How Much Does a Cat Eye Infection Vet Visit Cost?


Feline eye infections are a common health issue that cat owners may encounter. They can be caused by a variety of factors like viruses, bacteria, allergies, and foreign bodies. While some mild infections may resolve on their own, it’s important to have a veterinarian examine your cat’s eyes to determine the cause and proper treatment. Left untreated, eye infections can worsen and lead to permanent damage or vision loss.

In this article, we will explore the typical costs involved when taking a cat with an eye infection to the veterinarian. We will look at the key factors that influence the total bill for examination fees, diagnostics, medication and follow-up appointments. Understanding the pricing range can help cat owners plan for this potential veterinary expense.


Common symptoms of a cat eye infection include redness, swelling, and discharge around the eyes. Cats may have watery eyes with yellow or green discharge according to Cat Eye Infection Symptoms. The eyes may appear squinty or half-closed as cats try to relieve discomfort. Excessive blinking and pawing at the eyes are also signs your cat may have an eye infection.

In addition to redness and discharge, the eyes may look cloudy or bluish-gray. The third eyelid may show more than normal. Cats are sensitive to light when their eyes are infected, which leads to more squinting and watering. Overall the eyes will look irritated and uncomfortable if your cat has an eye infection.


There are several potential causes of feline eye infections, including:

Bacteria – Bacterial eye infections are often caused by common bacteria like Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, or Pasteurella. These bacteria can get into a cat’s eye through contaminated fingers, cloth, or eye drops. In some cases, bacteria may get into the eye if the tear ducts become blocked. [1]

Viruses – Viruses like feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected cat and lead to corneal ulcers or conjunctivitis. The viruses attack the cornea, damaging its outer protective layer. [2]

Fungi – While less common, fungal infections caused by fungi like Cryptococcus or Aspergillus can occur if the eye is injured. These infections are more likely in immunocompromised cats. [1]

Foreign objects/trauma – Objects like dust, dirt, smoke, pollen, plant material or hair can get trapped under a cat’s eyelids and cause irritation. Cats can also scratch their eyes by accident, injuring the cornea. [3]

Allergies – Just like respiratory allergies in cats, airborne allergens like pollen or dust mites can trigger itchy, watery eyes. Cats may excessively rub their eyes if they are irritated. Food allergies can also manifest with ocular symptoms. [3]


To diagnose a cat eye infection, a veterinarian will perform a thorough eye exam. They will look for signs of inflammation, discharge, redness, and swelling. An eye stain test may be done to check for ulcers on the eye surface. This involves putting a special dye called fluorescein in the cat’s eye and examining it under a UV light. The dye will illuminate any scratches or ulcers present.

The vet may also take samples of the eye discharge to identify the specific cause of infection through cultures. Common causes of feline eye infections include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Cultures allow vets to determine the exact type of pathogen present so they can prescribe the appropriate medication.

In some cases, further diagnostic imaging may be needed to examine internal ocular structures. This can involve an ophthalmic ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. However, these advanced diagnostics are not necessary for routine eye infections.

After a thorough examination and diagnostic testing, the veterinarian will be able to pinpoint the type of eye infection and best course of treatment for the cat.


Treatment for cat eye infections often involves medicated eye drops or ointments that contain antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals to fight the infection. Some common prescription eye medications used for cat eye infections include:

  • Terramycin Ophthalmic Ointment, which contains the antibiotic oxytetracycline (
  • Neomycin/Polymyxin B eye drops, a combination antibiotic for bacterial infections (
  • Viroptic eye drops containing the antiviral trifluridine (

Your vet may flush your cat’s eyes with a sterile saline solution to remove irritants and discharge. In severe cases of blocked tear ducts, surgery may be recommended to open up the drainage. Most cases of simple eye infections in cats can be treated with prescription medicated drops or ointment and usually clear up within 7-10 days.

Cost Factors

There are several factors that determine the cost of treating a cat eye infection:

Exam fees and diagnostic tests – A standard vet exam to diagnose an eye infection may cost $50-$100. Additional tests like ocular pressure readings, eye staining, and eye cultures can add $20-$75. Severe infections may require x-rays or MRIs costing $75-$400.

Medications – Antibiotic eye drops or ointments typically cost less than $20 per medication. Oral antibiotics may cost less than $40. Multiple medications may be prescribed. Long-term medications increase costs.

Severity of infection – Mild infections can be treated for under $100. Moderate infections needing a few medications may cost $200-$500. Severe infections requiring hospitalization, surgery, or specialist referral can cost $1000-$2000+.

Location and veterinarian – Prices vary by geographic location and individual vet clinic. Specialists tend to charge more than general practice vets. Emergency vet visits also cost more.

Cost Ranges

The cost of treating a cat eye infection can vary significantly depending on the severity of the infection:

Mild infections: For mild eye infections with minor irritation or discharge, the total vet visit may cost $100-$300. This includes the initial exam fee and medications like antibiotic eye drops or ointments.

Moderate infections: For more irritated eyes with swelling, redness, or more discharge/crud buildup, vet visits tend to cost $300-$600. Additional medications, eye flushes, or follow-up vet exams may be needed.

Severe infections: With severe swelling, ulcers, or other damage to structures of the eye, treatment costs often exceed $600 and may be $2,000+ if surgery is required. Hospitalization, specialists, and ongoing care add to the total bill.

Saving on Costs

When faced with an unexpected veterinary expense for a cat eye infection, there are some options to explore to reduce costs:

Pet insurance can cover a portion of veterinary costs. Policies that include wellness coverage may have annual limits for routine care like eye infections. Wellness plans through your vet provide discounted services for a monthly fee.

Nonprofit organizations like the Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program provide financial assistance for urgent vet care if you meet eligibility requirements (Source).

Shop around between regular vets, low-cost clinics, and vet school hospitals which often charge less. Explain your financial constraints to find the most affordable care. Consider payment plans if offered.

While home remedies can provide minor relief, always consult a vet promptly in case specific medication is needed for your cat’s eye infection.

When to Seek Care

It’s important to be aware of any changes to your cat’s eyes. Redness, swelling, excessive tearing, discharge, or irritation are all signs that you should take your cat to the vet. Eye Discharge in Cats: Signs & When to See the Vet says that you should make an appointment right away if you notice anything unusual about your cat’s eyes.

In most cases, you should take your cat to the vet if symptoms don’t improve after 48 hours of home treatment. Persistent redness, swelling, discharge, or squinting are all reasons to seek professional veterinary care for your cat’s eye infection.


There are several steps cat owners can take to help prevent eye infections in their feline companions:

Keeping the eyes clean is important. Gently wipe away any discharge or crust around the eyes daily with a soft, damp cloth. Be careful not to put any pressure on the eyeball. Keeping the area around the eyes clear of discharge can help prevent bacteria from growing.

Monitor your cat’s eyes closely for any early signs of infection like squinting, redness, swelling or discharge. Catching problems early allows for quicker treatment. Be on the lookout for any behavioral changes as well, as your cat may paw at their eyes or rub their face if they are irritated.

Always finish the full course of any eye medications prescribed by your vet. Even if symptoms resolve, stopping the medication early can allow the infection to recur. Follow all label instructions carefully.

Regular veterinary wellness exams allow the vet to inspect the eyes closely for any developing issues. Be sure to mention any eye discharge you’ve noticed so the vet can determine if medication is needed.

Some simple prevention tips include keeping your home free of cigarette smoke, washing hands before handling your cat, and keeping the litter box clean to avoid bacteria buildup.

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