Entropion in Cats: Ragdoll Cat Leo’s Story

Entropion in cats is a condition in which eyelashes touch the cornea of the eyes. This is Ragdoll cat Leo’s experience with it, recounted by his human Dad, Joel.

Entropion in Cats ragdoll cat leo on office chair
Blue mitted Ragdoll cat, Leo

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How It Started: Leo develops allergies

Floppycats’ readers may remember our male Ragdoll cat Leo’s allergy problem a few years ago.

Shortly after Leo turned 1 year old, he began to develop allergies. He began to scratch around his head and neck excessively, and his eyes began to weep brownish fluid continuously throughout the day.

It would tend to weep more when he ate, and clear up some during the night or daytime between breakfast and dinner time. We feed our cats twice a day – once in the morning when we get up, and once again at around 5:00 pm. His symptoms got steadily worse – and he developed a bad case of Conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis is a fairly common feline eye infection which causes the Conjunctiva or the protective membrane between the inside of the eyelids and the cornea of the cats’ eyes to turn pink.

Entropion in Cats ragdoll cat leo in his catio
A pic of Leo in 2017 while he was developing conjunctivitis

We took Leo to our vet immediately and he was tested for several types of bacteria that infects the eyes including the herpes virus. Luckily these tests were negative and the doctor gave us a steroid liquid to apply in dropper form to Leo’s eyes twice a day.

He also recommended that we give him a half of a child’s Allegra pill once a day. We eventually traced some of his allergic reactions to scented laundry detergent and certain ingredients in cat foods. Leo’s conjunctivitis eventually cleared up, and we switched to using nothing but dye and perfume free laundry detergent.

Entropion in Cats ragdoll cat leo close-up
A pic of Leo in 2017 after his conjunctivitis had cleared up. Here you can see the tracks down the side of his nose where his tears are staining his fur. His eyes also look a little sticky with brown crud. We found out that this happens because Leo is missing the tear drainage tubes in the lower corner of his eyes.

What Causes Entropion in Cats: Leo continues to have allergic reaction and develops an eye condition called Entropion

However – as the next couple of years went by Leo’s allergies never quite left him completely. He still had weepy eyes, and he still scratched a little around his head and neck. Eventually our vet recommended another steroid medication called Atopica.

The chemical name for this oil is Cyclosporine. This oil can be mixed with a pet’s food so that they can take it more easily without causing a fuss. The Atopica seemed to help Leo quite a bit. His itching was greatly reduced, and he seemed more comfortable and peaceful. Leo remained on Atopica for the next year.

But not all was well. Although Leo’s itching and scratching had been reduced with the Atopica – he would still occasionally rub vigorously at his eyes with the back of his paw. This rubbing would occasionally be accompanied by subtle little headshakes as if it was causing severe irritation.

Leo’s eyes also continued to weep brownish tears especially after eating or during strenuous activity like playing with his Ragdoll sister Shelby or with toys. And he squinted almost all of his waking hours – his beautiful blue eyes could hardly be seen most of the time. We kept a watchful eye on him, and wondered what else we could do to help him.

And then the Covid 19 pandemic hit in April 2020. Our vet’s office shutdown along with most businesses in New York state. It was not possible to get an appointment for Leo to see our vet for the next year unless it was an emergency.

Entropion Cat Symptoms

Eventually we found a very good at home vet service that would come to our home and was capable of performing all the routine exams, vaccinations, and health checks that a regular office vet would do. Upon the first visit from our new at-home vet clinic – we were surprised when the doctor examined Leo and told us she suspected he had a condition called Entropion.

Well that sounded quite exotic – what the heck was it?

Our vet explained to us that when a cats eyelashes curl inward due to hereditary traits or from environmental conditions the eyelashes can touch the surface of the eye – or the cornea. When that happens, the cornea becomes irritated and the poor kitty gets a very annoying itchy/tickling sensation in their eyes.

Poor Leo had itchy eyeballs! This was making him constantly rub his eyes with back of his paw. This is a serious condition that can lead to infection of the cornea of the eye and in worst case scenarios can lead to vision loss for the kitty. She recommended that we take Leo to see a feline ophthalmologic specialist as soon as possible.

Yes ma’am!

Is Entropion in Cats Painful?

