If you’re a cat owner, there will probably come a time when you need to clean one or both of your cat’s eyes.
Depending on whether you’re cleaning regular eye discharge, irrigating the eyes, or even cleaning a wound around the eye area, you may need to use a different cleaning method.
Read on to find out how to clean a cat’s eye in the safest, most efficient and stress-free way possible.
Cleaning Gunk Around Cat’s Eyes
The most common reason cat owners ask how to clean a cat’s eye is because they have noticed some discharge, commonly referred to as ‘gunk’ around one or both of their pet’s eyes.
This is especially common with flat-faced cat breeds such as Persian cats because they have watery eyes.
In other breeds, a small amount of gunk, particularly when they wake up from a nap, is quite normal and not a cause for concern. However, you might want to clean it for the sake of your cat’s comfort.
Simply use a clean cloth or a cotton wool pad and some clean water to gently wipe the gunk from around your cat’s eyes. It’s best to start at the corner of the eye (where most of the discharge will accumulate) and work your way outward.
Ideally, boil the water first and allow it to cool down completely to make sure it’s free from bacteria. When cleaning the eyes, please be careful not to make contact with your cat’s eyeball as this can be both painful and frightening for your pet.
How To Flush A Cat’s Eye
If your cat has something in their eye that is bothering them, or if they’re experiencing eye irritation or allergies, your pet may need to have their eyes flushed.
This is not something you should attempt to do yourself without the advice of your veterinarian. If you suspect that something is irritating your cat’s eyes, you should book them in for a check-up.
Your vet will examine your cat’s eyes and diagnose the problem if possible before prescribing treatment.
If something is stuck in your cat’s eye, your vet might flush out the eye themselves using sterile eye wash.
However, if the source of the irritation is an eye infection, treating the issue will be a longer process.
If you suspect your cat has an eye infection, you must see the vet as soon as possible. Eye infections can progress very fast in cats, leading to severe complications including blindness.
Your vet will be able to diagnose the infection and prescribe antibiotic eye drops.
The best way to apply eye drops to your cat’s eyes is to wrap them in a towel to keep their limbs controlled (understandably, cats don’t love having things squirted in their eyes).
Then, using one hand, you’re going to hold your cat’s head with your thumb on top of their head and your fingers under their chin.
With your other hand, hold the eye drop bottle and use that same hand to gently pull one eyelid upward so that the eye opens. Then, maintaining your grip on the cat, squeeze the bottle slightly so that a single drop falls into the eye. Repeat with the other eye if necessary.
If you have someone to help you, this process is easier because one person can hold the cat steady while the other can use one hand to hold the eye open and the other to administer the drops.
If the infection is severe, you might also need to flush the eyes out using sterile, pet-safe eye wash or saline solution. You would do this using the same method as you do for eye drops.
However, only do this if you have been instructed to do so by your vet and only use eye wash products prescribed by your vet.
If your cat’s eyes are irritated due to allergies, you should see the vet to learn what the best course of treatment is.
Allergies can sometimes be treated using steroids or a regular injection. However, you may also be able to manage the irritation using prescription eye drops. If your vet recommends this, use the eye drop application method described above.
How To Clean A Wound On Cat’s Eye
If you notice a wound on your cat’s eye, the best thing to do is get them straight to the vet. After all, you don’t want an infection developing. If there is an injury to the eyeball itself or if an injury to the eyelid is severe or looks infected, call your vet’s emergency line.
In the above cases, your vet will clean the eye and proceed with treatment based on the severity of the wound. It might require stitches or surgery.
However, if your cat has a very minor graze around their eye that isn’t bleeding or is only bleeding slightly, you may be able to clean it yourself. It’s still a good idea to see the vet, but in the meantime, you can reduce the risk of infection by cleaning the area.
You can use either distilled water, pure saline solution (0.9% concentration) or a mild, pet-safe antiseptic solution to clean the wounded area with a clean cloth.
Don’t use cotton wool since pieces of cotton could get stuck in the wound and make sure not to get any solution in the eye itself.
You may need to repeat the cleaning process two or three times per day. If the wound isn’t healing or seems to be getting infected, see your vet as soon as possible..
Cleaning your cat’s eye can be tricky since cats don’t love this experience, but it may be necessary if your cat has a lot of eye discharge, an eye injury, an infection, or suffers from allergies.
Be careful never to touch your cat’s eyeballs during the cleaning process and if in doubt, always consult your vet before attempting any cleaning or treatment yourself. For infections or eye injuries, seek veterinary advice as a rule.
At Love4Cats, our practice involves consistent collaboration with licensed veterinarians and reputable industry experts. However, it's important to note that the content provided on Excited Cats is not intended as veterinary advice. While we strive to enhance your understanding of feline care, the information presented on this blog should not replace professional veterinary guidance.