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Dear Doctor - Our experts address eye conditions in cats

Seeks help for catís puffy eyelids

[From Tufts May 2011 Issue]

My cat has puffy red inner lids. Her outer lids are pink. I have been using pure saline solution according to a book called The Natural Cat.

There’s not much of a difference after a few days of using this solution. Veterinarians in my community are expensive and sometimes, it can be difficult to schedule an appointment with them. Should I continue with the saline solution or try to get her to be examined by a veterinarian? Is there anything else I could try? How long before there is a noticeable difference? Thank you for any advice you can give me.
Carolyn Taylor

Dear Carolyn: I’m not sure exactly what you mean when you say “inner lids” versus “outer lids.” Cats have a structure in their eye called the nictitating membrane that is often referred to as an inner eyelid or “third” eyelid. If this membrane is puffy or swollen, then your cat might have a condition called conjunctivitis.

It is also hard to interpret what you mean by the outer lids being pink. White cats and some orange cats have eyelids that are more prominently pink than other cats, and this is normal for them and is nothing to worry about.

In most instances, conjunctivitis is caused by infectious agents, such as viruses or bacteria. Saline solution alone is unlikely to have any significant effect. Your cat probably would benefit from a topical eye antibiotic and/or antiviral medication, either as drops or ointment.

I don’t think there’s any way around taking her into your veterinarian for evaluation. I wouldn’t procrastinate. Eye problems in cats should be addressed promptly. Some eye problems, if untreated, may result in vision loss.
Arnold Plotnick, DVM, DACVIM
Catnip Medical Editor

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