Have you ever noticed your cat looking at you in a weird way? Cats can be very expressive! However, if your cat is looking at you with one eye closed, she could have something wrong with her eye.
Some cats do squint with one eye, but this usually indicates an eye problem. So, if your cat is all of a sudden squinting at you with one eye closed, then it’s time to get her eye checked by a vet.
In this article, we’ll review the anatomy of a cat’s eyes and the problems that could be causing your fur baby to squint with one eye closed. Let’s get started!
Cat Eye Anatomy
Cat’s eyes are beautiful and can come in a wide range of colors. While their eyes look somewhat like our eyes, cats’ eyes have a slightly different anatomy than human eyes.
We’ll start with the cat’s pupil, which is the black area of the cat’s eyes. The pupil is found at the center of the eye and has a slit shape in cats. Our pupils are round, by comparison. In the dark, the pupil will open wide, and in the bright light, the pupil goes back to being a slit once again.
If your cat’s pupils are always large, even in bright light, then this can be an indication of eye problems.
The iris is the colored part of the eye, which is around the pupil. We have an iris, just as cats do. However, cat irises can come in a wider range of colors than ours. Normal cat eye colors can include shades of orange, green, blue, and yellow.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon to see small blood vessels in the cat’s iris. However, if the iris changes color and/or the blood vessels become enlarged, then this can be a sign of eye trouble.
The Cat’s Cornea
The cornea is a transparent “dome” that sits over the eye’s surface. The cornea is not visible or easy to see in cats. However, if a cat has an eye issue or injury, the iris is easier to see. What’s more, a cat’s iris can become cloudy or bluish color. Blood vessels may also be seen on the surface of the cornea. These are all signs of possible eye problems.
Sclera & Conjunctiva
Next, a cat’s eyes contain a white edge around the eye, which is called sclera. If the sclera changes colors or you see more blood vessels in this part of the eye, your kitty should see the vet.
Cat’s, like us, also have pink membranes that surround the eye. These are called the conjunctiva. If the conjunctiva turns bright red and becomes swollen, these are indications the cat may have an eye problem.
Cats also have eyelids, just like other animals and we do. But cats have three eyelids to our one! The first two eyelids are the upper and lower lids. The third eyelid is a membrane that helps protect the entire eye. It can become pink, causing a sore eye.
Now that you can recognize the parts of your cat’s eyes, you’re ready to learn what may cause a squinty eye in cats!
What Causes a Cat to Squint One Eye?
When it comes to the eyes, there are many things that can cause a cat to squint one eye. But it’s safe that in the majority of cases, your kitty is having a problem with her eye. Whether it’s a simple eye irritation, a bacterial infection, or something much more serious (such as feline herpes virus!), a good cat owner would want to immediately figure out what’s wrong with their feline friend so it can be treated immediately.
So, if you’re asking to yourself, “why is my cat squinting her eye so much?” then don’t worry—we’re here to help! Let’s take a look at some of the issues that may cause a cat to keep one eye open and the other closed.
1). Cat Eye Infection
An eye infection is quite a common problem in cats. They can definitely cause a kitty to squint one eye. The infections can be bacterial or viral; however, it’s possible for a cat to have both types of infections at the same time! Ouch!
Eye infections can be caught from other cats or can be brought into the house on your shoes, the groceries from the store, and more. An infection can also develop after a fight with another cat or animal. You may notice these symptoms if your cat has an eye infection:
- Eye discharge (may be runny or sticky)
- Third eyelid may cover part of the eye
- Gunky eyes (a crusty discharge)
- Colored discharge (may be green, white, or even yellow)
Entropion is a very specific problem cats can have with their eyelids. This condition can cause the lower (or upper) eyelid to roll inwards. When the eyelid rolls inwards, your cat’s fur can rub the eye, which can be painful. This rubbing can also cause damage to the eye, lead to infections, and more. Entropion is a condition that can affect cats of just about any age.
This condition causes sore eyes in cats. You may notice these symptoms if your cat has developed entropion:
- Pain causes the cat to keep her eyes shut
- Discharge from the eye (may be clear/runny/thick/yellow or green)
- The eye may swell quite a bit
If your cat is showing these symptoms, then call the vet as soon as possible. This is a very painful condition, which may require surgery to keep the eyelid from rolling inwards.
Uveitis is a painful type of eye inflammation on the inside of the eye, between the iris and the cornea. The cat’s eye may look hazy or cloudy. In addition, the lower part of the eye may be filled with sediment that’s red (indicates bleeding) or yellow/white (indicating an infection).
Uveitis is caused by an illness in another part of the body, such as:
- Auto immune disorder
- Severe infection
- High blood pressure
- Blunt force trauma to the eye
If your fur baby is showing any of these symptoms, it’s best to have her checked by the vet immediately.
Trauma to the eye may also cause a cat to squint with one eye. This may happen after fighting with another cat or animal, running into something, and more.
If your cat has some type of eye trauma, you may notice these symptoms:
- Clear, runny discharge from the eye
- Mucus that’s thick and colored yellow/green
- Redness and swelling around the eye
- Your fur baby’s third eyelid may be showing
Here, again, if your cat is showing any of these symptoms and her eye seems to be damaged, then it’s best to call the vet right away. Your kitty’s eye needs to be treated before infection sets in. And eye trauma can even lead to blindness if left untreated.
5). Foreign Body in the Eye
Another common eye problem in cats is a foreign body in the eye. The name of this condition may sound a bit funny; however, the condition is anything but amusing. A foreign body in the eye could make a cat squint with one eye.
