Cat eye drops come in two general varieties. Some are prescribed by a veterinarian and contain specific medication to treat particular problems. A second broad category of cat eye drops consists of products that are available without a prescription, which are used to treat certain minor conditions or to clean and soothe a cat’s eyes. Some natural or homeopathic eye drops are also available for cats and may help in treating certain conditions.
A number of different ailments can afflict the eyes of cats. Bacterial infections are quite common and can cause eyes to become red and puffy. A veterinarian will often prescribe antibiotic cat eye drops to treat this type of condition. If used correctly, these eye drops should eliminate a bacterial infection over the course of a little more than a week.
Cats can become infected with viruses and other parasites in addition to bacteria. In some cases, such as when dealing with the feline herpes virus that is common among housecats, eye drops may be used to aid in removing crusts from the eyes but are not able to directly treat the underlying condition. In other cases, such as when treating parasitic infections, medical eye drops may be available.
Many stores sell over the counter eye drops for cats. These eye drops serve primarily to irrigate and soothe eyes that may be irritated from allergies or from minor trauma. Cat owners should consult with a veterinarian before employing these treatments to make sure that the use of such cat eye drops is appropriate.
Natural medicines and supplements are available for cats just as for humans, and eye drops based on natural substances are marketed widely. These eye drops should be evaluated based on the specific ingredients that they contain. If unsure about the properties of a specific substance, a cat owner should consult with a trained veterinarian in order to err on the side of caution, as the natural substances in these supplements are subject to much less regulation than are medical drugs but can have very powerful effects on a cat.
In some cases, a veterinarian may prescribe a mild ointment in place of cat eye drops. This is done because an ointment will typically transfer a larger dose of medicine and require less-frequent application. This may be a preferable option in some cases because not all cats tolerate the application of eye drops well, and the frequent administration of drops can be traumatic for a sick animal.