(Question From A Reader)
My cat has had a bad eye now for at least 2 days. The second eye lid that they have in their eyes (note by Dr. this is actually called the 3rd eyelid) that is white in colour has started to move its' way across her eye. Also, her eye is kind of puffy and is watering constantly. She hasn't eaten or been drinking much of anything. What could this possibly be? I am wondering whether to take her to the vet's or just bathe it in salt water to see if that helps? What could it be and what should I do?
You should take your kitty to the vet right away. Eyes can't be replaced and are obviously so important. Remember, your cat only has two eyes, just as you and I do, and losing one can be catastrophic. Also, what happens to one can often spread to the other and totally losing eye sight when it can be prevented is very sad and not fair to cats.
Also of great concern is the lack of appetite and thirst you are seeing in your cat. These cat illness symptoms can be very detrimental, and often indicate that something very serious is going on. Even if it's "just a virus" and is temporary and will resolve, the dehydration that can occur just from a day or so of decreased food and water can lead to a more severe illness, even a life-threatening one.
Never treat an eye condition by yourself. Always consult a vet before you medicate your cat in any way. Without knowing what is going on in the eye, your home treatment could make it much worse. I would definitely not put salt water in the eye. That could be very irritating and even cause ulcerations.
The photo above illustrates what can happen to an eye that is left untreated or treated in the wrong way. This cat now cannot see out of that eye. It is completely "white". That is not a reflection you're looking at. It is scar tissue.
This type of scar tissue can occur when an infection in the eye is not treated in time or is treated in the wrong way. It's just not worth it to take a chance like that.
The symptoms your cat demonstrates, the eye abnormality and the loss of appetite, often go together to indicate an upper respiratory infection. While that is most often a virus and antibiotics don't kill viruses, cats can be very prone to developing secondary bacterial infections that may need antibiotics. And again, the lack of nutrition and the dehydration that can occur can be very dangerous all by themselves.
I sincerely hope everything turns out fine for you and your kitty.