Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your cat.

How To Clean Cat Eyes

Cats with normal eye health do not require regular eye cleansing.cat_eyes

Eye cleaning may be advised if the cat has:

  • An eye infection
  • A head conformation with prominent eyes, short muzzle, and domed head (brachycephalic)
  • Scarring or blockage of the tear duct (these normally drain the tears away from the eye)
  • Pigmented tear staining to the fur beneath the eyes

Tips for Feline Eye Cleaning

Here are some tips to help you clean your cat's eyes if your veterinarian recommends it:

  • Your veterinarian will advise you regarding suitable cleaning solutions. Frequently, a sterile, dilute (normal) saline (salt) solution is used (free of preservatives).
  • Make sure you have the cat gently but firmly restrained before cleaning—sudden movement may lead to injury to you or the cat. Wrap a towel around the kitty and have an assistant help if needed. Talk to your veterinarian about how to do this procedure first—you do not want to get scratched or bitten.
  • When cleansing the eyes of cats, it is important to remember not to be overzealous. Let the cat know that the cleaning cotton/gauze/cloth is coming towards the face, so that the eye is closed. An open eye may be scratched, resulting in corneal ulceration, or a hole in the clear eye surface. Come from the side and above, so you don't give the cat the impression there is a head-on attack coming and make him think he is about to be hit in the eye.
  • Be gentle in the pressure you apply to the area around the eye—this is sensitive territory.
  • Apply a sweeping motion with the moistened cloth in a down and outward (away from the nose) direction. Never use an inward motion as this may drive dirt into the eyeball.
  • If there is dermatitis or skin irritation associated with the discharge located at the lower inside corner of the eye (medial canthus), after cleansing, apply a moisture barrier with or without antibiotic (as prescribed) to help protect the sensitive skin from the pooling of eye discharges.
  • Clean the eye before instilling medications, not after.

Steady the head firmly but gently, and then apply the moistened cloth or cotton.

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