Eye injuries can happen to all cats at some point. Some get injured by a rogue substance, like dirt, getting in their eye. Others may run into something that scratches the eye’s surface or goes even deeper. But in multi-cat households, eye injuries are much more common.
When cats play or fight, legs and claws can go a little wild, meaning the chances of an eye injury are much higher than they would be with a single cat. Because of this risk, pet owners should keep a watchful eye on their furry friends to catch injuries early and get them treated before they get worse.
Cat scratches can do damage
Having multiple cats in a single household can come with the occasional spat or friendly wrestling match. Whether cats are playing or fighting, they might bite or scratch at one another, and this means that the claws might come out.
During fights, especially, cats have a tendency to scratch at each other’s faces. This often leads to scratches of the eyes or, in more serious cases, perforations or punctures. Young kittens that don’t quite understand how to protect themselves or move with caution may also scratch or be scratched in the eye more often.
Unfortunately, eye injuries caused by cat scratches can vary somewhat significantly in their severity. The cornea (the transparent layer at the front of the eye) and the sclera (the tough white of the eye that protects the eyeball) are most often affected in these situations, but every injury is different.
Simple injuries might affect only the cornea or sclera by either scratching or passing through the surfaces slightly. More serious injuries may occur if something enters and harms the layers of the eye beyond the cornea and sclera, such as the iris or choroid. These types of injuries pose threats to your cat’s vision.
Fortunately, many eye injuries resulting from a cat’s scratch during playtime or a fight will be simple and affect only the outermost layers of the eye. Even still, these injuries will need to be examined and treated in accordance to how large or deep they are.
Spotting eye injuries
It’s relatively easy to spot an eye injury in cats. When your kitty’s eyes are normally wide-open and alert, watching them squint or keep one eye shut is often enough to give pet owners pause. There are also a number of other telltale signs you may notice.
The following are the most common signs of eye injuries in cats:
- Pawing at the eye
- Excessive blinking
- Watery eye
- Redness or inflammation
- Abnormally shaped pupil
- Blood in the eye
- Visible scratch
- Aversion to light
If you notice your cats rough-housing or fighting, watch them closely afterward to ensure they aren’t displaying symptoms of eye injuries or any other injuries. Staying vigilant after an altercation between cats can help you get your cat to the vet faster.
If you suspect your cat has an eye injury, try not to touch their eyes or head to avoid agitating them. It’s likely that your cat is already distressed, so attempting to touch their already painful eye could cause additional injuries accidentally. You should be able to spot enough symptoms from afar to raise suspicion and take your pet into the vet.
Treating eye injuries
Because eye injuries can vary in severity and are difficult to diagnose with the naked eye at home, it’s very important to take your cat in to the vet for a professional examination. Only then will you know whether further action is necessary to treat your cat’s symptoms.
Minor injuries such as slight scratches of the cornea will often heal themselves in time. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics or other eye drops to keep infections at bay and soothe any pain your cat experiences.
Perforating wounds may require the use of a contact lens and eye drops to prevent the worsening of the wound as the delicate internal layers of the eye heal. More serious injuries to the eye may require surgery to correct. The deeper the laceration is to the eye’s inner tissues, the more intervention that may be necessary to minimize risk of vision impairment.
Your cat may need to wear an Elizabethan collar while their eye injury heals to prevent them from pawing or scratching at it and further agitating the injury. It will also be important for you to keep your cats separated during this time to minimize the risk of re-injury.
You’ll need to check on the state of your cat’s injury every few days as it heals. Follow your vet’s instructions and be very careful when approaching your cat’s eye to avoid agitation and re-injury.
In time, your cat’s eye injury should heal, and their vision should return to normal, as long as the injury was not very severe. If the injury was indeed caused by an altercation between your cats, it may be necessary for you to keep them separated more often throughout the day or consult your vet on how to control their behavior to stop the fighting and reduce the risk of future injuries.