn't responding to medications that way that he is expected to. $500 sounds like a lot of money for an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist, and you may be able to locate an ophthalmologist that can at least examine Schmoo and let you know what might be going on. I hope that all goes well for Schmoo.

Aug. 20, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Disney

dog-breed-icon

Persian

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Conjunctivitis
Scleral Inflammation
Corneal Opacity

Hello. My 7 year old male cat escaped the house for a day and came back with a red blurry eye, conjunctivitis. I took him to the vet and he prescribed him an opthalmic eyedrops antibiotic with tobramycin, and an antiviral eye cream acyclovir and for the past month my cat has been unresponsive, getting slightly worse but not transferring to the other eye,which is perfectly clear and fine. At first i was applying steroid drops to help with the inflammation but the vet instructed me to stop them since steroid delays epithelial regeneration and would allow the onset of a corneal ulcer. I am very afraid he will acquire a corneal ulcer since there seems to be a translucent whitish ring visible in his cornea. He is unresponsive to antibiotic tobramycin and antiviral acyclovir and this has been going on for a month. Do eye infections take this long to heal? And what other medications should i try? Please reply asap.

dog-name-icon

Holmes

dog-breed-icon

Orange tabby

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Discharge
Dirty Ears
Red Raw Skin Under Eyes

My 12 year old cat has suffered with red watery eyes with discharge for almost 2 - 3 years. I have seen the vet several times. An anti mites shot for cows(!) seemed to brighten up his eyes a bit and we have tried various drops such as antibiotic drops, steriod drops, artificial tears and there is no improvement at all. The skin under his eyes has lost fur and is raw and bleeds. Is there anything that can be done to help him? I've noticed the inside of her ears are always dirty and I was wondering if that could be part of the problem.

dog-name-icon

Oliver

dog-breed-icon

MaineCoon

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lump On Eyeball,
Lump On Eyeball, Cant See His Eye

Omg I'm freaking out. I have been litetally sick in bed for the past week and a half. But for the last 4 days I literally slept the entire time. My Cat had an issue with his left eye I cleaned it with a cloth and it seemed to go away. its then transferred to the other eye. It has been running for probably about 4 days now And now i can't even see his eye ball there is something covering it and he has a red lump on his eyeball which I believe has only been there for a day or 2 tops. I don't understand how it got the so bad. he doesn't seem to be in a lot of pain hes still eating, still drinking, still active. What is it? and how do I treat it naturally?? Please help asap. I dont want him to loose his sight.

dog-name-icon

Winston

dog-breed-icon

domestic medium hair

dog-age-icon

4 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Red Eye
Runny Nose
Watery Eye

My cats Winston seems to have a type of cat cold. He’s sneezing, has a running nose and watery eyes. Today, I came home from work and his right eye was really red and looked like it was swollen. He doesn’t even open it. He seems to be eating and drinking water.

dog-name-icon

Pebbles

dog-breed-icon

Cat DSH

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Problems

My 12 year old cat has suffered with red watery eyes with discharge dor almost 3 years. I have seen the vet who has sent off swabs which came back normal. We have tried various drops such as antibiotic drops, steriod drops, artificial tears and there is no improvement at all. The skin under her eyes has lost fur and is raw and bleeds occasionally. Is there anything that can be done to help her? Iv noticed the inside of her ears are always dirty and i was wondering if she could be spreading the dirt into her eyes and thats causing it?

Red Eye Average Cost

From 355 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

How can we help your pet?