Can Cats Get Pink Eye from Humans?

If you’ve recently noticed your cat has a sore-looking eye or they’re rubbing it with their paw, on furniture, or the floor, they may be suffering from cat conjunctivitis. Learn more about this eye disease and what to expect when you visit the veterinarian as you wait for your appointment.

What is Conjunctivitis in Cats?

Cat conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin membrane that forms the eyelids’ inside and protects the white portion of the eye. The conjunctiva will become red and swollen due to the inflammation, and the eye discharge may start. Conjunctivitis in cats may be contagious (caused by viruses or bacteria) or non-infectious (caused by something scratching the eye). Inflammation can occur in either one or both eyes at the same time.

If your cat has conjunctivitis, you can see them pawing at the infected eye or blinking and squinting rapidly to relieve the discomfort. The best thing you can do for a quick recovery is to schedule a visit to the veterinarian.

What Triggers an Infection in a Cat’s Eye?

Viruses can cause infectious cat conjunctivitis, with Feline Herpesvirus being one of the most common. Cat sniffles and sneezes can accompany the appearance of the red or watery eye, as bacteria such as Chlamydophila may cause an eye infection as part of an upper respiratory infection.

In both cases, the cat-eye infection will spread to other cats, so if there are any other cats around, you should minimize their contact with the sick cat. Your veterinarian may want to see all of your cats. After checking on your cat’s eye, make sure to wash your hands and, if possible, keep them in separate areas for affected condition.

What Causes Conjunctivitis in Cats that aren’t Infectious?

Irritations in the cat’s surroundings are the most common cause of non-infectious cat conjunctivitis. Even a speck of dust in your cat’s eye may be enough to set off an allergic reaction. Anything that can irritate the skin, including mould, air fresheners, and even shampoo, can cause eye redness. Other causes include eye damage, such as hitting it on something or contact with some plants, which may cause allergic conjunctivitis.

Understanding what caused your cat’s conjunctivitis will help with recovery, which is why a visit to the vet as soon as possible is suggested.

How is Feline Conjunctivitis identified/diagnosed?

If your cat seems to be in trouble, the vet can first numb the area with anaesthetic eye drops before checking it for foreign bodies, scratches, or wounds. A green dye can be used to expose the eye problem when illuminated with a bright blue light.

Since certain forms of contagious cat conjunctivitis are chronic, with flare-ups daily, your cat’s medical history may help diagnose the symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms

There are two types of this condition: contagious and non-infectious. The Cornell Feline Health Centre suggests watching out for the same signs in both types:

  • A ring of redness around the eye
  • The eye is filled with fluid
  • At the corners, there is a white or yellow discharge
  • Excessive eye watering
  • Squinting or blinking incessantly

Your cat doesn’t need to exhibit any of these symptoms for you to be concerned. It’s time to contact your doctor if your cat’s eye appears to be irritated in any way. Only your veterinarian can determine whether your symptoms are due to conjunctivitis or something else, such as a blocked tear duct. Upper respiratory infections often cause conjunctivitis. You can take your cat to the vet right away if she is sneezing or wheezing and has swollen, watery eyes.

Treatments for Feline Conjunctivitis

Depending on how bad the condition is, the treatment usually involves applying eye drops for a few days or even a couple of weeks. This may be antibiotic eye drops to treat bacterial cat conjunctivitis or relaxing eye drops to speed up the healing process in a non-infectious situation.

Giving a cat an eye drop is often a team effort that necessitates another family member’s involvement. You’ll need to gently open their eyelids and position the eye drops as they hold the cat still with its head slightly tilted upwards. If you need more assistance, the International Pet Care website has some helpful videos about how to inspect a cat’s eye.

Since some cats are calmer than others, you may be able to get away with putting the cat on your lap and administering the medicine with one hand while keeping the eye open with the other. Don’t forget to give your courageous cat hugs and treats when you’re done.

Other potential therapies for cat conjunctivitis include antiviral drugs, antibiotics in pill form, or eye ointments, depending on the underlying cause.

Click here if you want to check the grade of conjunctivitis and the health status of your cat.

Preventing Cat Conjunctivitis


Cat vaccines, especially those for the feline herpes virus, should be kept up to date to reduce cat conjunctivitis risk. Pet flu is a common cause of conjunctivitis in animals, according to the PDSA, so make sure you don’t miss the cat flu vaccine deadline.

During playtime, keep an eye on your cat

Remove any sharp objects that might trigger injuries if your cat is excited while playing or exercising. However, the biggest culprit is usually the cat claws themselves.

Control the anxiety

Recurrent episodes of viral cat conjunctivitis can also be caused by stress. When a cat is stressed, the immune system is usually the first to respond. Since your feline friend’s defenses are weak, battling viruses like feline herpesvirus has become more complex.

Wiping the tears from your cat’s eyes

If you have a young kitten in the house, brushing their eyelashes with a warm cloth to keep dust particles at bay is an intelligent idea.


Cats’ conjunctivitis will come and go. If your cat has pink eye regularly, your veterinarian may need to recommend more aggressive care or check for a severe underlying issue. In the majority of cases, the infection will clear up in a few weeks. Getting treatment as soon as you see signs and following all of your veterinarian’s advice will help your cat resolve conjunctivitis and get back to doing what she loves.

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