Foreign bodies in the eye can be almost anything, including grass pieces, dirt, debris of some kind, thorns, even your cat’s claw! You may be able to see the foreign object; however, it’s possible the foreign body is under her eyelids.
If your cat has a foreign body in her eye, you may notice these symptoms:
- Your cat’s eye seems to be painful
- She may not want to open her eye
- Swelling around the eye
- Her third eyelid may be showing, even covering part of her eye
- Excessive tear production of the eyes
- Mucus, that’s thick and sticky (indicates an infection)
If you believe your cat could have a foreign body in her eye, then this should be considered an emergency. You need to call the vet immediately. Your cat needs relief from the pain and treatment to remove the foreign object. Left untreated, this condition can lead to permanent eye damage and even blindness.
Glaucoma may develop if excess fluid builds up in the eye, which leads to increased eye pressure. This is a very serious condition, which can lead to blindness if left untreated. There are many reasons for glaucoma. Some of them are include a long-term eye injury, anatomical abnormalities, an increase in intraocular pressure, eye tumors, or just tearing on the lens.
You may notice these symptoms if your cat has developed glaucoma:
- Painful eye(s)
- Rubbing her eyes
- Wanting to be alone
- Eye appears cloudy
- Red and/or watery eyes
- Eyeball appears to be swollen
If you think your cat may have glaucoma, don’t freak out just yet! The good news is that Glaucoma is a treatable disease. If your cat has this condition, then the vet may prescribe medication to lower the pressure in your cat’s eye(s). In some more severe cases, however, it may be necessary to remove the eye.
Cataracts are often found in older cats. However, they can also be caused by diabetes or inflammation of the eye. Your cat may develop a cloudy area on the lens of her eye. This cloudy spot blocks light from entering the eye, which causes loss of vision and even blindness.
You may notice these symptoms if your cat has developed cataracts:
- Cloudiness in eyes (looks like a milky spot)
- Cat may be bumping into things
- Cat may move slowly (especially in dim areas)
If you notice these symptoms in your cat, she must see the vet ASAP. Your fur baby may require surgery to remove the cataract(s), which may sometimes help to restore her vision.
Other Common Eye Problems in Cats
There are additional common eye problems in cats that can cause a squinting eye. For instance, a cat with a corneal ulcer may only use one eye. A corneal ulcer can be caused by an eye injury or even a genetic abnormality. The problem can also be caused by an untreated eye infection. This condition needs to be treated ASAP. You may notice your cat’s eye appears cloud, which is accompanied by redness and pain. Your kitty may also rub her eye.
Conjunctivitis is a common problem in cats (just like it is for us!). This condition is also called “pink eye.” Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the mucus membranes around the eye. It can be caused by a foreign body in the eye, allergies, an infection, and more. You may notice that your cat has runny eyes, and that they seem to be red and swelling. This is a condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible.
Aside from eye-related issues, there’s also the possibility that your cat is squinting their eyes due to issues elsewhere around their body. For one, maybe they’re suffering an upper respiratory infection. See if they seem to also sneeze and expel nasal discharge on top of squinting their eyes. If they are, they might just be going through a cold!
Finally, it is also possible that your cat is squinting their eyes because they’re having an allergic reaction. Allergies are a common problem that affects cats. When cats experience allergic reactions, clear fluid will pour from their tear ducts. This is their body’s attempt to try and flush out any irritation that they may have.
The allergens that usually make up for common causes of these reactions include perfume, mold, pollen, or the chemicals from cleaning products.
The surefire way to prevent this reaction is to keep them away from whatever’s triggering their allergies. If you’re not sure what that may be, though, your best bet is taking them to the vet so they can be fully examined.
Treatment for Cat Eye Problems
Anytime you see something wrong with your cat’s eyes, for instance, if she’s squinting with one eye, then it’s best to call the vet. Only the vet can make the correct diagnosis and determine the best treatment for your fur baby’s eye problem. What’s more, the longer her condition is left untreated, there’s an increased chance the condition could become even worse. In some instances, as noted earlier, untreated eye conditions can even lead to blindness or the loss of a cat’s eye.
Some of the eye problems listed above can be treated with antibiotic eye drops. Other conditions may require more in-depth treatment to heal and correct the problem. Remember that entropion may require surgery in some cases.
Other Ways to Help Your Cat’s Eye Problem
After you’ve seen the vet and they’ve made the right diagnosis, the vet may also provide some advice on other ways you can help your cat’s eye.
For instance, for sore, weeping eyes, you can boil some water and pour it into a dish to cool. Once the water has cooled down, dip a clean piece of cotton into the water and then gently use this to wipe around your kitty’s eyes.
This helps to remove any gunky discharge and makes the eye feel a little more comfortable. However, this will not cure the problem.
If your fur baby has a minor eye injury, it’s possible the problem might heal on its own. However, it’s very difficult to tell if the injury or problem is serious or not. If your cat is squinting one eye, then there’s a problem. She’s in pain and needs to be seen by the vet. You never want your fur baby to suffer. What’s more, the vet can treat your cat’s eyes to help her heal and feel better.
Finally, no matter whether your cat is showing any signs of eye problems, proper cat eye care can help prevent those problems from developing. When you keep your cat up-to-date on vaccinations, keeping them indoors, eating high-quality meat-based cat food, and limiting their exposure to strange cats who might be contagious, you can definitively help protect your cat’s eyes, keep your cat’s vision healthy, plus maintain their health in general!
Summing It Up
Any time you notice your cat squinting with one eye, this is usually an indication that she’s got an eye problem. This means it’s time to call the vet. Only the DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) can make the right diagnosis and determine the treatment that can help your fur baby feel better! Soon, she’ll be looking at you with both eyes open again!
JulieJulie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.
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