Conjunctivitis in Cats How Long Does It Last?

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Conjunctivitis in Cats How Long Does it Last?

The answer is: Milder versions of conjunctivitis in cats may last up to a week or two. There is no cure for viral conjunctivitis and your cat may face reoccurrences during their lifetime.

If you notice your cat paying more attention to their eye(s) then normal, such as rubbing it often, and if it is red and swollen, your cat may have conjunctivitis. If you think your cat may have conjunctivitis you may want to also know how long does conjunctivitis in cats last?

There are different types of conjunctivitis in cats, with different treatments and lengths of infections. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you exactly what kind of conjunctivitis your cat has, and the course of treatment and prognosis. Below we cover conjunctivitis in cats extensively, including how to prevent it.

What is Conjunctivitis?

The mucous lining of the eyeball, as well as the eyelid, is call the conjunctiva. In addition, cats have a third eyelid, which is also lined with conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis is when this membrane is inflamed.

Some signs of conjunctivitis to look for in your cat is watering, or excessive tearing, of the eye(s), discharge that looks cloudy and could be yellow or greenish, and red and swollen eyes. If you notice any of these symptoms you should contact your veterinarian.

How to Diagnose Conjunctivitis in Cats

Causes of Conjunctivitis in Cats

Causes, or types, of conjunctivitis can be broken into two groups; infectious and non-infectious. Some causes could be allergies, hereditary conditions, tumors, or a secondary reaction to another type of eye disease.

Infectious Conjunctivitis in Cats

Most cases of conjunctivitis in cats is caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In many cases the cause of inflammation is initially due to Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, also known as Feline Herpesvirus, or Feline Calicivirus.

In many cases, secondary bacterial infections, such as Streptococci and Staphylococci can complicated viral infections, causing other issues. There is no cure for viral conjunctivitis and while your cat may have periods that their eyes are ok, chances are they will have reoccurrences.

Non-Infectious Conjunctivitis in Cats

Many long-haired breed cats have a higher risk of being born with eyelids that are turned inside out, referred to as entropion. This causes irritation on the eye due to constant rubbing of the eyelashes on the cornea.

Dust, allergens, and other particles could become trapped under the eyelid, causing irritation as well. This could lead to a secondary infection in the eye, which is not the same as the infectious conjunctivitis in cats.

What to Do if Your Cat Has Conjunctivitis

If you believe that your cat has conjunctivitis you need to contact your veterinarian. Conjunctivitis in cats will not go away on its own, nor can you treat the conjunctivitis at home.

A veterinarian will be able to rule out a foreign body, or any other physical irritant in the eye. If it appears that the cause is not physical, then your veterinarian may start treatment right away to reduce inflammation and provide comfort for your cat.

Tests will be performed to determine the type of infection(s) that your cat may have, and once those diagnoses come back, your vet can then proceed with a more detailed treatment specific to your cat’s needs.

There’s a good chance that there will be more than one issuing going on so you may be sent home with oral antibiotics as well as with some eyedrops. If you have other cats at home, you will need to keep them separate for a time as the conjunctivitis could be contagious to them.

In most instances, humans don’t have to worry about catching conjunctivitis from cats. Keep good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands after handling your cat, and giving them medicine, and you should be fine.

Your cat may respond to the medications within a few days or a week but ensure that you give them the full course of medication as directed by the veterinarian. It may look like the conjunctivitis in your cat is cleared up, but it may not be gone entirely.

A reoccurrence of conjunctivitis in cats can be harder to treat and eliminate a second time around. This is why it is vital to follow the directions given to you by your veterinarian. If left untreated, or it gets worse, it could cause blindness in your cat in extreme cases.

Treating Conjunctivitis in Cats

Practical Example of Treating a Cat or Kitten with Conjunctivitis:

Preventing Conjunctivitis in Cats

While you can’t prevent your cat from being born with an eyelid that is flipped, you can help prevent your cats from other forms of conjunctivitis.


Keeping up with your cat’s vaccinations is extremely important. Even something as simple of the cat flu, isn’t so simple, and is a common cause for conjunctivitis in cats. By ensuring that your cat receives all of their vaccinations, you are giving them the best chance at being healthy.

Manage Stress

Cats don’t like change and can become stressed or anxious very easily. When cats are stressed, or anxious, their immune systems are the first to take a hit. With a lowered immune system, they are susceptible to a multitude of infections, including conjunctivitis.

Keep an Eye on Your Cat

Watch your cat while they move about, especially during play time. Sharp objects can scratch their eyes, including their own claws, and cause irritation. Try to reduce the number of sharp objects around your house that they could get injured by.

If you noticed that they ran into something, just check on them to see if their eye is tearing up, or watering, and then keep an eye on them for the rest of the day to see if it gets worse.

If you have a kitten, wet a cotton ball or cloth with warm water and lightly wipe their eyes, removing any dirt, dust, allergens and other debris that could be around their eyes. This will help keep irritants off of their eyeballs, and away from the conjunctiva.

In Conclusion

Conjunctivitis in cats is not something that you want to ignore or leave untreated. The best thing you can do for your cat is to contact your veterinarian so that they can diagnose the exact cause, and type, of conjunctivitis in your cat.

With the correct diagnosis you can get the correct treatment immediately, so that your cat can feel better sooner.

You can’t treat conjunctivitis on your own at home, but you can help prevent it. And once your cat has it, it will not go away on its own. As much as we want to be able to help our feline family members, sometimes we can’t do it ourselves and we need to reach out to the vet, this is one of those cases.

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