September 26, 2023


The Pet Expert

Unpacking Keratitis In Cats (Eosinophilic, Ulcerative, and Non-Ulcerative)

10 min read

Keratitis in Felines 

Keratitis in cats is a standard eye illness the place the cornea turns into infected. Cat eye keratitis can, because the identify suggests, have an effect on a cat’s imaginative and prescient and make them quickly blind. Nonetheless, fortunately it’s, normally, simply handled, though surgical procedure is critical in some instances.  

However how do you see basic cat eye keratitis, and what’s the greatest therapy for keratitis in cats? Hold studying to seek out out!  

Cats eyes

The Completely different Varieties of Feline Keratitis

Cat keratitis is sort of a painful inflammatory eye illness that impacts the cornea – the outer floor layer of the attention. The corneal layer consists of three layers of cells: the corneal epithelium, the corneal stroma, and the corneal endothelium. 

Normally, these layers are clear, however when the keratitis cat eyes begin showing, the layer can grow to be clouded, limiting the cat’s imaginative and prescient. 

Feline keratitis can have an effect on cats of all ages and breeds, and so many potential causes make it troublesome to stop. 

Relying on the reason for the irritation, feline keratitis clinicians break up keratitis into three sorts: 

  • Ulcerative keratitis. 
  • Non-ulcerative keratitis.
  • Eosinophilic keratitis. 

Typically feline keratitis happens along with conjunctivitis – irritation of the inside eye layer. It’s, nonetheless, solely typically the case. Conjunctivitis can happen independently of keratitis and vice versa. Learn our article and discover out about Conjunctivitis in Canines.

Feline Eosinophilic Keratitis

What’s it?

Eosinophilic keratitis in cats is a continual irritation of the cornea the place eosinophils (a sort of white blood cell) invade the cornea. Usually, the infiltration of eosinophils will give the eyes a white or pink, chalky look. In some instances, it could possibly additionally unfold to the underside of the eyelids or the conjunctival membrane! 

Eosinophils are a part of the immune system and sometimes seem as a response to allergic reactions when parasites infiltrate the physique. 

However why do the eosinophils then infiltrate the attention with none parasites current? The brief reply is that we don’t know but! 

Medical indicators/signs

The attribute pink lesions on the attention are sometimes the very first thing cat homeowners discover. These modifications might seem in a single eye (unilateral) or each (bilateral). Lesions typically seem on the fringe of the cornea first. Afterward, they unfold throughout the attention. 

The eyelid may additionally grow to be infected and thicken as a response to the situation, however it doesn’t seem in all instances. As with different sorts of keratitis, squinting is prone to happen attributable to irritation, and the cat may additionally show indicators of ache. Affected cats additionally typically develop a thick discharge. 


Prognosis is commonly potential on medical indicators alone. The ultimate analysis requires corneal cytology, the place a small pattern of the attention floor is taken and positioned underneath a microscope to evaluate the eosinophils’ presence. 


The perfect therapy of eosinophilic keratitis in cats is topical steroids or, in extreme instances, oral or injectable steroids. If a cornea ulcer is already current, this can want therapy earlier than beginning steroid therapy. 

Some veterinarians recommend utilizing surgical strategies to take away irregular tissue from the cornea in extreme instances. Nonetheless, no medical research at present help utilizing surgical procedure to handle eosinophilic keratitis. 

Checkups following therapy are sometimes crucial to watch how the cat responds to the remedy and alter the therapy plan if wanted. More than likely, your cat will want lifelong therapy because the situation is continual. 


The precise etiology (trigger) of eosinophilic keratitis remains to be unknown. Nonetheless, researchers have found that the majority cats affected by the situation are additionally optimistic for the feline herpes virus. The herpes virus might due to this fact play a but undiscovered position. 

It’s most typical in youthful cats under the age of 5, and a few anecdotal proof suggests it’s seen extra ceaselessly in neutered males. 


Eosinophilic keratitis is a continual situation, which means cats will want life-long therapy and checkups to handle the situation. It’s also probably {that a} lapse in therapy will result in the worsening of the situation. Nonetheless, with the proper therapy, it’s, normally, potential to make sure a great high quality of life and sufficient imaginative and prescient. 

