Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Jenny
My sister, Amy, recently had an issue with her Ragdoll cat Ash’s area above his eye. I asked her to write a post about it and include what the vet had to say, in case it might help someone else.
Amy wrote, “I noticed that Ash started scratching his eye in late January and it was getting progressively worse.
On January 30th, Ash could barely hold his eye open one night and that is when we took him to the emergency vet (we posted about it on Facebook):
Amy thought his eye was healing nicely and posted a live video of him playing at home:
Live Video of Ash
But the next day that wasn’t the case.
Our mom kindly took Ash to his regular vet, KC Cat Clinic, and Dr. Gloor explained that the ointment prescribed by the emergency vet can potentially get into the eye and possibly damage the eye/vision. After taking a closer look at Ash’s eye (repeating the corneal stain that the Emergency Vet did)…
…Dr. Gloor prescribed Ash to be given an antibiotic eye drop and the results were pretty quick.
Email from Dr. Gloor:
From: KC Cat Clinic
Date: Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 1:02 PM
I’ll try to be thorough but brief (hah!) about Ash’s visit here today. Based on the pictures that your mom showed me, his eye and skin look worse today (correct me if I’m wrong).
I repeated a corneal stain today to be certain there was no corneal ulcer present (there isn’t) and I switched eye medications to an antibiotic eye drop instead of the antibiotic ointment in case he was having a reaction to the erythromycin ointment–sorry, the drop has to go in more often.
I also want you to discontinue the Vetricyn topical on the skin in case it is accidentally going into his eye, as non-ophthalmic medications can damage the eye quickly if they make contact with it. Skin wounds, abrasions and irritations in cats don’t respond as readily to topicals as they do in people, so if the skin irritations persist, we will want to do an oral antibiotic (or there is the long-acting injection).
The most common reason we see eye issues in cats is due to a very common herpes virus that causes upper respiratory infections in cats. This virus is all over our environment and is extremely easy to pass from one cat to another without direct contact. About 90% of cats in the world have been exposed to this virus before being vaccinated for it, and most of those cats end up as chronic carriers of the virus. Usually the cat’s immune system can keep it under control, but if the cat is stressed or sick with something else, the virus can become active and the cat can develop symptoms of upper respiratory infection like sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis (like Ash) and/or corneal ulcerations. Because it is a viral issue, it has to run its course, but we use antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections that can commonly exacerbate the viral issue (that’s what we are doing with Ash’s eye).
I sent home samples of an amino-acid supplement called Lysine. This amino acid likes the same places in the body that the virus likes, so if the lysine gets there first, the virus is less likely to become active. It depends on the kitty though–sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t seem to make a difference. If he likes either the chew treats or the powder mixed into canned food, let’s use it for at least a few weeks to see if it helps.
If his eye is not at least 50% better tomorrow, I want to add in an anti-viral eye drop that we will call into Georgetown Compounding pharmacy. If his eye is actually worse, we will probably send you to the ophthamologist.
I also think we can keep the E-collar off of him unless he is really going at his eye. If he is, then we need to do pain medication and not necessarily the E-collar. Give us an update tonight via email and tomorrow as well either via email or telephone.
I was going to suggest a pain medication until his eye is better, but with the gabapentin for his visit, I was afraid that adding buprenorphine into the mix would make him really loopy! (By the way, the gabapentin was fabulous for him!!) Again, let me know if you think he is still uncomfortable and we can dispense some buprenorphine for a few days.
Sorry for the long email, but wanted to cover all the things I talked with your mom about–I hope I did. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
We gave the eye drops for several days and it slowly started showing healing progress. From the time that I started see Ash scratch above his eye to when it was almost healed up, the time span ended up being around 15 days.
How to Put Eye Drops in a Difficult Cat
Dr. Gloor explained that the virus can flare up in cats when they are under stress. I had my parents dog, Parker, over for an extended period 4-6 hours and he was really curious about the cats (except the cats weren’t thrilled that he was there). That was the only thing that had changed in Ash’s environment, so I am pretty sure it was the cause of the flare-up.