Our vet re-assured us that Leos condition was not particularly painful – but it was extremely annoying for the cat and should be corrected so the cat would not constantly rub its eyes. Doing that just makes it worse because the pressure from the cat’s paw forces the eyelashes deeper into the cornea of the eye. This will eventually lead to infection and possible vision loss if not dealt with. We made an appointment for Leo as soon as we could to see a feline eye specialist but due to the pandemic it was a long wait to get an appointment with the ophthalmologist.

While we waited what we did was to keep Leo’s face clean with a warm washcloth and keep giving him the Atopica so he would feel less itchy. We kept a sharp watch on his eyes to make sure he did not develop conjunctivitis again or some other infection. The vet said we could use common antibiotic eye medications on Leo like Tobramycin to help prevent infections while we waited.

Cat Entropion Treatment: Leo needed surgery to fix his Entropion condition

Once we were finally able to see him the specialist examined Leo’s face and eyes and confirmed that indeed he did have Entropion in both eyes and would need corrective surgery.

Entropion Cat Surgery

The surgery involves removing just the thin edge of the cat’s eyelids and taking the eyelashes with it. The cat would look a little funny without them but it would not be very noticeable to his owners and would not be a detriment to the cat as long as it was an indoor only pet.

Entropion in Cats ragdoll cat leo lounging

Leo would have to be put under anesthetic for the surgery and would have to wear a cone to protect his eyes and prevent him from damaging the stitching after the surgery. We were very concerned and worried about the surgery – I am always leery when they have to put a cat under – but we agreed to go ahead and schedule it for Leo’s benefit.

Entropion Cat Surgery Cost

The cost of the Entropion surgery was about $1200 dollars so readers will know what to expect.

Leo would need pre-op bloodwork to make sure he would not have any complications from the surgery. The cost of the bloodwork was about $200 dollars.

After another long wait the day of Leos surgery arrived and we brought him to the local animal surgery clinic and dropped him off with high hopes that he would make it through with no complications or problems.

Entropion Cat after Surgery

Success! Leo’s Entropion resolved and learning he has no tear drainage ducts

Fortunately, Leo’s surgery was successful with no complications or setbacks. When we went to pick him up, we could see that he was able to hold his eyelids open and that he had a plastic cone tied around his neck with some clean gauze wrappings. He looked pretty weird!

Entropion in Cats Ragdoll cat leo with cone

We got an additional surprise when we picked Leo up. The specialist told us that Leo did not seem to have any drainage ducts from his eyes for tears! Although he had normal tear producing glands, he had no place for the water that got generated to go.

A normal cat’s eye has a small tube in the lower corner of the eye next to its nose for tears and dirt that get washed off the cornea to drain down into the roof of the cats mouth to be disposed of. Due to a hereditary trait or a defect at his birth Leo did not have any!

Thus, any tears he produced end up running down the side of his nose and staining it a dark brown. The brown color is perfectly normal in this case. Cat and dog saliva turns brown due to oxidation after a few minutes. We would have to wipe this discharge away from Leos face every day to prevent it from staining his fur.

Entropion in Cats ragdoll cat leo sleeping with cone on

Some dog species like poodles also suffer from this same condition. The specialist also told us that Leo would need to wear the cone for at least two weeks and that it should NOT be removed before that time to prevent him from scratching at his eyes and pulling out the stitches that close the cuts required to remove the eyelash hair follicles.

Two weeks wearing the “cone of shame”? Leo was going to have a tough time with that. How would he be able to walk around without bumping into the walls and furniture wearing that ridiculous cone? How would he be able to eat? This would take some getting used to.

Entropion in Cats Home Treatment: Learning to help Leo navigate his world wearing a cone

We learned quite a bit about cat behavior and helping pets recover from surgeries while getting Leo through the several weeks he had to wear the cone. Upon bringing him home and letting him out of the carrier he immediately started bumping into things with the cone.

What we learned was that Leo had a preset amount of clearance between his head and his surroundings based on whisker length. One of the main uses of a cat’s whiskers is to judge how big an opening a cat will fit through while chasing things in the wild.

Leo was used to about 2 inches of space between himself and his surroundings. So what this meant was that as he navigated his way around our home he was used to coming within about 2 inches of any surrounding object before he would run into something.

His body adjusted automatically to alter his course to prevent collisions. But the cone he now wore extended PAST his whiskers and face in front of him. So what would happen is he would start to walk past something and WHACK – he would hit the front edge of the cone and stop him cold. Poor Leo!

We couldn’t help giggling at his predicament. However – he was able to adjust for this after a couple hours and he stopped bumping into things with the cone.

