Just as my Emma girl has started to regrow her fur, Ella seemed to have a major issue with one of her eyes. A couple mornings ago, she was walking around with one eye closed or occasionally barely cracked open in a squint. She’s a little quirky, so sometimes she does the one-eyed cat thing like she’s trying to sleep on one side and keep a lookout for the other three cats with the other. But this was clearly a behavior due to some discomfort that was alarming.
I decided to keep an eye on it over the next few hours while doing a bit of research. I figured if it was a bit of dust that she had gotten in her eye, it would clear up fairly quickly. The other possibility was that she had taken a claw to the face while playing with the other cats because wrestling is a big deal around here. A couple hours later, she’s still insistent on keeping her eye closed, and it’s looking weepy and a tad swollen.
Of course, I wanted to give her some herbal support. We don’t take antibiotics in this house for reasons you can read here, and it’s been my experience that vets tend to use those as a catch-all for mystery issues like this. Since we were only on day 1 of the problem, I wanted to give my home remedies a fair shot before escalating the issue.
My trusty herbal encyclopedia for pets turned up two pairs of herbs that I could use as a tea diluted with saline solution to wash her eye: raspberry leaf or nettles and Oregon grape root or goldenseal. I had all but the goldenseal, so I decided to use both raspberry and nettles with Oregon grape root to make my tea. Because it gets diluted, I only needed a small amount of tea for the wash.
I used half a cup of water with 1/4 tsp of each herb and allowed it to steep until it cooled. Once cooled, I triple strained the tea and allowed it to sit on the counter for a couple hours to allow any particulates to settle. Because this tea is applied to the eye, it is extremely important to ensure any powder is excluded from the final wash. I used a syringe to extract about 1/3 tsp of liquid off the surface of the final cup of tea to further avoid any settled debris. I combined the tea in a shot glass with 10 mL of saline solution to mix it and then took 4-5 mL of the mixture into the syringe.
Getting The Eye Wash In The Eye (Without Losing An Eye)
Now came the tricky part. Tim held Ella with her head pinned to the side so that I could administer the eye wash in a way that it would run from her nose to her cheek instead of into the middle of her face. We had to jointly encourage her eyelids to peep open enough for the wash to actually get into her eye instead of just rolling off her fur.
Shockingly, she didn’t protest that much. I think it must have felt good to her because she is our biggest fighter when it comes to stuff like this. The claws come out at bath time or when she’s been misbehaving and needs a talking to. This is a girl that likes her paws planted firmly on the ground and dares you to scold her when she pees on the floor knowing full well she’s not supposed to. Perks of not getting a female cat spayed, I guess.
Immediately, she was opening her eye wider than she had all day. This first wash got her to probably 80% better.
Ella scurried off to take a nap, a little offended at what had just happened despite her compliance. About 4 hours later before we went to bed, we gave her a second wash of another 4-5 mL of the saline-diluted tea. She knew what was coming this time and was less enthusiastic than round 1. However, we could get her eye open more than before and help ensure that any physical thing that might have been bothering her eye had been washed away.
The next morning, her eye was almost completely back to normal. She seemed to be babying it a little bit, but I’m guessing there was some residual irritation. I could see maybe the slightest bit of swelling remained, but the excessive squinting from the day before was done. The weeping that had progressively gotten worse throughout the day before had also stopped completely. I put the leftover tea in the refrigerator, so it would be on hand if it starts looking like she needs one more pass. But at this point, she’s looks almost healed up.
(Note: Please make sure that the wash is room temp before putting it on your pet’s eye. Nobody likes hot or cold liquid in their eyes.)
About The Herbs
Why does this herbal tea do the trick? Raspberry leaf can help with symptomatic relief of conjunctivitis and its astringency helps to relieve itchiness. Nettles have anti-inflammatory properties that are particularly good for reducing the effects of allergies. Oregon grape root has powerful cleansing properties and is known for treating conjunctivitis by reducing infection and inflammation.