One of the most prominent and appealing parts of a cat is her eyes. Just like for humans, it is a very important organ for felines as well. Therefore, keeping their eyes clean and healthy is a basic task for each cat owner.
When do you have to clean your cat’s eyes?
Kittens are born with their eyes shut, and they remain closed for about the first two weeks. During this period, the mother cat stays with her litter almost all the time and takes care and keeps them clean.
After these little furballs open their eyes, they begin to learn how to groom by watching their mother and start cleaning themselves with more or less success.
Unfortunately, they are unable to clean their eyes correctly until they are young adults and have gained enough dexterity to clean this very sensitive spot of their body by licking their paws and rubbing their faces.
This is where you, their lovely owner, will lend a hand and help to clean their eyes.
Even if they are getting older, there might be times when cats are not able to keep these areas clean. Sometimes their eyes can become watery, unclean and some dirt can build up in the corner. This is absolutely normal because it is a natural reaction of the body to push the dust and foreign materials to the corner and keep all these particles away from the eyeball.
However, if your cat does not clean it properly and you also leave it unattended, an unwanted crust can form blocking the tear ducts and resulting in an unpleasant cat eye infection.
For this very reason, your job is to clean it regularly so that your furry friend will remain healthy.
The other special occasion when your cat might need a regular helping hand in grooming is when you have a flat-faced breed like Persian, Siamese or Himalayan.
Due to their different face shape, the produced tear fluid (which plays the role to keep the eyes clean and wet only) does not dries up properly resulting in quite runny eyes. To avoid any discomfort or risk of an eye infection, it is highly advised to provide regular eye care for these short-faced cat breeds.
After all, a small amount of dirt on the corner of your cat’s eye is normal but it is important to remove it before it gets worse and becomes unhealthy.
To ensure your lovely cat’s health and hygiene it is absolutely necessary to know the proper way of cleaning a kitten’s eyes.
Things you need for cleaning your cat’s eyes
To keep your cat’s eyes clean, the first thing to do is to make a list of the necessary tools and collect what you need. Do not worry; the list is not long and quite easy to get:
- One clean bowl
Before you use any bowls, wash it properly so your kitten will not get any infection. The size of the bowl should be that much big that you can dip some cotton ball or cloth in it.
- Warm water
Since the kitten’s eyes area are quite sensitive, you have to make sure to use the right temperature of water. Boil some and then let it cool down.
It should not be too cold, and it should not be too hot either. Cold water can make her sick while hot water can burn her little body. The best solution is if you try it on your skin and if it feels comfortable, it should be fine.
- Fragrance-free cotton balls (preferably) or soft, absorbent cloth
For the cleaning process, the best option is to use fragrance-free cotton balls. Avoid the fluffy type as the small particles of those balls can get into your kitty’s eyes causing irritation to her.
You can also use soft, absorbent cloth but it has some disadvantage: you have to be very careful and fold the dirty parts of the cloth away again and again once you remove some crust. It is also recommended to use a second bowl of water for the final cleaning in case of using cloth.
- Large, thick towel
Since you will wrap your kitten in this towel, make sure it is large enough but not too rough so that it will not irritate her.
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Step by step guide – how to clean a cat’s eyes
When it comes to eyes, hygiene is very important. Even though your cat will naturally groom herself, you can still provide some helping hand for her to ensure her health. To clean your furry friend’s eyes well, you can use the following steps:
Step 1: Prepare yourself: Wash your hands properly.
Since you do not want to cause any infection or harm for your beloved kitty, your hands should be extremely clean. I suggest you to wash them all the way up to your elbows with hot water and wipe them with a clean towel.
Step 2: Prepare the bowl of water.
Grab a bowl of water, boil it and then let it cool down. Remember, the skin around the kittens’ eyes are quite sensitive so make sure the water is not hot; rather it should be room temperature.
Please make sure before using the bowl that nothing has fallen into it.
Step 3: Prepare the cotton balls or the soft cloth.
It is wise to prepare everything near to your hands so that you do not have to move or walk around with the kitten while cleaning her eyes. With this step, you can avoid some unpleasant scratching. Place the fragrance-free cotton balls or the soft absorbent cloth next to the water bowl.
Step 4: Preparation for after the eye care.
After cleaning her eyes, your kitten might feel cold. Do not forget to prepare a cozy spot for her to warm her up and make her feel comfortable.
Have a treat ready and make sure you have some time to spend with her after the cleaning procedure.
Step 5: Prepare the spot.
