Why Is My Cat Keeping One Eye Closed? 5 Eye Problems Explained

When your cat “winks” at you, it’s usually a sign of affection or an attempt to flirt. But if you notice that your cat is keeping one eye closed, it’s a cause for concern. This behavior indicates that your cat is experiencing pain or irritation in the eye. In this article, we will explore the five potential conditions that may cause your cat to keep one eye closed. Additionally, we’ll provide some tips on how to keep your cat’s eyes safe.

The 5 Conditions That May Cause Your Cat To Keep One Eye Closed

1. Eye Infections

Eye infections or conjunctivitis are common eye concerns for cats. If your cat has an eye infection, their eye may become red, irritated, and swollen, leading them to hold it closed due to pain or sensitivity to light. Other symptoms of an eye infection include excessive tearing, pawing or rubbing at the eye, and yellow or green discharge. Eye infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses, such as feline herpes. Treatment for an eye infection will depend on the cause, and in the case of a viral infection, it may involve diagnosing and treating the underlying disease.

cleaning persian chinchilla cat
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2. Eye Injury

Cats may keep their eyes shut if they have suffered an eye injury, such as a scratch. Corneal ulcers, which are injuries that damage the surface of the eye, can be quite painful, and keeping the eye shut is a common symptom. You may also notice redness, excessive tearing, and your cat rubbing or pawing at the affected eye. Treatment for corneal ulcers often involves medications, including anti-inflammatory and pain medications. In some cases, cats may need to wear a protective cone to prevent further aggravation of the injury.

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3. Eyelid Issues

Although more common in dogs, eyelid issues can also cause your cat to keep their eye closed. For example, your cat may have entropion, a condition where the eyelid rolls inward, bringing the eyelashes in contact with the eye. This constant irritation can lead to your cat keeping the eye shut. Cats can also develop growths on their eyelids that may irritate the eye. Surgical intervention is typically required to correct eyelid conditions.

vet checking cat
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4. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a painful eye condition that may cause your cat to keep their eye shut. Although less common in cats than in dogs, glaucoma occurs when there is inadequate drainage of fluid from the eye, resulting in increased pressure and pain. Besides keeping the eye closed, other signs of glaucoma include cloudy eyes, vision loss, bulging eyes, or abnormally dilated pupils. Treatment for glaucoma depends on the underlying cause and may involve various approaches.

5. Dry Eye

Dry eye, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is a condition where your cat’s eyes do not produce enough tears to keep them properly lubricated. As a result, the eyes become dry, irritated, and painful, causing your cat to keep one eye closed. Other signs of KCS include excessive blinking, yellowish discharge, or dull-looking eyes. Dry eye can be a side effect of other diseases, including viral herpes. Your veterinarian can perform a simple test to diagnose dry eye and prescribe appropriate medications.

Vet dripping drops in cat
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How To Prevent Eye Issues In Your Cat

While not all eye problems in cats are preventable, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk or prevent certain conditions from worsening:

  • Keep your cat indoors to reduce the chances of fights or injuries from external sources.
  • Monitor interactions between multiple cats to prevent rough play or fighting.
  • Supervise interactions between your cat and dogs or children to avoid eye injuries.
  • Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations to prevent flare-ups of viral infections that can cause conjunctivitis. This may include stress reduction techniques, up-to-date vaccinations, and the use of supplements like lysine.
  • Properly treat underlying conditions like entropion, glaucoma, and dry eye to avoid complications such as ulcers or infections.
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If your cat is keeping one eye closed, it’s a sign that they are experiencing pain. The underlying cause of this pain can vary, ranging from eye infections to injuries or other conditions. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for the well-being of your cat’s eyes. If your cat’s eye remains shut for an extended period, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. They may recommend seeking the expertise of a veterinary ophthalmologist or eye specialist if necessary.

For more information on cat eye health, check out our related article: Why Do Cats Have Eye Boogers? Cat Eye Discharge Explained.

Featured Image Credit: Alisa Matthews, Unsplash