Swooner came home a few days ago with a mucky eye. This is not unusual; he is a curious boy and tends to stick his nose into everything.
He’s come home with oil on his face after helping our neighbour inspect his truck; with yellow pollen from sniffing the other neighbour’s flowers; and with streaks of mud from messing about in the storm drain.
Then there are his allergies. When we open the door in the morning, Swooner and I take a deep breath of fresh air – and then we compete in who sneezes the most. He usually bests me, sneezing half a dozen times with elegant precision.
On high pollen-count days, Swooner wheezes, sneezes and I help him out by wiping his face with a damp cloth.
But this watery eye was different. For one thing, there was steady leakage. For another, it was only one eye.
Normally, my first reaction to any cat health issue is to box my pet up, and tote him straight to the vet. Cats are so small that by the time anything shows, it’s a fair shake that it’s dangerous to delay.
This time, I hesitated because I thought I knew what had happened. You see, Swooner has been pestering Guido. In his hero worship for the big cat, he meows at his pal, jumps out at him and generally runs him ragged. Guido normally takes it but there’s the occasional growl. Sometimes, when tested to the max, Swooner has his ears boxed.
I’d seen Swooner pull Guido’s tail and been thoroughly chastised for it. Guido gave him just one whap but it was a glorious southpaw that sent the kitten tumbling. And it was that side of Swooner’s face that was troubling him.
Checking the kitten’s carefully, I saw the eye was fine, not clouded, bleeding or obviously damaged. The watery bit was the usual brownish colour and consistency. There was just more of it than usual.
So, I thought I’d go pick up some drops, and give it a day before taking it to the next level.
Last time we had eye medicine, it was a tiny tube of ointment. This time, we got some super snazzy eye drops. One drop twice a day, was the recommendation.
When I came home, I knew this was going to be a battle. Cats loathe medicine and my Swooner is a strong and determined little monster.
But I had two aces up my sleeve.
First, I think ahead and so I’ve been training Swooner to lie on his back in my lap. I do it almost every day, turning him upside-down and rubbing his paw pads. He loves it and he knows it’s always followed by a treat.
Second, I don’t play fair. I take complete advantage of my superior size. Also, I’m whip-fast.
Preparing for the evil deed, I took the top of the eye drops and put them on the table. Then I got Swooner.
I put him on his back, and cupped his head with my left hand. As I slid my hand over his head, taking a firm hold on his ear so I could tip his head back, I picked up the meds with my right hand. Before Swooner quite realised what was going on, I had dripped the drop into his eye.
Swooner sat up and slid to the floor. His expression said clearly that this was a violation, but he wasn’t sure what had happened. He looked at me, he looked at the medicine, and then he got the message.
Cats are tremendous actors and Swooner is the undiscovered talent of the century. He fell to the ground, pawed his face, and meowed. Then, getting to his paws, he ran around the room, yowling. In case we didn’t get that he was an abused cat, he stopped, glared at me, and meowed again.
I don’t speak Cat but this was clear as day. Swooner was saying, “May Bastet, Goddess of Cats, see and punish you for this indignity!”
It was a brilliant piece of theatre and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Swooner also enjoyed the treat he got after. But there was a glint in his eyes that promised I wouldn’t catch him unprepared twice. Swooner was planning to battle.
The next morning, I set up the meds again and picked him up. This time, he put up a paw that said he would not take mistreatment lying down. So I cupped his chin, tilted his head back, and popped in the drop as he meowed in protest.
That evening, I swept him up and put him on his back into the deep cushion. A hand on his ear and the dirty deed was done.
Thankfully, eye drops are very, very easy to administer, and basically, me being bigger and ruthless, meant that Swooner didn’t stand a chance. He pushed and shoved, but I was too big and too quick for him.
He was fuming but after a few days, his eye was perfectly clear. I don’t expect him to be grateful; he doesn’t get the connection between a sore eye and medicine. As far as he’s concerned, he had a weepy eye and to make things worse, I pestered him with some weird torture.
That was last week and this week, it is I who have the weepy eyes. I have a stinking cold, the first one in well over a year, and I am miserable. I’m coughing, sneezing, and feverish.
Swooner is trying to be sympathetic, sitting on me and purring, but he also has a glint in his eye. I know what’s going through that little cat brain. Swooner’s thinking it’s Bastet’s revenge. And a well deserved punishment it is, too.
Cats’ eye boogers, should you worry?
Cat eye boogers are fairly normal, and most of the time, your pet will wipe them away with a swipe of the paw.
“Female cats usually groom more than males,” notes Nur Aishah Abdullah, 26, veterinarian at Animal Clinic in ss14, Subang Jaya. “If you see a black or brown flake here or there, that’s OK.”
“When the odd flake turns into a discharge, whether clear, yellowish, greenish or bloody, that’s a problem. If it’s not seen to, your pet’s eyes will become puffy and swollen. If left untreated, the irritation will increase and may lead to blindness.”
A discharge can be a symptom of a disease such as a respiratory infection, an eye disorder, or an allergic reaction. In addition, commonplace irritations can also be culprits for eye issues.
“Cats are curious and like to investigate,” Nur Aishah smiles. “They might crawl under a cupboard and get into contact with dust, play in your bathroom and get soap in their eyes, or dive into the plants in your garden. Plus, they might get an insect bite near the eye.”
The important things to remember are these:
Never use human medicine for your pet. Animals and people have different body chemistries; using human medicine on your pet can blind or kill. If you want to wipe, use clean water.
If you’re not sure, take the kitty to the vet. If you’re a new pet owner, or not certain what you’re seeing, then don’t take the risk of delaying. In the end, it can cost you much more.