Can Saline Solution Be Used to Clean Your Cat’s Eyes?


Eye care is extremely important for cats to maintain their health and wellbeing. Cats rely heavily on their vision to perform essential daily functions like hunting, playing, navigating their environment, bonding with their owners, and more. Vision issues in cats can lead to a decreased quality of life and negative impacts on behavior. Cats can develop a range of eye problems and diseases, some of which may lead to partial or total blindness if left untreated. Eye problems that cause irritation or discomfort can also lead to behavioral issues in cats. Therefore, properly caring for cats’ eyes by keeping them clean, treating any eye issues promptly, and getting regular veterinary eye exams is key to preserving good vision and quality of life.

Is It Safe to Use Saline Solution on Cats’ Eyes?

Using a saline solution to rinse your cat’s eyes is generally considered safe, as long as proper precautions are taken. Saline solution contains sodium chloride mixed with water to create a solution that matches the salt content of tears and tissues in the body. This makes saline gentle enough to use on sensitive areas like the eyes without irritation (source).

It’s important to use a sterile saline solution specifically designed for rinsing eyes rather than using homemade saline or contact lens solutions, which may contain other ingredients that could be irritating. Saline solutions sold for eye rinsing are regulated for quality and purity standards to be safe for the delicate eye area of both humans and pets.

Overall, sterile saline solutions are considered safe for cleaning cats’ eyes as long as they are properly formulated for ophthalmic use and care is taken not to contaminate the solution. Using saline can help flush away debris and discharge from minor eye irritations. However, saline does not treat underlying infections, so veterinary advice should still be sought if eye problems persist.

Pros of Using Saline Solution

Using a saline solution to gently clean your cat’s eyes has several benefits. Saline is gentle and non-irritating, making it a safe option for cats. The main pros of using a saline solution on cat’s eyes include:

Gentle cleaning – Saline solution can help flush away dirt, debris, and discharge from your cat’s eyes without being harsh. The salt solution has a similar pH and osmolarity to natural tears, helping to gently cleanse the eye. This makes it an ideal mild eye wash. [](

Moisturizing – Saline solution can help moisturize dry, irritated eyes in cats. The salt and water content soothes the eye and provides moisture, which can relieve irritation. This helps flush out irritants while hydrating the eye. [](

Non-toxic – Saline solutions contain just salt and sterile water, making them non-toxic and safe if licked or swallowed. This is important for cats who may lick their eyes when they’re being cleaned. The ingredients won’t harm your cat if a small amount of saline gets in their mouth.

Cons of Using Saline Solution

While generally safe, there are some potential downsides to using saline solution on cats’ eyes:

Saline solution alone does not treat the underlying cause of eye issues. It can remove dirt, debris, and discharge, but it does not treat infections, allergies, or other medical conditions causing eye problems. Saline is only meant for gentle cleaning and maintenance.

Overuse of saline can potentially lead to dry eyes or irritation in some cats. It’s generally recommended to limit use to 1-2 times daily at most. Prolonged or excessive rinsing may disrupt the tear film and protective mucus layer in the eyes.1 Over-rinsing could also remove beneficial bacteria.

Saline solution has no medicinal effects. While safe for maintenance, relying solely on saline to treat eye infections or injuries can delay proper veterinary treatment and lead to worse outcomes. It should not replace antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or other medications prescribed by a vet.

Some cats may dislike having their eyes rinsed with saline solution, especially if they have sensitivity or pain. Gentleness and positive reinforcement are needed to avoid stress or trauma.

In summary, saline solution is meant for gentle cleaning and maintenance only. It should be used in moderation and not as a sole treatment for eye conditions. Seeking veterinary advice is important if eye issues persist or worsen.

When to Use Saline Solution

Saline solution can be used for routine eye cleaning and irritation relief in cats. Using a sterile saline solution to gently flush your cat’s eyes can help remove dust, dirt, and other debris that may build up in the corners of their eyes or irritate the surface.1 Saline is isotonic, meaning it matches the pH balance of a cat’s eyes, so it will not further irritate the eye or cause stinging. Many cat owners use saline as part of their regular cat grooming routine to keep their eyes clean and free of irritation.

Saline solution can also provide relief if your cat’s eyes are red, runny, or irritated from allergies, dust, smoke, or other environmental factors. The gentle flushing action can help clear out any allergens or irritants and soothe inflamed eyes. Just avoid rubbing or excessively wiping, as this may further aggravate the eyes. It’s best to allow the saline to wash away debris naturally. Be sure to only use sterile saline intended for eyes and not household saline, which may contain additives.

How to Use Saline Solution on Cats’ Eyes

Using a saline solution to clean your cat’s eyes is a simple process, but it’s important to be gentle and take precautions.

