Feline eye problems & antibiotic ointments

Updated February 21, 2017

Cats do not have a tendency to as many eye problems as dogs, but they do suffer from common ailments that veterinarians see every day. If you notice redness, irritation or discharge coming from your cat's eyes, make an appointment with your veterinarian to find out the problem. Feline eye problems can often be treated with a simple antibiotic ointment. Untreated eye infections can cause chronic infection and even blindness.

Common Eye Problems

Feline herpes virus, a contagious viral infection that is caught from other cats can cause eye inflammation. Panleukopia, feline infectious peritonitis, feline leukaemia and feline immunodeficiency virus can all cause eye symptoms that may need treatment with antibiotics. Chlamydia, a bacterial infection, can cause eye problems. Toxoplasmosis also causes eye inflammation. Calcivirus can also be the culprit. All of these disease can cause conjunctivitis, inflammation of the membrane that cover the eye. Foreign bodies or trauma to the eye can also cause problems.


A cat suffering from eye problems may exhibit symptoms such as redness, irritation, swelling or discharge from the eye. According to PetsWebMD, there may be red inner eyelids, excessive tearing, discharge that may stick at the corner of the eye, cloudiness of the eye, the "third eyelid" coming across the eye or staining of the fur around the cat's eye indicating discharge.


Several tests are used to diagnose eye problems in cats. A veterinarian uses an ophthalmoscope to see within the eye chamber. Health professionals also employ a fluorescein stain to detect ulcers of the cornea. To determine the level of tear production, the vet may administer a Schirmer Tear Test. The vet may also use an ocular pressure meter for the detection of glaucoma.

Antibiotic Ointments for Feline Eye Problems

One of the most common treatments for cats is triple antibiotic ointment, which contains bacitracin, neomycin and polymixin and is often combined with hydrocortisone, a frequently used corticosteroid. Triple antibiotic ointment treats common bacterial eye infections, including chlamydia and conjunctivitis It comes in generic and name-brand products. A vet may prescribe these products in eye-drop form.

Terramycin is another medication used to treat conjunctivitis. The ointment contains polymixin B and oxytetracycline in a petroleum base. This medication is found to be well-tolerated by most cats.

Erythromycin is frequently prescribed to treat bacterial eye infections like conjunctivitis. It can fight many kinds of harmful bacteria, including staphylococcus aureous, E.coli and staphylococcus hemolyticus.

Choramphenical is a broad spectrum antibiotic to treat conjunctivitis. Broad spectrum means it is effective against many types of bacteria that can cause eye problems in cats.

Oral Antibiotics for Eye Problems

For some conditions, a veterinarian may prescribe oral antibiotics instead of or in combination with topical ointments. Panleukopenia, a highly contagious disease, can cause retinal dysplasia and eye lesions which can be managed with oral antibiotics. Toxoplasmosis, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukaemia and feline infectious peritonitis are all systemic diseases that can cause eye problems that may be treated with oral antibiotics.

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