Blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelids, primarily occurs when the
eyelids are injured during cat fights. Scratches and
surface injuries can easily become infected. This leads to itching and
scratching, crust formation, and the accumulation of pus and debris on the
Blepharitis can also be caused by head mange mites (Notoedres cati),
demodectic mange mites, or ringworm infection. Head mange causes intense
itching. Because of persistent scratching, there is hair loss, redness, and scab
formation. Ringworm affects the hair on the eyelid, causing it to become
brittle and break off next to the skin. This is not an itchy condition. The
skin may look scaly and crusted but is seldom red or irritated.
Cats like to scratch. They scratch during play. They scratch while stretching. They scratch to mark territory or as a threatening signal other cats. And because cats’ claws need regular sharpening, cats scratch on things to remove frayed, worn outer claws and expose new, sharper claws. Unfortunately, all this scratching can cause a lot of damage to furniture, drapes and carpeting!
Treatment: Protect the eye by instilling mineral oil, and then loosen the
scabs by soaking them with warm compresses. Keep the eye clean and seek
veterinary attention. Antibiotics, topical or oral or
both, may be required for infected eyelids.
Spasm of the muscles around the eye is induced by pain. This can have
numerous causes, including irritation from a foreign body. The irritation
causes tightening of the eyelid muscles, which partially closes the eye and
rolls the eyelids inward against the cornea. Once rolled in, the rough margins
of the lids rub against the eyeball, causing further pain and spasm.
Treatment: Anesthetic drops can be applied to the eyeball to relieve the
pain and break the cycle. The relief is temporary if the underlying irritant is
not found and removed.
Chemosis (Sudden Swelling)
In cats with this condition, the conjunctiva and eyelids are fluid-filled,
puffy, and soft. Water has passed out of the circulation into the tissues in
response to the allergen.
Sudden swelling of the eyelids and conjunctiva is generally caused by an
allergic reaction. Insect bites and allergens in foods and drugs are the most
Chlamydophila and viral infections may also cause swelling, but it is
primarily of just the conjunctiva.
Treatment: This is not a serious problem. It is of short duration and
improves when the allergen is removed. Simple cases may be treated with drops
or eye ointments prescribed by your veterinarian that contain a corticosteroid.
Some cats may need systemic treatment for the allergic reaction, such as a
corticosteroid or an antihistamine.