Dr. Tofflemire,

My family and I rescued this little kitten and he just has disgusting eyes! I’ve been putting cream in it, but I don’t know how much it’s helping. What’s going on with him?!


Hi Lorraine,

Yikes! That kitten is lucky you found him!  It looks like he has keratoconjunctivitis or inflammation of his cornea and conjunctiva. In kittens, I worry about a combination of viral and bacterial infections.   

Feline herpes virus-1 (FHV-1) is an extremely common infection, often transmitted to kittens from their mothers. I would consider adding antiviral therapy to his management regimen. I previously wrote about FHV-1 and antiviral medications here.

Unfortunately for this little guy, he also appears to have experienced a corneal perforation of his right eye. This is a full-thickness injury to the eye, resulting in exposure of the intraocular structures to the outside world. I would suspect it occurred from a corneal ulceration (caused by FHV-1) with a secondary bacterial infection causing subsequent degrading of tissue and perforation. Consequently, antibiotic therapy would also be indicated here.   

While in many cases, surgical grafting by a veterinary ophthalmologist is necessary to stabilize a corneal perforation, many young kittens will heal remarkably well with appropriate medical (antiviral, antibiotic, and analgesic) therapy. Some even retain vision after this type of condition. I encourage you to discuss these management options with your veterinarian or consult with a veterinary ophthalmologist.

-Dr. Tofflemire