Many cats have chronic problems with
conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye membranes). Often, the
comes and goes. The eyes may be red, swollen, watery, crusty, or goopy.
Causes include infection, congenital defects (small or absent tear ducts),
facial conformation (Persian features), and scarring from previous
infections. However, the most common cause of conjunctivitis in cats is
infection with a Herpes virus. In cats, Herpes is an upper respiratory
virus; it's also called "rhinotracheitis" and is one of the
components of the combination upper respiratory panleukopenia (feline distemper) vaccine
that most kittens receive. The vaccine does not actually prevent Herpes
infection; its main function is to reduce the severity of the disease.
Nearly all cats are exposed to
Herpesvirus as kittens. For most cats, no further problems occur. However,
Herpes is a sneaky virus, and likes to lie dormant until it gets a chance
to get one up on the immune system. Because stress suppresses the immune
system, cats under stress are particularly susceptible to recurrent Herpes
flare-ups. Herpes is painful, and usually causes quite a bit of redness
and a watery discharge. It often attacks only one eye, producing a
lopsided squint. Cats tend to be photophobic; that is, they squint against
bright light, or try to avoid it altogether.
Treatment for Herpes
There are several treatment options for
Herpes. One of the simplest is l-lysine, an amino acid that is inexpensive
and readily available at the health food store. It comes in capsules or
tablets, usually 500 mg. Capsules are much easier to work with, if you can
get them. The dose is 500 mg twice a day for 5 days (total 1,000 mg/day).
Lysine has a slightly salty taste, and is easily disguised by mixing with
canned cat food or baby food. If that seems like a huge dose for a cat, it
is--but that's what it takes to work. Once the acute episode is under
control, a maintenance dose of 250 mg per day can be given indefinitely.
Bathe the eyes in a
To relieve irritation and wash viral
particles from the eye, you can make a homemade saline solution. Use 1/4
teaspoon of table salt to 1 cup of water (room temperature). Three or four
times a day, use a cotton ball to drizzle a small amount saline into the
cat's eyes. Make the saline fresh each and every time, because bacteria
could grow in the solution between treatments.
Another surprisingly effective treatment
is 'Willard Water.' (Available in the US) This is a catalyst that theoretically changes the
molecular structure of water. It is usually available at health food
stores. Follow the directions on the bottle to make up a gallon at a time.
Use this as the only source of drinking water for your cat. The effects
are not scientifically explainable, but they are usually immediate--within
a day or two--and dramatic.
Because herpes flare-ups are commonly stress-related, essences are an
important part of treatment. Check out our full line of Essences for Cats
to choose the remedy most appropriate for your cat's personality and
Long-term nutritional support with antioxidants such as
BioSuperfood and other immune boosting supplements will also help
prevent recurrences. Alternative treatment with homeopathy, herbs, or
homotoxicologycan also be very helpful.
If symptoms worsen, or persist more than
a few days, a check by your veterinarian is warranted. Herpes can cause
serious corneal ulcers that may result in loss of vision if untreated.