Does your feline friend have red, swollen, watery, and squinting eyes? It could be conjunctivitis. Yes, just like humans, cats can also get conjunctivitis. But what exactly is it, and how does it affect cats?

According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine research, conjunctivitis, or pink eye, in cats, occurs when there is inflammation in the conjunctiva or the mucous membrane that makes up the lining of a cat’s upper and lower eyelids, the outer surface of their eyeball, and their third eyelid (the membrane in the inner corner of a cat’s eye).

The most common eye disorder in cats, conjunctivitis, can be uncomfortable and may affect one or both eyes. It is most common in kittens, but cats of any age may also be affected.

So what can you expect when your cat has conjunctivitis?

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  1. Symptoms of Conjunctivitis in Cats
  2. Causes of Conjunctivitis in Cats
  3. Is Conjunctivitis in Cats Contagious
  4. Treatment for Conjunctivitis in Cats
  5. How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment
  6. FAQs
  7. Conclusion

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis in Cats

Pink eye symptoms in cats may appear in one or both eyes. Among the common symptoms are:

  • Excessive watering of the eye(s);
  • Repeated blinking;
  • Squinting;
  • Abnormal discharge;
  • A red or swollen third eyelid that may cover the eye (either partially or fully).

If any of these symptoms are exhibited by your cat, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause and how you can address it.

Monitoring your cat for signs of health conditions such as conjunctivitis will be much easier with a high-quality pet camera such as the Pet Camera. The Petcube Cam helps you keep an eye on your cat whenever and wherever you may be. With its innovative features, you’ll know when your cat is exhibiting any symptoms that are out of the ordinary.

Read more: Treating Cloudy Cat Eye

Causes of Conjunctivitis in Cats

How does a cat get pink eye? While all cats can get pink eye or conjunctivitis, kittens are more susceptible to the condition as their immune systems are still developing. But what causes "pink eye" in cats? The causes can be classified into two types:

Infectious causes

According to NCBI study the most prevalent causes of conjunctivitis in cats include viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Examples include Feline Herpesvirus or Feline Calicivirus, Mycoplasma, and Chlamydophila. Primary viral infections are also often aggravated by secondary infections due to bacteria such as Staphylococci and Streptococci.

Infections are most prevalent in environments with many cats, such as catteries and multi-cat households.

Non-infectious causes

Meanwhile, if your cat hasn’t been exposed to other cats with conjunctivitis, you might ask, "How did my cat get pink eye?". Apart from infectious causes, there are also non-infectious causes of conjunctivitis, which may be due to genetic or hereditary factors, environmental elements, or other eye conditions.

For example, some cat breeds, such as Himalayans and Persians, as well as other breeds with long hair, may be born with a condition called entropion, where their eyelids turn in. This makes them more susceptible to eye issues such as conjunctivitis.

Environmental factors such as chemical irritants and allergens may also cause conjunctivitis. On the other hand, it may also be secondary to eye problems such as corneal injuries or ulcers, glaucoma, dry eye, or uveitis.

Read more: Cats and Laser Pointers: Pros, Cons, and Safety Tips

Is Conjunctivitis in Cats Contagious

You might be wondering: Can you get pink eye from a cat? Or can cats get pink eye from humans?

The common causes of conjunctivitis in cats are very contagious from cat to cat. However, both infectious and non-infectious conjunctivitis types are not contagious to humans.

It’s important to note, however, that humans can be carriers of the disease. But how exactly? Say, for example, that one of your cats has herpes conjunctivitis. If you don’t wash your hands before handling another cat, the other cat may get infected as well.

Treatment for Conjunctivitis in Cats

The treatment for non-specific infections conjunctivitis generally involves eye medications (ex. eye drops or ointments) with broad-spectrum antibiotics to address infections as well as anti-inflammatory medications to lessen the inflammation.

If the cause of conjunctivitis has been diagnosed as any of the conditions below, the corresponding treatment options may be recommended:

Herpes conjunctivitis

While such cases are often mild, cats with the infection can spread the virus, and relapses may occur. When a secondary bacterial infection develops, antibiotics are usually prescribed. For severe cases, antiviral medications may be recommended. Immune stimulants such as interferon alpha may be used. Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence suggests that L-lysine may help in faster healing and reduce the risk of recurrence as well, but the studies aren’t conclusive yet.

Chlamydophila / Mycoplasma conjunctivitis

An ophthalmic ointment such as Tetracycline as well as an oral antibiotic (ex. Azithromycin) may be prescribed.

Eosinophilic or allergic conjunctivitis

Treatment may involve topical corticosteroid eye drops or ointments and topical medications to address the allergy-causing conjunctivitis.

Read more: Understanding Your Cat: Body Language, Vocalization

How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment

Because eyes are delicate, cats may also be susceptible to pet emergencies involving their eyes, such as severe cases of conjunctivitis, for example.

Having a Pet Emergency Fund by Petcube will help in treating your cat's condition as it assures coverage for the expenses involved in treatment. That way, you won't have to worry about paying for the vet bills and will instead be able to focus more on your cat's healing and recovery. Apart from the coverage, you may also get access to their online vet service, allowing you to consult with certified veterinarians throughout the treatment process and beyond.


How long does pink eye last in cats?

The prognosis for pink eye in cats depends on the cause, severity, and overall health of your cat. But on average, it generally takes 1-2 weeks to resolve conjunctivitis in cats after treatment. However, it may take longer for those who experience complications as well as those with chronic or recurrent cases.

Does cat pink eye go away on its own?

Sometimes, mild cases of conjunctivitis may heal on their own. But to be sure, it's best to talk to your vet about your cat's condition.

Generally, it is recommended to bring your pet to the vet so serious eye conditions such as ulcers may be ruled out. Immediate treatment is important in multi-cat households to prevent the condition from spreading.


Cats may be susceptible to eye issues such as conjunctivitis, so we need to protect our cat's eyes and prevent complications. While some cases of conjunctivitis may recur, there are ways to manage and treat the condition depending on the type and severity of our cat’s case.

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