Here are the steps for properly using saline solution on a cat’s eyes:

1. Purchase a sterile saline solution made for eyes. Do not use contact lens solution or other types of saline, as these may contain inappropriate ingredients.

2. Pour a small amount of the saline solution onto a clean cotton ball or pad.

3. Gently wipe any discharge or debris away from the eye, going from the inner corner to the outer corner. Use a fresh cotton ball and additional solution as needed.

4. Try to avoid touching the eye itself. Wipe only the fur and skin around the eye.

5. Work carefully and speak soothingly to keep your cat calm.

6. Finish by triple rinsing the eye area with clean saline solution to wash away any remaining irritants.

7. Pat dry gently with a soft, clean towel.

It’s important to follow tips like:

– Never use saline solutions that have expired.

– Do not attempt to rinse under the eyelids or rub the eye itself.

– Stop if your cat seems distressed and contact your vet.

– Always reward your cat with treats and affection after cleaning their eyes.

With some patience and care, saline solution can be used to safely clean and soothe your cat’s eyes.

Signs of Eye Problems in Cats

There are several common signs indicating your cat may have an eye problem that requires veterinary attention. These include:

Discharge – Excessive tearing, mucus, or pus draining from one or both eyes is not normal and can signal an infection or inflammation. Thick, colored discharge often points to a more serious issue. Clear discharge may indicate mild irritation or allergies (

Squinting – If your cat is squinting or blinking more than usual, it likely indicates discomfort or pain in the eye. Squinting is the eye’s response to irritation, injury, or glare sensitivity. Chronic squinting warrants a vet visit (

Redness – Red, bloodshot eyes are a sign of ocular inflammation. Redness may affect the whites of the eyes, lining of the eyelids, or inner eye. It can be caused by infections, injuries, foreign objects, or eye diseases. Seek prompt veterinary care if you notice any abnormal redness (

When to See a Veterinarian

There are certain situations when you should take your cat to the veterinarian for evaluation of eye problems rather than trying to treat it yourself at home. These include:

Persistent irritation – If your cat’s eyes remain irritated, red, or teary for more than a day or two, it’s best to have a vet examine them. Cats can develop conjunctivitis or other bacterial/viral infections that require medication to resolve. Trying to treat persistent irritation at home rarely succeeds.

Injuries – Any eye injury, such as a scratch or puncture, should be evaluated by a vet right away. They can properly assess the damage and prescribe medication to prevent infection and promote healing. Don’t attempt to treat eye injuries at home.

Infections – Bacterial or viral infections often require prescription antibiotic or antiviral eye drops/ointments. You can’t effectively treat these at home. Symptoms of eye infections include green/yellow discharge, squinting, crusty eyes, and ulcers or blindness in severe cases. Seek prompt veterinary attention if you notice these signs.

It’s important not to delay when your cat has irritated, injured, or infected eyes as prompt treatment can prevent permanent damage. Call your vet or visit an emergency clinic if the office is closed. For more information, see: Cat Eye Discharge and Eye Problems.

Alternatives to Saline Solution

There are a few alternatives to using saline solution to clean a cat’s eyes. Some other eye cleaning solutions include:

  • Sterile eye wash solutions – These are formulated for eye health and are gentle on the eyes. Brands like Vetericyn Plus Eye Wash are made specifically for pets.
  • Contact lens solution – This can be used but avoid solutions containing whitening agents. Preservative-free solutions are best. Source

There are also some home remedies that people have tried for cat eye issues:

  • Chamomile tea – This herb has anti-inflammatory properties. Steep chamomile tea bags in hot water. Allow to cool and use the cooled tea to wipe the eyes.Source
  • Colloidal silver – Dilute colloidal silver with sterile saline and apply to the eyes. This has antibacterial properties but should not be overused.Source

When using any eye treatment on a cat, it’s important to gently wipe the eye rather than rinse so as not to further irritate it. Only use remedies meant for the eyes and monitor for any worsening of symptoms.


In summary, using a sterile saline solution to gently clean your cat’s eyes can be a safe and effective way to remove debris and discharge. When used properly and in moderation, saline solution will not harm your cat’s eyes. However, you’ll want to avoid over-cleaning, which can lead to irritation. Watch for any signs of eye inflammation or infection, and see your veterinarian if problems persist.

The best advice is to only use saline eye wash when your cat has visible dirt or discharge in its eyes. Use a product formulated for pets and follow instructions carefully. Make sure to check with your vet if your cat has chronic eye issues. With some basic precautions, saline solution can be a handy tool for keeping your cat’s eyes clean and healthy.

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