The whites of the eyes of your cat are red – What can you do?

Causes for the whites of the eyes of your cat being red

The whites of your cat’s eyes will turn red when excessive blood gets into the whites of the eyes. This can be due to two causes. First, a blood vessel may have burst and the blood is no longer in the blood vessel, but has settled between the tissues. Secondly, the eye can be inflamed, causing the eye to dilate the blood vessels completely so that many antibodies and restorative substances reach the problem area. This causes the whites of the eyes of your cat to appear red. 

bleeding in the eye white
A ruptured blood vessel leads to an even red discoloration of the whites of the eyes. There are no obvious blood vessels. (photo is of a human, not a cat)
An eye infection causes the blood vessels in the white of the eye to open completely. Blood vessels are therefore still visible. (photo is of a human, not a cat)

Symptoms of a ruptured blood vessel

When a blood vessel is ruptured, the blood that used to be in the blood vessel seeps into the surrounding tissue of your cat’s eye. This causes the whites of the eyes of your cat to be red. It can be the result of an accident, but sometimes it also occurs without any obvious reason. In most cases cats do not suffer from this eye. They will not pinch or rub the eye. There is usually no other damage visible. The eye will repair the blood vessel and the blood that has come out of the blood vessel will be cleared away. This can sometimes take a few weeks, but it doesn’t need any supportive treatment as long as it doesn’t affect your cat.

Symptoms of an eye infection that causes the whites of the eye of your cat to be red.

The page about an eye infection in cats explains what an eye infection is and how it arises. Usually, the whites of your cat’s eyes remain almost white with an eye infection. But sometimes the blood vessels in a cat’s eye open wide to solve the problem in the eye and it’s surrounding tissue. An eye infection is also painful for your cat and it will close it’s eye completely or partially. He can also pull his third eyelid over his eye.

Because the blood vessels open up wide, they are also more visible. The whites of your cat’s eyes will then see red. As long as the pupil has a normal shape and does not differ from the other eye and the color of the iris (the colored part of the eye) has the same color and shape in both eyes, you can assume that it is an eye infection. If you do see abnormalities in the pupil or iris, then something else is going on and it is wise to visit your vet.

The white of the eye is red in this cat.
The whites of a cat's eyes appear red due to an eye infection. The white's of the eye are evenly red (pink) and no blood vessels to be seen, but since it is painful for this cat, this is not a ruptured blood vessel. This is an eye infection.

Treating your cat's red eye whites

As mentioned, you don’t need to treat an eye that has a ruptured blood vessel. It will heal on it’s own. An inflamed eye is best treated with an antibacterial eye drop. An example of the is antibiotic eye drop shown below.

You must drip this 3 times a day for at least 5 days in the eye. How to do that is shown in this video. You should normally see some improvement in the whites of the eyes of your cat after a day or two. It should be over after 7 days at the latest. If this is not the case, it is best to go to your vet. They will most likely prescribe an other antibiotic eye ointment for your cat.

Hopefully your cat wil have a healthy eye within no time. Good luck!