Gerry was surprised when he got home from work and noted that his female cat, Fluffy, wasn’t in her usual spot, curled up in the bay window. When the cat avoided the window for three days, Gerry decided to take a closer look. Every time he carried her into bright light, Fluffy squinted. The vet diagnosed the problem as anterior uveitis in cats.
According to PetPlace.com, anterior uveitis in cats is an inflammation that affects the front portion of the eye, known as the uvea. This is the dark part of the cat’s eye that contains blood vessels. In most cases, the cat’s iris is also affected.
Veterinarians recognize a number of causes of this disorder. Among the most common are autoimmune diseases or conditions. Infections linked to viruses, fungi, bacteria, protozoa or parasites are also frequent culprits. Other potential causes include tumors, cancer, eye trauma or injury or metabolic disease somewhere else in the cat. Some pets with cataracts also develop this condition when lens protein enters the fluid of the eye. However, in some animals, there is no identified cause.
The viruses most often responsible for feline anterior uveitis are those associated with feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency and feline infectious peritonitis. Among parasites, the protozoan toxoplasmosis is a common cause.
Signs and Symptoms
PetMD.com reports a range of symptoms associated with anterior uveitis in cats. The most frequent include pain, redness, excessive tearing and squinting, particularly in bright light. In some cats, the pupil is small or has an uneven shape.
Owners might notice a swelling of the cat’s eyeball. The front of the eye sometimes has a cloudy or dull appearance. The color of the eye’s iris might look somehow “off” from the cat’s normal appearance. For example, a yellow-green iris might in a cat with this disorder might look red or have brownish areas.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Vets generally rely upon a number of tests to diagnose anterior uveitis in cats. After a complete history and physical exam, a vet looks at the cat’s eye with an instrument known as an ophthalmoscope. Part of the exam includes measuring the internal pressure of the eye, a test known as tonometry. Blood tests like a complete blood count and a serum biochemical profile can reveal information about the cat’s general health.
The vet might also opt to order specific blood tests for infectious agents, immune issues or systemic diseases. In some cases, he or she will also want to evaluate ultrasound results, X-rays or samples of fluid aspirated from the eye.
Treatment for anterior uveitis in cats involves two approaches. The first is to relieve any pain. The second is to eliminate the problem causing the discomfort. Both medical and surgical treatment might be necessary to save the cat’s sight.
Topical treatments like drops or ointments are designed to cut pain and inflammation. Certain oral medications also accomplish this.
If the vet has determined a specific cause of the uveitis, he or she will prescribe the necessary medication, such as an anti-fungal drug. Surgery is the standard treatment when the cause is a tumor or if there are associated complications like glaucoma that medications have been unable to control. Removal of the eye might be necessary for some cats.
Home care is an important part of treatment for anterior uveitis in cats. Owners who have never been able to medicate a cat’s eye should ask for training from the veterinary staff. It’s also important to examine the cat every day to spot any changes and notify the vet if any occur. In addition to arriving for any scheduled follow-up appointments, owners should consider keeping their cats indoors to avoid exposure to infectious diseases responsible for this disorder.