Conjunctivitis in Cats

Eye discharge is fairly common in cats.  It can have many different causes, from allergies to tear duct issues.  But if a cat has gunky discharge accompanied by redness, it's a safe bet she has conjunctivitis (AKA pink eye).  Holly M. writes:

My cat Lita, who is a little over a year old, has never had any problems until now. I woke up one morning to find that her eye had green/yellow discharge coming out of it and her eye looked a little pink. I took her to a pet hospital and they did tests and diagnosed her with conjunctivitis. The gave us an ointment and a cone to keep on her for 10 days. After 10 days, the eye was looking great and we were told we could stop the ointment and take her cone off. Two days go by and she’s fine, but by the 3rd day her eye started getting gunk in it and it was pink again. She also is not opening her eye all the way either. I’m worried that the diagnosis was wrong and there is something else going on. I just need help trying to figure out whatever this is.

Holly, it sounds like a good diagnosis, especially since you saw immediate results from the prescribed medication.  Sometimes conjunctivitis can be difficult to eliminate completely.  Conjuctivitis just means that Lita has an infection of the eye's surface which is called the conjunctiva.  The cause can be a physical irritant, a bacteria or a virus. 

If Lita's conjunctivitis was caused by feline herpesvirustype 1, it can be particularly hard to get rid of.  The virus can go into remission only to spring back into action later.  To know if FHV-1 is the culprit, your veterinarian will need to take a culture from Lita's eye for analysis.  If the topical treatment Lita was prescribed won't work long-term, she may need to be put on an anti-viral medication, but there's no need to jump to that conclusion just yet.

Talk to your veterinarian.  Chances are she or he has seen this many times before.  We feel certain you'll be able to get this little problem under control.  We wish you and Lita all the best!