Poor little puss -- she's got teary eyes. No, she's not crying but she may have a cold or mild eye infection. Fortunately, many times, you can take care of her yourself with some natural remedy ingredients found in your own cabinets. Mix the right ingredient with water and you can give your kitty a soothing eye wash.
Conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the membrane covering the eyelids and eyeball, is a common eye problem in cats. A runny discharge is a common sign of conjunctivitis. Typically caused by virus or bacteria, other symptoms of conjunctivitis include a red eye and pawing at the eye because it's itchy and uncomfortable for the cat.
Eyewashes from Home
If it looks like your cat's got a mild case of conjunctivitis, you can try clearing up your cat's eyes at home. A dilute solution of ophthalmic-use boric acid makes an effective eye cleaner. If you don't have the ingredients on hand, 1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved into 1/2 cup of warm water will make an effective eyewash; apply a bit to a cotton ball to wipe your cat's eyes.
Other natural remedy options for cat eye colds include making tea to use as an eye wipe. Chamomile tea, eyebright tea, roobios tea and green tea can all be brewed to be used as eye drops for an eye infection. Put two to three drops in the affected eye up to three times in a day or place the cooled teabag against her eye several times during the day. Ready-made natural remedies are commercially available if you don't want to mix your own eye-healing concoctions. Resist the urge to use your own medication from your medicine chest; cats should never take human medication unless they're under veterinary supervision.
Visiting the Vet
Whatever remedy you decide on, give it 24 hours to improve your cat's eye. If her symptoms don't improve, or they get worse, she should go to the vet. Signs of a deteriorating condition include mucus or pus present in the discharge, indicating a secondary bacterial infection. Though it's a common ailment in cats, left untreated, conjunctivitis can lead to other more serious vision problems, including blindness. Your vet will determine what's causing her eye problems, and likely will prescribe eye irrigations and topical antibiotics or antibiotic eyedrops. Oral antibiotics may be necessary as well.
If your cat's cold affects her appetite, try to keep her interested in food by warming some canned food. Chances are, if her eyes are runny, she may not be smelling things as she normally would, making her reluctant to eat. Sometimes a whiff of dinner is all she needs to remind her of what she's missing. If she still resists eating after a day or two, call your vet; adequate nutrition and calorie intake are critical to her good health.