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Does Your Newborn Kitten Have An Eye Infection?

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At around two weeks of age, a kitten's top and bottom eyelids will separate and their eyes will open. If you're caring for a litter of kittens, it's important to be aware of signs that point to an eye infection, as eye infections are a common type of bacterial infection in newborn kittens. The cornea or the conjunctiva can become infected as a result of bacteria in the kitten's living environment or due to the mother having a vaginal infection at the time of giving birth. An untreated bacterial eye infection can lead to a kitten permanently losing their sight, so don't ignore any warning signs.

Signs Of An Eye Infection In Kittens

If your kitten's eyes haven't opened two weeks after their birth, there is cause for concern. Sometimes when an infection is present, their eyes will open, but there are other signs that all is not well with their eye health. Other signs of an eye infection in kittens include redness, crusts around the eyelids and discharge, which may be cloudy or clear. A build-up of fluid in the eye can cause the eyelids to bulge out, and some kittens will also develop ulcers on the surface of their eye due to bacteria eroding the cornea.

Diagnosing And Treating An Eye Infection

An eye infection can be diagnosed by examining the eye and swabbing the surface of the eye for analysis to determine the strain of bacteria present. Blood and urine samples may also be taken to check for any underlying health conditions that could be causing your kitten's symptoms.

A bacterial eye infection is typically treated with a topical antibiotic. In some cases, a course of oral antibiotics will also be required to clear the infection. During treatment, you will have to keep your kitten's eyelids clean and moist, so your vet will show you how to apply warm compresses to prevent the eyelids from sticking together. Your vet will examine the kitten's eyes once their treatment is complete to ensure the infection has cleared and there are no signs of damage to their sight.

Bacterial infections can spread to other kittens in a litter, so be vigilant and have the other kittens examined if they show any signs of infection. Your vet services provider can also give you advice on providing a clean living environment for your kittens in those early weeks when they are particularly susceptible to illness.

If you have any concerns about a kitten's eye health, or of you would like guidance on caring for a litter of kittens, speak with your vet.