Sit down and place the large thick towel on your lap. Remember, it should not be too rough not to irritate your kitty.
Step 6: Prepare your kitten.
Lift the kitten up gently, put her on the towel and wrap her. This will help you to hold your furry friend comfortably, and it will protect you from unwanted scratches.
Make sure you position her correctly, her head should be facing you and her legs should not be in an awkward position or twisted, rather she should have a natural posture.
If you have a long-haired cat, you should trim it away as well to avoid any uncomfortable situation like her hair sticking into her eyes during cleaning.
Step 7: Take a piece of the cotton balls and soak it in the water.
You can also use soft, absorbent cloth. In this case, moistening only the corner of it would be enough.
Keep in mind that the water should be slightly higher than room temperature and it should remain clean so do not dip used cotton balls in this water, rather always throw away the dirty and use new ones.
Step 8: Lift the cotton ball out and slowly squeeze it till very water stops dripping.
I am sure you do not want the entire place to be wet so just squeeze it properly but do not make it too dry either.
Step 9: Place the squeezed cotton balls (or cloth) on top of the kitten’s eye.
Gently hold it in place till the dry crust becomes soft. This can last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on the amount of crust stuck around the eyes.
If necessary, you can apply another clean cotton ball to soften the crust more. Make sure not to use the same cotton ball, so that the water remains clean.
Please do not move the wet cotton ball side to side at this stage, as it could damage your cat’s eye.
Step 10: Softly wipe away the dirt from your kitten’s eye.
After softening the crust, now you can dab the eye very gently using the wet cotton ball starting from the inside corner of her eye towards her temple.
Try to do it quickly and if she starts struggling, clawing or meowing loudly, then it means she is in a lot of pain. Stop immediately and repeat step 9, but this time, hold it on her eye a little bit longer than before. This should help remove the dirt and clean the eye. If it does not work, continue doing step 9 and 10 using new cotton balls if needed until you can remove the dirt properly.
If you do this procedure with a soft cloth, make sure you fold the dirty parts of the cloth away anytime you remove small dirt particles.
Important note: Bear in mind that pressure on the eye, touching the eyeball or rubbing this sensitive part can cause lifelong damage.
Step 11: Final cleaning.
After cleaning all the crust, use one more new wet cotton ball to make the eye extra clean. If it is done, use another, now dry, cotton ball to wipe your kitten dry.
Repeat the ‘Action’ steps (from 7 to 11) once again to clean the other eye.
Step 13: Reward your cat with a treat.
When you finished all this unpleasant process, release her at the cozy, warm spot you have already prepared.
Your kitten will also appreciate some treat and affection. Reward her good behavior immediately with her favorite food or a toy so that she can have a good association with the cleaning procedure.
If possible, stay with her for some time, stroke her and show your love so that she can calm down.
Step 14: Throw out the waste and wash your hand.
Please do not leave the waste out, you know how curious your little friend can be. Once you are done with the cleaning process, discard all the waste and then wash your hand properly.
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Tips and warnings
The following tips and warnings will help you to understand what to look for more carefully during the cleaning process. Sometimes these things will seem to be obvious and can be very small details, but if you are not cautious enough, you can easily cause lifelong damage in your beloved, lovely kitten.
- If your cat’s eyes become too dirty, more intensive and more regular cleaning should be done.
- The daily amount of eye care will depend on the particular cat as well: as it is mentioned earlier, Persian and Himalayan cat breeds are more prone to running eyes, so they need more regular eye cleaning. Sometimes the little kittens can’t even open their eyes for the first time because of the pent-up dirt around their eyes, so persistent cleaning is in order. In these situations, repeat the procedure several times a day. It will also avoid too much dirt and eye gunk from forming.
- Be constant and repeat the cleaning procedure daily if needed. This will help you to avoid bigger eye problems, and it will help your kitten to get use to the procedure and makes her gradually be introduced to water and bathing.
- Please be aware of how to hold a kitten from the starting point of approaching, throughout picking her up safely and placing her on your lap. Make sure you know the proper way of approaching her so that she feels secure and completely comfortable in your presence during this unpleasant cleaning procedure. Once you are done, place her down gently. If you have a good relationship with your cat, I am sure she won’t mind if you gently clean her.
- Calling out your kitten’s name and responding to her meowing in a calm and reassuring voice will make her understand that she is in good and safe hands. Talk to her in a soothing voice and stroke her gently throughout the cleaning procedure so that she will stay calm and feel secure. With this behavior, you can also avoid some unwanted scratch marks.