Ulcerative Keratitis in Cats

What’s it?

Ulcerative keratitis is most frequently related to the floor layer of the cornea – the corneal epithelium the place it causes an erosion of the floor. It will probably progress deeper into the corneal tissue if not handled, inflicting a corneal ulcer. The tendency to develop tissues is the place this kind of keratitis will get its identify from.  

Medical indicators/signs

Signs related to this kind of keratitis depend upon the trigger and the way lengthy the cat has suffered from the keratitis. Early signs are sometimes simple to overlook as these mostly embody elevated tear manufacturing, squinting, and eye rubbing. Some cats may additionally be extra susceptible to keep away from mild or blinking extra.

Discharge from the eyes can be typically current. The ocular discharge will typically be both inexperienced or white in shade and might fluctuate in quantity. 

You’d additionally anticipate that tissue areas across the eyes will grow to be purple or swollen. If the keratitis has been there for a protracted whereas, blood vessels inside the eye may additionally seem extra clearly. Ultimately, homeowners might even be capable of see the hazy cornea. 


The situation is commonly identified based mostly on historical past and medical signs. In lots of instances, a veterinarian may additionally carry out a fluorescein eye coloring. If the corneal epithelium is broken, the fluorescein shade will follow the underlying cells and seem macroscopically as a glowing inexperienced the place the trauma is. However don’t fear; the inexperienced shade will disappear once more!


Therapy relies on the trigger and severity of the situation. If the situation responds to underlying illness, your veterinarian will deal with this primarily. Usually, surgical procedure just isn’t crucial. 

Your veterinarian is prone to prescribe eye drops, with or with out antibiotics. Usually, it’s going to even be crucial for the cat to put on a cone or e-collar to stop additional tissue injury. 

Surgical procedure might typically be essential to take away broken and unfastened cells from the attention’s floor. This process is, after all, accomplished underneath basic anesthesia. Eradicating the cells could also be sufficient, however typically, your cat might have a contact lens positioned for a few weeks to make sure correct therapeutic. 


A number of issues can result in ulcerative keratitis. A few of these embody traumatic accidents of the attention, illness within the tear-producing glands, irregular tear manufacturing, or main illness of the cornea. 

Nonetheless, it can be a response to an infectious illness, such because the feline herpes virus. That is also referred to as cat herpes keratitis. 


If the corneal ulcer is just superficial, the attention drops and relaxation will, normally, be sufficient. Continued checkups with fluorescein dying shall be crucial to substantiate that the therapeutic course of is progressing. 

The prognosis is extra guarded if surgical procedure is critical, however most cats ought to get better in time. 

Stopping recurring ulcerative keratitis in cats just isn’t fully potential, however making use of lubricating eye drops may also help some cats. 

Cat eyes

Feline Non-Ulcerative Keratitis

What’s it?

Non-ulcerative keratitis remains to be irritation of the cornea, however not like the ulcerative sort, no fluorescein stain will seem on the attention as there is no such thing as a ulcer. There are various kinds of non-ulcerative keratitis.

One of many sorts is when the cornea and the sclera come collectively attributable to superficial irritation. One other sort is the place a part of the corneal tissue dies. The fluid build-up is prone to happen when the tissue dies, and pigmented lesions might seem. 

Superficial irritation can happen at any age, however the danger is greater in cats aged 4 to seven. The opposite sort can happen at any age however tends to be extra prevalent in sure cat breeds, together with Persians, Siamese, and Burmese cats. 

Medical indicators/signs

Medical signs additionally depend upon what sort it’s and what the trigger is. With irritation of the cornea, it could possibly get infiltrated by eosinophils (simply with out an ulcer) and seem as white or pink chalky areas within the eye. Usually this solely impacts one eye. 

When herpesvirus is the first trigger, it typically includes stroma. Right here each or one eye is affected. The primary symptom is commonly fluid build-up. 

When a part of the cornea tissue dies, it often includes only one eye however can contain each. Right here the primary symptom will typically be amber, brown, or black plaques close to the middle of the cornea. The tissue may additionally seem thickened, and blood vessels can grow to be seen. 

With all sorts, it’s prone to see a degree of discoloration of the cornea and ache and eye discomfort.  


