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Can Cats Get Pink Eye? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Written by: Cassandra Kyser

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Can Cats Get Pink Eye? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A common eye condition cats can develop is conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye. Every cat owner should know about the signs of pink eye and when to contact their vet. Although humans can contract conjunctivitis, they rarely catch it from cats since viral, allergic, and immune-mediated conjunctivitis are not contagious to humans.

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Can Cats Get Pink Eye?

What Are the Signs of Pink Eye in Cats?

The hallmark sign of pink eye¹ in cats is redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, the thin layer of tissue that lines the eyeballs and the inside of the eyelids. Inflammation of the conjunctiva can make it difficult for a cat to open their eyes fully.

Cats with pink eye may also blink more often or appear to squint, and a discharge from the eye is common. Depending on the cause of pink eye, affected cats may sneeze, have a runny nose, eat less, and act lethargic.

cat with irratated eye
Image Credit: Sheila Fitzgerald, Shutterstock

What Causes Pink Eye in Cats?

Cats typically develop pink eye from infectious agents, such as viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Although it’s less common, cats can develop the condition due to allergies or eyelid problems.

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What Is the Treatment for Pink Eye in Cats?

Your vet will prescribe a treatment based on the cause of pink eye. You may have to administer eye drops, eye ointment, and oral medication. Sometimes, a protective collar is also needed. Follow your vet’s instructions for how long to give your cat the medication.

Vet dripping drops in cat's eye
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Are There Home Remedies for Pink Eye in Cats?

Pink eye is not a condition you should attempt to treat at home. A vet must identify the underlying cause of conjunctivitis and prescribe the proper treatment. If improperly treated, pink eye can progress and lead to blindness.

Will Pink Eye in Cats Go Away on Its Own?

No, conjunctivitis won’t clear up without treatment. Consult your vet if your cat shows any signs of pink eye.

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Can Cats Spread Pink Eye to Humans?

The viruses that cause conjunctivitis in cats cannot be transmitted to humans. However, a Chlamydophila felis infection or eye worm disease (Thelaziasis) can potentially affect humans with weakened immune systems. You should always wash your hands before and after handling a cat with conjunctivitis.

Can Cats Catch Pink Eye From Other Cats?

Pink eye can spread from one cat to another. If you have more than one cat at home, ask your vet if you need to quarantine the infected cat.

a kitten with eyes infection
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

Are Some Cat Breeds More Susceptible to Pink Eye?

A cat of any age or breed can develop pink eye. Himalayan and Persian cats are more susceptible to abnormal eye anatomy, called entropion, which can cause pink eye. Cats with entropion have eyelids that roll inward.

If entropion is the cause of your cat’s pink eye, your vet will discuss the treatment options. Surgery is often required to correct entropion.

Can Indoor Cats Develop Pink Eye?

Yes. Your cat can have pink eye even if they stay indoors and do not have contact with other cats. Cats can develop pink eye infections they acquired as kittens from abnormal eye anatomy, environmental allergies, or foreign material trapped inside the eyelids.

Kitten with eye infection Kristi
Image Credit: Blokhin, Shutterstock

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Cats of any age and breed can develop conjunctivitis, which is commonly called pink eye. Signs of an infection include swollen and red eyes and eyelids, eye discharge, and squinting. Your vet can determine the underlying cause of pink eye and prescribe the proper treatment. Pink eye does not go away on its own, nor are there effective home remedies.

Featured Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

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