behavior change

by Casey

Yesterday afternoon our normally energetic outdoor cat became very lethargic and wouldn't open his eyes. My family brought him the the vet e.r late last night but after checking his vitals and for any bowel or bladder infections, he checked out ok. The doctor examined his eyes as well noting that there was nothing visibly wrong with them. When the lights were turned off in the examining room, he came out of his crate but once they went back on he returned to his crate. It seems there is some issues with light sensitivity. I found him this morning curled up on the couch with some white crusty discharge around his nose. And again his eyes remained closed, only opening a little bit from time to time. We are just concerned about this behavior change and are worried he has ingested something. Any thoughts?


Outdoor cats can come into contact with numerous environmental hazards ranging from fungal factors to cars. Cryptococcosis is caught from a cat’s environment and it is a fungal cat eye infection that affects the central nervous system. Some of the symptoms that fit your description include a change in a cat’s temperament, depression and odd behavior. There are other symptoms that your cat doesn’t appear to be experiencing such as circling behavior, head tilt and uncoordinated movements, even dementia. This is typically treated with anti-fungal medications such as fluconazole, voriconazole, triazole , itraconazole.

Conjuctivitis is a frequently seen feline eye disorder. It’s an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and the outer surface of the eyeball. This is a highly contagious condition that can be prompted by an upper respiratory disease caused by either a bacterial or viral organism. The common symptom is runny eyes…which you didn’t mention so it may not be valid for your case.

Cat uveitis is another possibility. It can be caused by a parasite such as a protozoa, viruses like FIV, FeLV, FIP, feline herpes virus and toxoplasmosis. This disorder’s typical symptoms include pain, sensitivity to light, eyes that tear and too much fluid in the corneal area. Treatment includes NSAIDS to help with the pain your cat is experiencing and topical treatments and steroids to help the eye.

Blepharospasm is a condition of the eye due to involuntary contractions of the orbicularis oculi muscle of the eyelid and it often makes an animal look like it is keeping its eye closed. They don’t want to look at bright lights and may have some tearing. This is an indication that something is wrong with the eye or eyelid. It may involve only the Trigeminal nerve. The eye is painful and can be infected or injured.

Cat eye infection can be caused by scratches on the cornea if he came into contact with another animal outside that he had a fight with. Bacterial infection can set in or Blepharospasm (above) can be the result. The fact that your cat is showing a change in behavior by becoming lethargic is pointing to him being in pain. I would suggest that you have your vet look at him with an ophthalmoscope. It also sounds like you need to get him some pain relief.

There are other possibilities on my page Cat Eye Problems that I haven’t covered here because your cat’s symptoms fit closer to those above. I hope you can get his problems resolved and that he returns to being the energetic cat that you are accustomed to and I'm sure he will be grateful for your help.

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