How to Treat a Cat That has a Scratched Eye

By: Sheldon Rubin

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Step 3b

Cats are naturally curious and get into many places and things in the household. This means their chances of receiving a scratched eye or eye irritation are high. Some cats also can experience eye irritation from viruses, allergies, dust and dirt, fights, etc. An irritation can lead to a mild inflammation of the tissue around the eye (conjunctivitis) or severe damage to the cornea. Upper respiratory diseases are probably the most common cause of conjunctivitis in cats.

When examining the eye, it is important to know that cats have a third eyelid located in the corner of the eye nearest the nose. This third eyelid can completely cover the eyeball and sometimes gives the appearance that part of the eye is gone. If it is raised and looks red, the eye is inflamed. Do not touch or manipulate this eyelid. All eye irritations should be treated by a veterinarian.


If you are unsure whether your cat has a scratched eye or an eye infection, some of the signs to look for include the cat squinting and rubbing or pawing at its eyes. The eye also will have a thick discharge or redness. If your cat has a scratched eye or an eye irritation, use the following cat care tips:

Step 1: Approach the cat carefully. If your cat is nervous or anxious, restrain the cat if necessary.

Step 2: Flush the eye thoroughly (three or four times) with saline solution or plain water.

Step 3: You should help the cat prevent self-injury to its eye.

Step 3a: Dewclaw should be bandaged on the front paw on the same side as the affected eye.

Step 3b: If the cat is scratching at the eye continuously, cut a large piece of cardboard into an Elizabethan-type collar.

Step 4: Transport the cat to the veterinarian immediately.

©Publications International, Ltd.