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C2004-09

Dear Christopher Cat

My friend has several cats and kittens with sore eyes. One cat lost sight in one eye and cries a lot.

The veterinarian says she doesn’t know the cause. Do you? What can my friend do to help these cats?

Christopher Responds

It sounds like your friend’s cats may be sharing an infection. Her veterinarian is right: it’s difficult to know which germs are causing the problem.

An eye infection is often part of an upper respiratory infection, characterized by goopy eyes, sneezing and stuffy nose. Sometimes there’s a yellow discharge from the eyes and nose, and the eyes may even be pasted shut.

These infections are often caused by viruses and perpetuated by bacteria.

Treatment usually requires several antibacterial and sometimes antiviral medications. Even after effective medications are identified, these infections often take a long time to clear up completely.

If the cats aren’t responding to therapy, your friend should ask her veterinarian to test for the feline leukemia and immunodeficiency viruses, called FeLV and FIV, respectively. These viruses suppress the immune system and may contribute to infections that don’t respond quickly to medications.

Eye infections are usually contagious to other cats, so I don’t think I’ll pay a visit.

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