The most striking feature on just about any cat is the eyes. The eyes of a healthy cat should be clear and bright. Sometimes, your cat’s eyes may get runny or weepy and a crust may form. If this crust is allowed to remain, it could block the tear ducts and become a infected. Consequently, it is important to know the proper way to clean your cat’s eyes in order to keep them healthy and infection-free.
What You Will Need
- Soft washcloth
- Distilled water
- Cotton balls
- Table salt
- 2 clean cups
- Large bath towel
The Cleaning Process
- Although your cat is very fastidious about personal grooming, he made need a little help around the eyes. Once every couple of days, dampen a soft washcloth with distilled water (room temperature), and gently wipe your cat’s eyes. This is especially helpful for breeds prone to “tear staining” (such as Persians), and may be done daily to help reduce the problem.
- If your cat’s eyes become encrusted (i.e. coated on the lids or in the corners with a hard, crumbly crust), a more thorough cleaning is in order.
- Bring one cup of distilled water to a boil and add a scant teaspoon of table salt. (A scant teaspoon means a teaspoon that is not quite full.) Continue boiling until all the salt is completely dissolved, then remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
- When the mixture is cooled, bring it to your table (or whatever area you plan to work with your cat), and divide it evenly between the two cups, and set them next to the cotton balls (allow at least three cotton balls per eye).
- Find your cat, pick him up, and swaddle him in the large bath towel. This way, he will be easier to hold while you are cleaning his eyes, and will be less likely to scratch you while you are doing it. If your cat is prone to biting, you may want to wear a pair of gloves while doing this. When you swaddle your cat, make sure his legs are in a natural, comfortable position, and are not twisted or caught in an awkward position.
- Working with one eye at a time, dip a cotton ball in the salt water solution, and gently wipe at the encrusted area of your cat’s eye.
- Continue working on that one eye, using fresh cotton balls as needed, until the crust has been removed.
- When starting the second eye, make sure to use a new cotton ball and the unused cup of salt water solution. Otherwise, if there is the start of an infection and you use the same cotton balls or salt solution on both eyes, you run the risk of cross-infection.
- Again, for the second eye, dip a fresh cotton ball into the unused batch of salt solution, and gently wipe the encrusted area of the eyes, repeating until the crust is gone (using fresh cotton balls as needed).
- When all the crust has been cleared, set your cat free, and don’t forget to give him lots of love and a few treats for being so patient.
- Discard all soiled cotton balls and used salt solution, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Check your cat’s eyes daily for any signs of encrusting, and if they become encrusted again, repeat the above steps as needed.
Additional Tips and Advice
- If your cat’s eyes appear red or swollen, if there is a greenish or puss-like discharge, or if the crust keeps reappearing despite your best efforts to keep the eyes clean, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible as these may be it may signs of an infection or other eye problem (such as feline conjunctivitis or feline pink eye). For more information on feline eye infections and other feline health related issues, visit the Internet Cat Club online.
- Similarly, if your cat’s third eyelid (the extra white eyelid underneath the upper and lower eyelids), starts showing constantly, or your cat appears to be squinting, contact your veterinarian as it may the sign of a serious eye problem.
- If you have a long-haired cat, try to keep the hair trimmed away from the eyes as a cat’s cornea (the clear membrane covering the eye) can be easily scratched by foreign objects, including their own hair.
- It is always recommended that there be at least two people when working with a cat. Even if your cat is the most tolerant, well-behaved creature on earth, cats are unpredictable and impulsive by nature, and problems can certainly arise. In that event, it’s best to have someone readily available to lend a hand.
- Most pet stores sell eye washes specially designed for cats (i.e. Tomlyn OptiClear Eyewash available at PetSmart or Petco; also, Halo Herbal Eyewash for Pets, available online at The Cat Connection) These may be helpful in keeping your cat’s eyes clean and mucus free on a regular basis, but be sure to read and follow all directions, and to discontinue use and seek the advice of a veterinarian if there are any signs of infection or allergic reaction.
- When in doubt, never hesitate to seek the advice of a veterinarian. For help finding a qualified veterinarian in your area, contact your local Chamber of Commerce, or visit the Yellow Pages. Scoop Away also maintains a very useful vet search engine, where you can find a vet in your area by entering your zip code