We were just sitting around like usual lately when Solstice meowed, then walked up to sit in Lou’s lap, like he does almost every day. Then Lou noticed he had one eye closed. Now Solstice just does this sometime for fun.. he is so lazy he keeps one eye shut, especially if he just woke up. If we pet him or get his attention, he’ll open both eyes and it’s fine.
But this time, he kept licking his paw, then rubbing his eye with it – so hard there was a weird clicking sound. This clicking is what worried us. We wondered if maybe he had hurt his paw, hence the licking, and the face part was just incidental. We called the vet, and they said we could come in in 45 minutes. We started playing with Solstice to see if he was favoring one paw, and he was not. His paws were fine. It was his eye. I drizzled some water in to see if I could flush something out, but it didn’t help. (The vet said salt water is far better for that, by the way, since it doesn’t burn as much as regular water. Salt water emulates tears.)
We kept playing with him, but as soon as we paused for too long, he’d rub his eye again. At the vet, they asked if he had been sneezing or coughing. He had sneezed maybe one time recently so I said no. They put an eyedrop in his eye, then shined a blue light into it to see if he had a corneal abrasion (scratch). This was what I was most worried about – that he and Wintermuse had been fighting, and she had scratched his eye.
However, there was no scratch. When they looked under his eyelid, it was clear it was irritated, but it wasn’t clear by what. The vet said it must have been a particle of some sort – maybe dust or some allergen that got in his eye. Maybe he somehow smelled cigarette smoke. Who knows?
We took him home with some eyedrops, and after the first eyedrop, a curious thing happened. He sneezed a few times. Then, 20 minutes later, he had a coughing fit. I called the vet immediately, worried he was having a reaction to the eyedrops. She thought it was fine – perhaps the eyedrop just dripped down into his throat, and he was trying to get rid of the taste – but I was concerned.
The next morning, I gave him another eyedrop, and he sneezed several times that day. His eye was still irritated. I did not like how this was proceeding. We tried to do another eyedrop that evening, but he was wise to our attempts by now. I wasn’t sure we got any of the drop actually in his eye. We decided to wait until he was asleep, but, being a smart kitty, he came to bed with me in the dark, so we couldn’t give him another drop.
The next morning, he seemed better. His eye was open. I decided not to give him another eyedrop. He didn’t sneeze, and his eye was fine from that day onward. We used up just 3 eyedrops from the prescription. I don’t know what to make of the situation. Did he just have a kitty allergy attack, and then sneezing/coughing were going to happen anyway, then resolve themselves even if we didn’t give him eyedrops? Were the eyedrops making him cough and sneeze? We’ll never know.
However, if your cat starts rubbing its eye, definitely take it to the vet. Make sure there isn’t a scratch. If it isn’t a scratch and just an unknown irritant, well.. use your judgement. Maybe it’ll go away on its own.