What causes a cat to have blood shot eyes?

Our question this week was:

Hi Dr. Debra – My cat seems to have blood shot eyes what could this be?

Jen Smith


Hi Jen – thanks for your email. Blood shot eyes can mean different things. To be honest, I’ve had a lot of clients tell me their cat’s eyes were blood shot then when they brought them in – they had very different problems. To me, blood shot means that they white of the eye is slightly red (the sclera). If the eye is otherwise fine, no redness to the conjunctive, no itching, no pain, no blinking, etc. it may be a transient problem that will go way quickly (just like our eyes might be slightly red one day).

However, any redness to the eye can be a problem. I’ve seen “blood shot” eyes actually be conjunctivitis, blood in the anterior chamber of the eye secondary to rat poison ingestion, glaucoma, corneal ulcerations, and other serious conditions.

The safest thing to do is to have your cats eyes examined. This is especially true if he is scratching at them, seems blind, or is squinting.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you are Red Eye in Cats and Conjunctivitis in Cats.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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