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Why is My Cat Keeping One Eye Closed? 10 Reasons

Everybody knows that cats like to blink their eyes at you. People especially like it when that blink happens slowly. Most agree a cat blinking its big eyes in slow motion is a sign of affection, and it is likely a sign that your cat is really enjoying your company. Some even romanticize the action as an expression of love from your cat. So why is my cat keeping one eye closed?

From time to time, however, you may notice that your cat seems to be keeping one eye closed consistently. This is not a wink. When it’s a consistent case of one eye simply not being open, it may be a sign that something is not quite right.  

What does that mean? There may be one of several possible conditions present. 

Cats’ eyes, like our very own, are precious. No doubt it is worth making sure that your cat’s eyes are in good health and that there are no preventable problems at any given time.  Here are some reasons your cat may be keeping one eye closed.

tabby-eye-closed why is my cat keeping one eye closed

Image by mint910630 from Pixabay 


Why is My Cat Keeping One Eye Closed? 10 Reasons

The possible causes for your cat’s eye staying consistently closed range quite significantly. The problem could be as simple as a foreign object that has entered the eye, just like what happens to humans. On the other hand, it could be a sign of a more severe and complicated pause. 

1. Cataracts in Cats

Just like humans, older cats sometimes suffer from cataracts. This is often due to the onset of a disease like diabetes. It also usually features inflammation of the uvea, which contains the iris part of the eye. Cataracts appear as a cloud formation over the eye. 

The cloud in question blocks light from getting through to the other sensory parts of the eye structure. As a result, your cat may eventually experience varying degrees of blindness, which may be progressive in nature.

If the cataracts are caused by diabetes, your cat may also suffer additional symptoms like excessive thirst or excessive urination. Sometimes cataracts can be treated with surgery. But if it’s not too serious, many cats can survive with cataracts. 

You might enjoy reading my article on Why do Cats Yawn?

white cat with one blue and one amber eye

2. Cat Eye Infection

Cat eye infections are relatively common. They can be caused by bacteria and result in conditions like conjunctivitis. You may need to consult a vet because the condition could also be viral.

You may notice discoloration around the eye. The eye will be held closed and possibly suffer excessive tearing or some discharge of green or yellow fluid.

A cat will hold an infected eye closed because of possible pain or light sensitivity. Treating an eye infection in your cat is not as simple as treating one for yourself.  In the case of a viral infection, feline herpes, for example, can be a cause.  At any rate, it’s best to let an expert take care of a consistent infection. 


Image by Sa Ka from Pixabay 

3. Corneal Ulcer

Corneal ulcers sound painful and are a slightly more involved condition. The corneal layers of the eye have been depleted, and further damage may be caused by trauma.  Usually, there’s a transparent film over the eye, and there’s lots of discharge and cloudiness in the area. 

Much like a general infection, there will be lots of redness and sensitivity to light. Sometimes the condition can be treated with antibiotics, but a more severe condition may need surgery. 

Cat hides its eyes with its paws.

4. Dry Eye – A Cat Condition

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), or dry eye,  is an unfortunate condition where your cat’s eyes are not producing enough tears to clean the eye routinely and naturally.

The eyeball and structure are therefore dry and may emit a yellow discharge. You will also notice your cat blinking very excessively. In most cases, a vet can prescribe medication to help manage this condition.

5. Pink Eye

As mentioned previously, cats can get conjunctivitis due to bacterial or viral infections. But they can also suffer from allergies, which may lead to some painful or at least uncomfortable eye conditions. 


Image by Jordan Al from Pixabay 

6. Foreign Objects 

Cats like to roam around outdoors and in all sorts of nooks and crannies. Naturally, a foreign object can become lodged in the eye. Like with humans, anything from dust and grass to sand can get in there. It will cause some swelling and some redness, and your cat will likely keep their eye closed for the pain.

In most cases, an object will eventually be washed away by tears. 

7. Glaucoma in Cats

Glaucoma can happen if an eye infection goes untreated for a while.  Some breeds are also more prone to glaucoma (see below). Certain kinds of injury or tumors might inform other causes. 

White Khao Manee cat with different color eyes.

The primary explanation is that fluid builds up in the eye and doesn’t drain effectively due to swelling, blockage, or other reasons. This causes lots of pain, and sometimes your cat will not be able to open its eye. 

This pain can be very traumatic for a cat, and you will likely see changes in its behavior. It may hide from you or seem to cower for no reason.

A vet can prescribe a special medication to take the swelling down. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause severe damage and even the loss of an eye.

8. Injury To Your Cat’s Eye

Injuries to the eyes can occur, and they are relatively common. Scratches to the cornea are common occurrences, especially in kittens, who roughhouse and claw as they learn to play and hunt. A scratch on the cornea can become infected, resulting in swelling, discharge, and a closed eye. 


Image by Alexa from Pixabay 

9. Problems With Your Cat’s Eyelid

Sometimes it’s not the eye itself that is infected or damaged. It could, in fact, be a condition called blepharitis, which affects the eyelid itself. Portions of the eyelid can become flaky, and they may swell, preventing the eye from opening. 

In many cases, this condition can be treated with regular bathing in warm water or an eye cleaner. But if it persists, see your vet. 

10. Entropion

Entropion is a condition where an eyelid droops forward, causing irritation and damage to the eyeball and cornea. If this causes discomfort and pain, your cat will likely keep its eye closed for long periods.

Eye Problems in Certain Cat Breeds

These problems listed above are by no means limited to certain cat breeds. But it is worth knowing that some cat breeds are more prone to eye problems than others. Here is a brief rundown.  


Photo by Tranmautritam of Pexels 

Brachycephalic Cats 

Brachycephalic cats have a smaller head and a particular sort of head shape. Usually, their snouts are also shorter. In a sense, they can be said to have flat faces compared to other cats. The same condition exists in dogs, though sometimes with different resulting problems.

In cats, usually, the condition creates problems with enough tears being produced to naturally wash the eye. These breeds, in particular, may be more prone to the condition.

Ginger flat faced cat with amber eyes up close
Exotic Shorthair cat

Final Thoughts on Why Your Cat is Keeping One Eye Closed

It pays to be observant when it comes to your cat. Cats tend to be a lot less obvious if anything is wrong with them, and something as subtle as a closed eye may well go unnoticed.

But don’t ignore it. Try to get a handle on what the cause might be as soon as possible to prevent any extended discomfort. Note as well that letting the condition go untreated may result in more serious and long-term damage to the eyes. 

With all that said, many of the causes are not that serious and relatively common, as you can see from the list above. Keep an eye out, so to speak, and hopefully, you and your cat can connect with complete and loving eye contact for many years to come. 

Tabby cat asleep with its paw over its eye.

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