Non-ulcerative keratitis is commonly potential to diagnose on medical signs alone, however most will nonetheless carry out a radical bodily and ophthalmologic (eye) examination to make sure every part is roofed. Your veterinarian may additionally take a biopsy of the cornea. 


With non-ulcerative keratitis, the therapy plan can typically be barely totally different in comparison with the opposite sorts of keratitis. If the cat primarily suffers from irritation, radiation or cryotherapy could also be a part of a therapy plan to aim to take away the lifeless tissue. 

Surgical removing could also be healing if the situation primarily takes the type of the cornea tissue dying, however there’s a excessive danger of recidivism in lots of instances. Usually, the necessity for surgical procedure is decided based mostly on whether or not the cat is in important discomfort. 


As already talked about, there are various kinds of non-ulcerative keratitis, which frequently have totally different etiologies. We don’t absolutely perceive why the cornea tissue tends to die in a single sort, however it there’s a suspicion that it’s partly attributable to earlier trauma or long-term corneal irritation. 

Non-ulcerative keratitis may happen because of the herpes virus. Nonetheless, scientists consider that non-ulcerative keratitis is an immune-mediated response to herpesvirus antigen reasonably than a direct impact of the viral an infection. It generally impacts the center layer of the cornea. 


Though some sorts of therapy may be healing, it’s extra probably your cat will undergo from recurring corneal illnesses the place therapy shall be crucial. After therapy, nonetheless, in case your cat stays in remission with little to no medical indicators, fewer checkups could also be required. 

Cat homeowners ought to, nonetheless, pay attention to the danger of cats finally affected by full and everlasting blindness. 


To summarise, there are three sorts of non-ulcerative keratitis. One is because of herpesvirus, the opposite one is irritation of the cornea, and the final one is the place a part of the cornea tissue dies. 


What’s Feline Herpes Virus? 

Feline herpes virus (FHV) is a standard illness amongst cats, with some suggesting as much as 80% of cats have gotten the virus. Most cats get better from the preliminary an infection however proceed to hold and unfold the illness. Some cats could have repeated flare-ups and recurrent signs, a few of them prone to be associated to the eyes. 

Is Feline Keratitis Painful? 

Usually, keratitis is painful attributable to irritation. If ulceration happens, it turns into considerably extra painful and will obtain quick veterinary care. 

The right way to Inform if a Cat is in Ache? 

It may be notoriously tough to inform if a cat is in ache, and it may be close to not possible whether it is an outside cat. Nonetheless, even for those who can’t see the discharge coming from the attention, you’re probably to have the ability to see one or each eyes are partly closed. Maybe it’s also possible to see some redness across the eye and even in it. 

Cats additionally have a tendency to cover when they’re in discomfort. So in case your beforehand sociable cat instantly stays far-off from you, it could be time to offer that kitten an additional checkup! 

How is Feline Keratitis Identified? 

Most veterinarians can diagnose keratitis from medical signs alone, however cytology could also be crucial in some instances to substantiate the analysis. 

What Occurs if Keratitis Goes Untreated? 

Keratitis is, normally, painful, and cats ought to due to this fact obtain therapy. Nonetheless, therapy can be crucial as issues can in any other case happen. Problems can embody irregular progress of blood vessels into the cornea, and secondary bacterial infections, which may result in perforation of the attention and sequestrum improvement. 

Is Feline Keratitis Infectious? 

Feline herpesvirus is infectious. Nonetheless, keratitis isn’t infectious to different cats or people. Nonetheless, secondary bacterial infections or conjunctivitis can infect different cats, and cats ought to due to this fact be in isolation till a veterinarian guidelines out these. 

Are Some Breeds Extra Susceptible to Keratitis? 

No scientific research have discovered any cat breed extra prone to undergo from keratitis than others. Nonetheless, some anecdotal proof does recommend that some breeds are extra susceptible to develop ulcerative keratitis. 

Cute cat with green eyes


Feline keratitis of any sort could cause your cat important discomfort and is one thing all the time to take significantly. Suppose you see any signs just like those talked about above, or do you believe you studied your cat might undergo from keratitis? In that case, it’s time to give your veterinarian a name. 

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