Our cats’ eyes are expressive and beautiful. So it is distressing when you see your cat holding one eye shut, blinking repeatedly, or rubbing the affected eye obsessively with its paw.
Eye trauma can be serious, and without early intervention, can worsen quickly. Such is the case especially if kitty can’t stop rubbing and scratching the eye. This does not mean you need to automatically panic. The cause could be just a tiny piece of hair that you can wash off easily. Here are some steps you can do at home if you see your cat squinting.
You should always have artificial tears in your cat first aid box. I use Tears Naturale, the individually packed disposable vials. I find that these are more hygienic and last longer than the regular bottles, which need to be thrown away three months after being opened. In my experience, Tears Naturale is soothing and does not hurt the inflammed eye. You can look out for other brands of artificial tears which are available to you. Just remember to check the ingredients because you’d want the drops to be as pure as possible and preservative free.
I will be honest. Putting eye drops in your cat’s eye will seem complicated at first. On Youtube, you can find many videos on how to put eye drops in cats. The traditional method is to have the cat sitting comfortably on a table, and the cat owner will need to administer the drops from behind the cat so that it does not see the eye drop bottle. If that method works for you, then brilliant! You have a very submissive cat! On the Internet, you will find other methods for challenging cats. Such as the towel-burrito method, where your cat is bound tightly in a towel.
My advice will be to use whichever method works best for your cat. In my case, my cat absolutely did not liked being surprised in the back when I tried to give him the eye drops in the traditional vet-prescribed manner detailed above. Perhaps I was not quick enough. The towel-burrito did not work too. It just led to tears and frustration on both sides.
Although you may read online that you should never administer the eye drops with your cat facing you, in my case, I found that this was the method that worked best for me and my cat. I would first take my cat to a quiet room and close the door so that there were no distractions from my other cats. I would then cradle my cat in my arms like a baby, use my fingers to pull back his eyelid and quickly release the eye drops into the eye. Treats and kisses will follow, and all is forgiven. I have tried this technique on two cats successfully.
I guess what is most important for the technique to work is:
1. Trust. Your cat needs to trust you, and understand that you are not trying to harm him.
2. Confidence. You need to be fast in cradling your cat, pulling back the eyelids and releasing the eye drop into the eye. Any hesistation will result in your cat struggling.
Administering eye drops is not pleasant. But try not to show your cat that you are stressed, because animals can read our emotions. You can also easily associate the eye drops in their minds as a good thing if you have treats on hand to give out right after each session. When my cat needed eye drops for half a year, he was so used to the twice daily sessions that he would walk with me to the room and sit there waiting for his eye drops and treats. Remember that cats do not bear grudges. A few pieces of treats or a good meal, and you’ll be your cat’s hero once again.
This is critical if your cat is rubbing its eye constantly. With a cone collar on, your cat cannot rub its eye, so whatever trauma cannot worsen. A few hours of inconvenience and misery for your cat while it’s wearing the cone collar can prevent weeks of antibiotic treatment if your cat manages to scratch an ulcer. So here is where tough love is very important. Wearing a cone collar need not be painful. Invest in a soft cone collar so that your cat has better freedom of movement as compared to a hard cone.
My cone of choice is the Kong EZ Soft Collar, which you can see in the photo. It’s washable, lightweight and comfortable. This cone collar is made for both cats and dogs, and come in three sizes. Most cats should be able to fit S or M size. If, after a day or two, your cat is still unable to fully open its eye, or the eye looks worse, please bring your cat to the vet.