Teary Eyes After A Cold? Your Cat May Have Conjunctivitis

Cats who develop upper respiratory infections may exhibit signs of sneezing, coughing, or wheezing. While cats can often recover from these illnesses with a little time, there's a secondary problem that can come from these infections that isn't so easy for their immune system to beat. If your cat's eyes appear teary or are leaking discharge during or following their respiratory infection, this guide will tell you what you need to know.

Viral Conjunctivitis

Did you know that the dreaded and icky illness pink eye is often caused by upper respiratory infections in humans? It turns out that cats are also susceptible to this unfortunate side effect of upper respiratory infections, otherwise known as the common cold.

The virus that causes upper respiratory infections can spread to a cat's eye if the infection is severe enough. A cat may accidentally spread the infected discharge from their nose to their eyes, or the virus may travel through the sinuses into the tear ducts. When this happens, the virus morphs into viral conjunctivitis, which is often called pink eye. Unfortunately, cats generally have a hard time beating conjunctivitis on their own.

If you've ever had pink eye, you know how easily transmittable it is, and that touching your eyes can start the infection all over again. This is where cats' natural instincts work against them when they're struggling with this illness. Since cats groom themselves as part of their natural cleaning process, they are particularly susceptible to reintroducing the infected pus into their eyes, or even rubbing it into their sinuses, which can start the respiratory infection all over again.


Thankfully, with treatment, cats can overcome viral conjunctivitis very easily. A veterinarian will most likely give you either eye drops or an eye ointment that you will need to apply to your cat's eyes multiple times per day. These medications are anti-virals, which function like antibiotics do, but attack viruses instead of bacteria. The medication will help to start killing off the virus right away, and will also help to bring down inflammation and irritation in your cat's eyes.

Feline viral conjunctivitis is difficult for a cat to beat on their own, but thankfully it can be easily treated with a little help from a veterinarian like one from Chester Valley Veterinary Hospital. If you notice your cat's eyes seem like they're tearing up or are inflamed following a cold or upper respiratory infection, take them to a vet for treatment as soon as possible.