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WEEKEND: YOUR PETS: What could be causing my cat's eye problems?

Byline: with PDSA vet Kurt Vandamme

Q. MY cat has recently developed what I thought was a squint, but on closer examination the skin in the inner corners of his eye is moving over his iris. What is this and does it require treatment?

A. IN addition to upper and lower eyelids, cats have a third eyelid. The membrane partially closes over the eye when the cat is blinking and sleeping and it provides additional protection.

It is visible usually only in the corner of the eye but what you are seeing could be a prominent third eyelid.

Normally it is held back by the position of the eyeball, so anything that makes the eyeball shrink slightly or sink back into the head will allow the membrane to slip upwards.

This can happen when a cat loses weight, due to the shrinking of the fat pad behind the eye. Dehydration and anaemia, worms or other parasites can cause the third eyelid to be more prominent and also if your cat has mild depression. A night out on the tiles as well can sometimes tire an un-neutered male cat!

Sometimes there appears to be no cause whatsoever and cats that appear perfectly normal can have a prominent third eyelid for no apparent reason. However, sometimes if the cat has been ill, the eyelid may not return to normal even when the cat regains health.

Q. I HAVE a three-year-old dog. She is in good health, but I have noticed that every morning both her eyes have a discharge in the corner. Is this anything to worry about?

A. EYE discharges can be due to a number of different things. Certain symptoms are a response to an injury or infection, including redness, eye discharge, eyelid spasms or difficulty blinking. However, these symptoms are not specific to any particular problem so take your dog to the vets as soon as you can.

Possible causes could include:

An injury to the eye.

Foreign bodies in the eye.

Conjunctivitis. This is inflammation of the thin membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the eye.

Abnormal eyelids. When they turn inwards it is called entropion, and when the eyelids turn outwards it is called ectropion.

Hair irritation. This is caused by hairs growing in the wrong place, such as on the inner eyelid.

Cherry eye is where the eyelid has a swollen appearance which looks a bit like a cherry in the corner of the eye.

Eyelid tumours. These are common in dogs, but most are benign (non-malignant).

Dry eye. This is where the affected eye produces fewer tears than normal. It can cause an eye discharge.

Watery eye/tear overflow. This is caused by a problem with the duct that carries tears away from the corner of the eye to the nose.

Q. I HAVE two male gerbils, both aged three years. One of them became ill recently and had to be separated from his cage-mate. After nursing him back to health in a cage on his own, he is still separated from the other one. I wondered if I could reunite them?

A. UNFORTUNATELY, if gerbils are removed from their cage and then reunited they are liable to fight. Usually, females are more likely to be aggressive in this situation than males, so that may work in your favour.

You can try getting a new cage to put both gerbils in. Ensure there are plenty of hiding places and supervise them closely until you are sure that they will not fight.

One way to try and minimise the problem is to dust the gerbils with talcu powder. This masks the body odour differences between the pets, which can help decrease conflict.

If you have a question for the vet, write directly to: Kurt Vandamme, PO Box 5987, Chelmsford CM1 2GP.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:636
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