The next problem came at dinner time. No cat is prepared to attempt eating from a pet dish wearing a cone. Imagine yourself wearing something that prevents you from just dropping your face into a little pile of delicious food. What worked for us was a special setup for Leo’s food dish. We have a set of the heavy glass PawNosh pet dishes that we learned about through Jenny way back when we first brought our Ragdoll kittens home.

Entropion in Cats ragdoll cat leo eating
Leo eating out of a PawNosh bowl

The PawNosh is very heavy and will not slide easily if the cat grabs food from the bowl in rapid succession. To allow Leo’s mouth to reach the dish, we set the PawNosh dish on top of a flipped over Tupper wear bowl to elevate it about 4 inches off the counter.

(We allow Leo to eat on our counter top to prevent his sister Shelby from stealing his food.) Doing this allowed the lip of the cone to slide under the PawNosh bowl and allow Leo to bring his face close enough to the dish to reach his food. In addition to these measures, we also found we had to hold Leos dish in place while he ate to prevent him from pushing it over the edge of the Tupper wear bowl and spilling his food.

Luckily Leo had no issues with me holding his dish while he ate. I imagine some cats might not want human hands so close while they eat. If your cat needs to wear a cone and you need a way to keep the food dish from moving while they eat a good suggestion is to use a metal bowl and a strip of sticky magnet material to hold the dish in place.

You can buy sticky back magnet material at hobby stores for crafting. Cut a section of the magnetic strip and stick it to a piece of wood or an upside-down bowl. Set the cats metal bowl on the magnet to prevent it from moving while the cat eats. Once finished, you can just pop the bowl off the magnet and wash up.

Entropion in Cats elevated cat dish so kitty with a cone can eat
Leo food dish setup. Raising it on the back of the upside-down Tupperware bowl allowed him to reach the food in the dish wearing a cone

Even with this setup Leo still got some of the wet food he eats around the lip of the cone. We used a damp sponge to wipe the cone clean after he ate to prevent gross looking gobs of food from drying on the cone. His eyes also had lots of itchy black discharge and dried blood from his surgery.

We used a washcloth dampened in warm water to gently wipe away the crusty stuff and I was very careful not to disturb the stiches. The specialist explained that these stiches use self-dissolving thread and would break up and fall off his eyes in a few weeks. Once we had done this his face looked pretty good. We were happy that he would now get some relief from his itchy eyes.

Leo’s companion sister cat Shelby did not like that cone!

Another thing we had to deal with was Leo’s companion raggie sister Shelby. Shelby did not like him wearing that cone the least little bit.

Entropion in Cats ragdoll cat leo and shelby
Shelby and Leo

She would hiss at him and run away when he got close. It took a few days before Shelby would approach him for sniffs and greetings. If you have a multi-cat household and one of them needs to wear a cone, be prepared for negative reactions to the cone from the other cats.

What we did was just give her time (and a few treats – Shelby will kill a lion for treats LOL) to get used to Leo’s weird looking cone. After about 3 days Shelby would share my wife Tammy’s lap with Leo instead of hiding in the corner.

Leo is now a much happier cat after getting his Entropion treated

It’s now been about 2 months since Leo’s Entropion corrective surgery. We were able to take the cone off about 4 weeks after his surgery instead of just two. We noticed immediately that he would try to itch his face when we took the cone off the first time at two weeks.

Entropion in Cats ragdoll cat leo sleeping

The stitches were still not dissolved at that time so we put the cone right back on him and left it that way for an additional two weeks. During the additional weeks we continued to use a washcloth dipped in warm water to gently remove the crusty discharge and little pieces of stitching that were falling off his eye lids. But now as of today he looks pretty good – and seems very happy and peaceful.

He looks almost like his pre-surgery self. In addition, now that his eyes were not bothering him we were able to take him off the Atopica and allow him to be medication free for the first time in two years. We are so glad for him and wish him all our love and happiness. He has a really great personality and it now shines through to us from his beautiful blue eyes.

We hope the details I have written about our experiences with Entropion might help other cat owners deal with allergies and eye problem that they might be having with their own cats.

As always – thanks for allowing us to share our experiences!

Entropion in Cats ragdoll cat leos eye

Leo looks so much better now! We love you bud!

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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One Comment

  1. Joel (Leo’s dad) says:

    Loved this M
    Thanks for sharing our Leo with all your readers Jenny !

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