Cat Scratched My Eye – What Should I Do?

close up of a grey cats planted open paw with claws fully extended

Help, my cat scratched my eye – what should I do? First things first, do a little precautionary first aid, and then get yourself off to see a medical professional just to be on the safe side!

A cat scratch to your eyelid or eyeball is not unheard of but is often less serious than you might imagine. Let’s go through the do’s and don’ts if your cat scratches your eye…

How To Treat A Cat Scratch On The Eye

Whether your cat was acting viciously, had a playful accident, or was walking across your face whilst you slept, a cat scratched eye area can be worrisome.

Most of the time you end up with a scratch to the eyelid or the area around the eye that can sting. Sometimes you end up with a scratch on the surface of the eye – but rarely do you end up with a full penetrative cut of the eyeball. 

However it happens to you, here is the guidance you need to avert any serious outcomes.

cat scratch to eye on child

Wash The Eye Out With Water

First up, use saline or plain, clean drinking water to wash your eyes out. Give your eye a proper bathing.

Ideally, you are looking to wash away any really fine debris that might have been on your cat’s claws and become lodged in the eye or in the eye wound.

Blink Lots

Next, blink lots. This is a natural way of washing the eye and ejecting any bits that shouldn’t be in there.

Move the eyeball around whilst you blink to give the best coverage to your eyeball and ensure that any microscopic debris is naturally washed away and ejected by your eye.

Put On Some Shades

It is a good idea to put on some shades. Apart from helping to stop you from inadvertently poking or rubbing your eyes, they can also rest the eye by reducing glare.

If you have had a bad scratch on the front of the eye some sunglasses can reduce the sensory input into the eye and keep things a little more relaxed until you have received proper medical attention.

a red tabby cat with orange eyes sitting swiping with a paw against black background

Do Not Use Eye Drops Or Over The Counter Ointments

Don’t be tempted to use eye drops or over-the-counter ointments. They may not be suited for an open eye injury or they may give you a false sense of confidence – I already have drops or medication, I don’t need any more help! Maybe or maybe not… 

Drops suitable for relaxing an eye or coping with an allergic reaction probably won’t offer any treatment benefit for a scratched eye! Likewise, an ointment may not contain medication in the appropriate concentration for the type of eye injury you have. Let a medical professional decide.

Do Not Wear Any Contact Lenses

If you wear contact lenses as standard and were not at the time of the incident then do not go and put contact lenses in.

They may aggravate the damaged area of the eye or make the damage even worse.

If you need contacts to drive to somewhere you can get medical attention you are going to have to take a cab!

Go See A Doctor.

Go see a doctor if your cat has scratched your eyelid or eyeball. You might be tempted to avoid seeing a doctor if the scratch seems innocuous or gives you little trouble, but the point here is that the scratch might be of little concern but the bacteria and dirt on your cat’s claws probably present a big problem. 

A cat scratch anywhere on the body can make you sick or turn bad after a few hours. If the scratch is near a part of your body that is so sensitive then it really needs immediate attention just to ensure problems don’t develop later.

Go see a doctor, drop in at an A&E or hit up a pharmacist if necessary to ensure you get on top of the problem.

How Long Will It Take To Fix

Generally, your average cat scratch to the eyelid or outer eyeball will take 1-3 days to heal. Most scratches are surface abrasions to the eyelid or out eye rather than deep penetrative wounds that cause big issues.

man with infected eye

Can I Go Blind?

If treated It is very unlikely you will go blind but untreated cat scratch can fester and cause infection. It is the infection that usually causes the damage and hence why even slight scratches and wounds really need medical attention to be on the safe side!

Should I Get My Cat Declawed

If your child or baby has been scratched inadvertently by the cat it is easy to think the worse and imagine a scenario where your cat might inflict real damage on your child’s eyes. 

In some circumstances, you might think that declawing the cat could be a suitable option to reduce the risk of the cat being around the child or baby.

We would be against this course of action. First off it creates pain for your cat – many declawed cats suffer from ongoing pain after the claws are removed – imagine having your fingernails pulled!

Secondly, unintended consequences occur. Your cat may develop litter issues due to paw pain and you end up with a cat that urinates outside the box. 

A better solution is to either fit claw sheaths to your cat so that they are unable to scratch and cause injury or to keep the cat away from the child or educate the child as to how to behave around the cat – sometimes some direction toward a toddler is all that is needed.

Final Thoughts

Even if a cat’s scratch to the eye area seems minor or if you get a scratch directly on the eyeball you need to visit a medical professional to ensure the issue is treated properly and the risk of poor outcomes is reduced.

Although most cat scratches to the eye area resolve without issue the area is far too delicate for scratches to be left to heal without precautionary treatment taking place.