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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 64899
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 48 years of experience.
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Our 14 week old kitten has watery discharge from his left

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Hi, our 14 week old kitten has watery discharge from his left eye. He’s acting fine, still playing and eating normally but seems uncomfortable and tried to rub it. We’ve wiped it gently but not sure if this could be something serious
JA: Hi there. I'll do all I can to help. When did you notice the kitten had this watery eye? Does he have any allergies?
Customer: We noticed it this morning, he hasn’t had anything like this before and we’re not aware of any allergies
JA: What's the kitten's name?
Customer: Sesame
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know about Sesame?
Customer: He hasn’t been vaccinated yet and we have another older cat (about 10 months) named Dorito, he hasn’t had his vaccines yet either and we’re worried in case this is contagious
Dr. Michael Salkin is typing. Please be patient. I have 50 years of experience in canine, feline, avian, rodent, and rabbit medicine and surgery.

I'm sorry to hear about this with Sesame.  If we can rule out simple injury, the epiphora (excessive tearing) you're seeing is due to the feline herpesvirus (FHV-1), particularly if you're also noticing sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, or dyspnea (difficulty breathing).  Is that the case, please?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
He definitely hasn’t sustained an injury and we have noticed him sneezing more the past few days, when I cleaned him I did see a little bit of discharge from his nose but we haven’t seen him having difficulty breathing. Both cats are strictly indoor, is it possible we’ve brought the virus inside?

FHV-1 is endemic in the environment and impossible to avoid. We vaccinate against it but cats are exposed to the virus within hours of being born and so vaccination isn't completely protective.

Here's more in this regard:

FHV-1 is expected to go into remission unaided within 1-3 weeks. The bacteria Mycoplasma and Chlamydophila can be found concurrently with FHV-1 or as sole infecting agents but they, too, should go into remission unaided in that time frame. In the case in which my patient doesn't improve within the initial 10 days from the onset of symptoms, the antibiotic of choice - doxycycline - should be prescribed by Sesame's attending vet to address those bacteria.

Over the counter (not in all states) Terramycin ophthalmic ointment* is a good choice for addressing bacterial (not viral) conjunctivitis. Without time-consuming testing, we can't tell if a conjunctivitis is bacterial or viral and so presumptive use of that ointment is reasonable. Dosing is a 1/4" ribbon directly on to the cornea (clear window of the eye) thrice daily for a minimum of 10 consecutive days. Most often in very young kittens, FHV-1 can cause such damage to the cornea that it can rupture leading to loss of the eye.

Antibiotics don't address viruses such as FHV-1 but Sesame's vet can prescribe the systemic antiviral drug famciclovir if the vet thinks that a serious cause of FHV-1 is brewing. Antiviral ophthalmic products are also available.

As long as  continues to eat, drink, and act normally in spite of the clinical signs of upper respiratory infection, and infected eyes don't worsen, Sesame doesn't need to be attended to by his vet. However, an inappetent cat will benefit from supplemental fluids given subcutaneously by their vet, a highly palatable and syringeable convalescent food can be prescribed, and you can purchase over the counter nasal saline drops in your local drug store to place in the upturned nostrils of a cat every few hours to help clear its nasal passages and breathe easier.

Please respond with additional questions and concerns if you wish.


If you can't find Terramycin ophthalmic ointment over the counter and a vet's attention isn't possible here's the next best choice: Discontinue its use if you see worsening rather than improvement.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
That clarifies a lot, thank you so much for your help! We shall keep observing him and visit the vet if his condition worsens, take care :)

You're quite welcome.  Once well, be sure to get him vaccinated. If you need clarification on anything I've posted or have additional questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to ask.

Dr. Michael Salkin and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you for your kind accept.  I appreciate it.