Corneal Ulceration in Cats

Feline Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulceration, commonly called corneal ulcers, is a loss of the corneal epithelium (the outermost cells of the cornea) with exposure and possibly loss of the underlying corneal collagen. Corneal epithelium is constantly being lost and replaced, and its health and thickness depend on a delicate balance between cell loss and regeneration.

Below is an overview of corneal ulcerations in cats followed by in-depth information about the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

Corneal ulceration can affect any animal; however, those breeds of cats with more protuberant (prominent) eyes and larger eyelid openings are at increased risk. Some older animals may heal more slowly and, therefore, may have ulcers that are more difficult to treat.

Corneal ulceration is a painful and potentially vision-threatening condition. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment is usually rapidly curative. Complicated cases can progress to full thickness or perforating ulcers with serious effects on vital structures within the eye.

What to Watch For

Veterinary Care for Corneal Ulceration in Cats

Veterinary care includes diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.


Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize corneal ulceration, any underlying cause and to exclude other diseases. Tests may include:


Treatments for corneal ulceration may include any of the following:

Home Care for Corneal Ulceration in Cats

At home, administer all veterinary prescribed medications and follow up with your veterinarian within a few days of the original diagnosis. Take care that your cat doesn’t rub at the eye or cause any extra trauma to the healing ulcer. Leave the Elizabethan collar on at all times until your veterinarian approves its removal.

Observe the eye for signs of worsening, especially cloudiness of the cornea, increased or altered ocular discharge, continued squinting or more obvious inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the delicate lining in the eyelids and covering part of the eyeball.

Preventative Care

Examine your cat’s eyes regularly and call your veterinarian if you note any pain or color change. Try not to get anything other than saline or clean water in your cat’s eyes. For example, avoid shampoos, soaps and any other household cleaners. Do not attempt to remove foreign material from your cat’s eye. Instead, seek urgent veterinary care.

In-depth Information on Corneal Ulcerations in Cats

Your veterinarian is usually able to diagnose corneal ulceration with a thorough examination and application of a fluorescein dye to your cat’s cornea. However, discovering the cause of the ulceration and checking for related ocular abnormalities can be challenging. The following conditions must be investigated as potential causes or effects of the corneal ulcer.

In-depth Information on Diagnosis of Corneal Ulcers in Cats

In-depth Information on Treatment of Corneal Ulcers in Cats

The principal goals in the treatment of corneal ulceration are to identify and treat its cause, to prevent secondary infection, and to encourage healing. Following removal of the inciting cause and appropriate treatment, repair of minor corneal ulcers is often complete within seven days. Patients with slow-healing or rapidly progressive ulcers require more protracted therapy.

The typical therapeutic approach may include the following:

Home Care of Feline Corneal Ulcers

Follow-up care of corneal ulcers is critical. Administer any prescribed medication(s) as directed and be certain to alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your cat. Optimal follow up veterinary care involves the following: