Cataracts In Cats: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Do cats get cataracts? This is a common question asked by many cat owners. The answer, no doubt, is ‘yes’. Whenever you see changes in the color of your kitty’s eyes, or perhaps you suspect that her vision is impaired, the cause may well be a cataract. Many people are of the belief that cataract is an ailment associated with aging, but this is not always the case with the feline population. Age is never the major factor with feline cataracts, and cats rarely develop the condition, unlike their canine counterparts, that get them more often. Cat parents should always be observant of the cat’s vision and should pay a visit to the vet upon noticing any abnormalities. Read on to get all the necessary information about feline cataracts.
Causes Of Cataracts
Yes, cats do get affected by cataract, but feline cataract is rare compared to that of dogs. In explanation, a cataract is a degenerate disorder that affects the lens of the eye, thereby impairing vision. It is an eye defect that may affect either or both eyes, and are triggered by factors such as injury, aging, disease, and inflammation. What’s more, many factors are responsible for the development of feline cataracts; however, the underlying cause remains unknown in some cases. It may be in the cat’s DNA, or they can just develop it down the line as a result of aging. Feline cataracts may also be due to the following reasons:
- Genetic predisposition
- General inflammation
- When the anterior uvea is inflamed
- Electric shock
- Lens luxation
- Impairment in the metabolism of certain proteins and chemicals
- Exposure to poisonous substance
How to Look Identify Cataracts
You should suspect cataracts whenever you observe a milky or cloudy substance in your cat’s eyes. As the milky patch advances, the cat will begin to exhibit strange behaviors. In several cases, feline cataracts might just be a small patch that may not be noticeable. However, we have seen several cases where it is more serious; in such situations, the milky patch will continue to widen until the entire lens becomes opaque in appearance, and this usually results in blindness. The disease is a progressive one, which calls for the immediate attention of the vet.
Symptoms of Cataracts in Cats
When feline cataract is still at its early stage. It may be difficult to notice anything unusual. This is one of the reasons why you should regularly undergo vet checkups, as the veterinarian is usually the first person to notice anything abnormal in your cat’s vision, especially at the earliest stage. When a cataract is detected at early stage, it’s possible to stem its growth; however, if the abnormal growth is not detected and treated on time, you will begin to see certain changes in the appearance of your cat’s eye. This change comes in the form of a milky or cloudy patch or spot that will continue to grow until it covers up the whole lens. Sadly, once a cataract gets in the eye, light can no longer fall on the retina, which gives rise to visual impairment. The following symptoms may be noticed:
- Change in the color of the cat’s iris.
- Uncertainty in the kitty’s movement.
- Misjudging distances as well as jumps.
- The cat will constantly trip over her own feet.
- Constantly bumping into furniture, walls, or any obstructive structures.
- Inability to recognize members of the family.
- Difficulty with the location the usual position of her litter box.
- Locating her food bowl with difficulty.
- Navigating the stairs with hardship.
- Displaying anxiety and signs of stress.
Cataracts may also lead to serious issues like blindness, and in addition, it can result in irritation, stress, as well as discomfort in some kitties, as they undergo both emotional and physical struggles with their loss of vision.
Diagnosis Of Cataracts In The Feline Population
When you take your pet cat for her yearly wellness appointment, her eyes will be subjected to a thorough examination by the veterinarian who will be on the lookout for some visual symptoms of cataract. The vet may deem it necessary to dilate the kitty’s eyes in order to have a better look at the cat’s internal eye structure.
The vet will then proceed to access a detailed history of the feline’s health as he observes how she reacts to visual stimuli. The vet may let the cat down on the floor to observe her reactions to any impediments, if she is able to avoid them, and if she can still walk in the usual gait. Any of the following may be necessary:
- Physical examination – If required, the vet will carry out a physical exam to get at the root cause of the cataract.
- History – The vet will record the kitty’s complete history in a bid to know of any behavioral or medical changes which you, as the cat parent, may have noticed.
- Blood test – The reason for the blood test is to alert your vet to anything unusual, as well as out-of-range results, which may well be the cause of the condition.
- Urine test – This aids the vet in pin-pointing the primary cause of the condition.
- Ultrasound – The essence of this is for the purpose of confirmation of an already existing diagnosis. At this stage, the vet will be able to decide if surgery is needed.
- Eye dilation
Treatment of Cataracts in Cats
Treatment is prescribed depending on the general health of your cat, the location of the cataract as well as its severity. If noticed early, the treatment may be a mild one.
- Medication – This suffices if you discover the cataract at an early stage. Drugs are administered to stop the grown, avoid re-growth, and ward off blindness.
- Healing (Ameliorating fundamental Causes) – If the cataract resulted from underlying ailments like diabetes or hypertension, the vet would focus on treating that responsible disorder.
- Surgery – This only becomes necessary at the advanced stage of cataract to restore vision.
- Lens implantation – Many cases have been observed where a cat’s vision was restored with a lens implant. However, you can only perform the procedure on healthy kitties that have the determination to behave well for the section.
- Cataracts in Cats – PetMD
- Cloudy Eyes in Cats: What to Watch For With Your Senior Pet – VetStreet