- If it is possible, get someone to help you with the procedure. Your job will be much easier if someone holds the kitten for you and you just have to do the cleaning. Sometimes kittens are hard to handle so a helping hand is always useful if you deal with a baby cat.
- If you have a long-haired cat, make sure that her hair does not reach to her eyes. Either move it away or cut it so her hair will not irritate her eyes.
- Prevention is better than cure. To keep your kitten’s eyes healthy, there are some prevention actions you can do:
- During cleaning one room, keep your cat in another one so that she will not inhale chemicals and dust particles will not get into her eyes.
- Do not give her sharp toys and keep every sharp tool away from her which can poke her eyes.
- It is wise to go to the veterinarian and examine the eyes of your kitten once in a while, even if she has no signs of infection. If a problem appears, you caught it in time at least. If not, your vet can give you advice on how to prevent any eye problems.
- Even if you do not clean, at least, do check your kitty’s eyes daily and be aware of signs of infection. By taking such action, you can prevent eye problems in an early stage.
- Never hesitate to ask your local veterinarian any questions (whether it is about cleaning or eye problem), no matter how silly or obvious they may seem to you.
- Since you are dealing with your beloved pet’s eyes, your hands should be exceptionally clean. Always wash your hands properly before the cleaning session and do not forget to clean them after the procedure as well.
- Make sure to check the temperature of the water. Do not burn the kitty’s skin with hot water and do not bring her body temperature too much down with too cold water either. Be aware that you can easily harm your kitten if you do not pay attention to this small detail.
- It is very important not to reuse cotton balls. Once it becomes dirty, you should throw it out and use a fresh one to continue the cleaning process. If you are done with one eye, make sure you start the other one with a new cotton ball. The first eye may have an infection and in order to avoid making the other eye infected, use a fresh, new cotton ball.
- If your kitten is scared, moving too much or she is in too much pain, let her take rest and either do it later or try to clean her eyes on another day. Do not scare her more with forcing her to do something that she does not really Also, if you respond to her behavior, you can easily and quickly build some trust so later on she will agree to do the cleaning.
- Be very careful with your kitten’s eyes! Even accidentally touching the eye can result in damage and it can be very painful for that little furball.
- As you clean the lovely kitty’s eye area, try to avoid her eyeball. Do not touch it or rub it because this can lead to irritation and cause injury. If this accidentally happens, your cat will try to avoid the cleaning procedure in the future. Be exceptionally cautious!
- Do not try to pull the crust from the eyes or you might end up damaging her eyelids.
- If you do not want to damage the eye or cause harm to your kitty, do not rub her at this sensitive part of her little body. If this area becomes pink, be aware that you have already injured her. Contact your local veterinarian immediately.
- Unless it is recommended by your local veterinarian, please do not use any other things to clean the cat’s eyes, other than water and cotton balls and avoid putting chemicals, foreign materials or other cleaning products.
- Be aware of the signs of illness and know the right time when to turn to your veterinarian for guidance. He can warn you if any infection appears and advice you with the right treatment. The most common cat eye problem is feline conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye), but there can be other worse issues like glaucoma which can lead to permanent damage or blindness also. Watch out for the following signs of infected or injured eyes and do not hesitate to contact the animal doctor immediately as soon as you notice any of them:
- plenty of discharge, discharge with any colour or it appears bloody,
- continuous tearing,
- too much-matted eyes,
- odd-coloured fur around the eyes,
- visible greenish or yellowish pus,
- red or swollen eyes,
- visible third eyelid,
- change in pupil size,
- cat pawing her eye,
- foreign material in the kitten’s eyes,
- constant squinting, excess blinking or closed eyes,
- loss of vision,
- any other unusual change from a normal eye appearance.
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Final thoughts of how to clean a kitten’s eyes
I hope by now you realized how important it is to clean your kitten’s eyes and know the main steps to properly do so in order to avoid any critical damage.
Since unattended dirt on the kitten’s eyes can get worse very easily and turn to a serious eye problem any time, always put your best effort to clean it, prevent it and solve it.
However, cats do groom themselves regularly; a trustworthy helping hand comes in handy, and they will not mind getting some attention as well. Clean your beloved furry friend regularly; this will help her remain healthy, hygienic and infection-free.
Whenever you notice anything unusual or you are just in any doubt, consult your nearest veterinarian for guidance. Without the right treatments, these problems can become lifelong health issues.
Remember, health is wealth!