In my years of animal rescue, I have encountered a number of ruptured eyes in cats and they never fail to set off my gross-o-meter. When a cat eye ruptures, the eyeball first bulges, and then “blows out” much like a bad tire. When the eye bursts, or ruptures, the content spill out of the eyeball, leaving a mess in the socket that often looks much like the consistency of egg whites. A ruptured eye is not a pretty sight. If the injury is not found until much later, as often happens with rescue cats, the eye and face may be so covered with discharge and grime that the rupture cannot be seen. A cat with a ruptured eye will be in pain, and this condition warrants an immediate trip to the vet. Unfortunately, the only treatment for a ruptured eye is surgical removal, and you will have a one-eyed cat on your hands. (Some of my favorite cats are one-eyed cat, though, so don’t let it get you down.)
What causes this unpleasant condition? A cat with a ruptured eye likely received an injury-a scratch or a poke-to its large and delicate eye, and that injury developed into a corneal ulcer which either went untreated or else deteriorated rapidly, and then the eye ruptured. Corneal ulcers can also result from bacterial or fungal infections, or from a lack of sufficient layer of wet protective tears on the eyeball-a condition most common in Persian cats. Any corneal ulcer, regardless of cause, can develop into a ruptured eye if left untreated.
If a cat’s eye ruptures and needs to be removed by surgery, it is helpful to know what to expect. The cat can usually return home the same day as the surgery to remove the ruptured eye, and may have either regular stitches or dissolvable stitches. Small amounts of clear or bloody discharge from either the surgery site or the nose are normal, but any white or yellow discharge should be immediately reported to the veterinarian and is a sign of infection. (Consult your vet for specific information for your situation with a cat with a ruptured eye.) Within 6 weeks, the surgery site should be painless and hair will grow over the site of the ruptured eye, leaving you with a beautiful one-eyed cat.
Any abnormality in your cat’s eye deserves immediate concern and attention, as even the most minor issues can rapidly progress to a severe problem. Contact your veterinarian or a cat rescue for advice, and keep the cat separated from other animals so as not to further aggravate the injury. Ruptured eyes in cats can be scary, but when treated correctly, the cat will be fine and can live a long and healthy life.