The Veterinarian said- “CONJUNCTIVITIS”!

authorLucile Gordon Press               Presca RagaMuffins
Last evening my five month old baby RagaMuffin walked into my office and looked at me in a peculiar way. I looked again and noticed her left eye was bloodshot.
I had absolutely no idea what had happened to her. As a former ICU nurse all sorts of scenarios were racing through my mind. The ugly voice in my head was thinking one of her feline housemates had scratched her and it was a corneal injury, maybe she accidentally scratched herself, maybe her blood pressure spiked and caused a vessel to pop, maybe she got into something, but what?
Of course it was the end of the day and a visit to the Vet wasn’t an option. I went to bed and prayed whatever it was wouldn’t get significantly worse overnight.
Needless-to-say, I didn’t sleep well.
Today, off to the Vet. He took her temperature, “normal”; palpated her belly, looked into her ears (clean), and then got his ophthalmoscope (thingy to look into eyes) and said, “it’s Conjunctivitis”! The ugly voice in my head was shut down but I felt awful and guilty. How had this happened? What had I missed in her care? All of my food and water bowls are top grade stainless steel; they are washed and sanitized after every meal. I don’t allow bowl swapping, my other cats are healthy, so I didn’t think she didn’t get it from one of her feline housemates. Litter boxes are cleaned twice daily and they are washed and sanitized each week. Bedding is washed once a week with non-scented, hypoallergenic Dreft detergent.
Her Vet assured me this is quite common in cats. Hah … not my cats! I had a Maine Coon who lived for 19 healthy years, and I have a 6 year old rescue cat who is healthy, a healthy 2 1/2 year old RagaMuffin, and another 5 month old RagaMuffin kitten who is healthy, thank G-d. Surely there was something I had missed. But what?
Solution … go to everyone’s source of information … the internet. Time to study Feline Conjunctivitis to combat the possibility of a reoccurrence.
Conjunctivitis / Cornell University College of Veternary Medicine: 
“Conjunctivitis, the most common of all feline disorders, is an inflammation of the thin mucous membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the inner surface of cat’s eyelids and coats the outer surface of the eyeball. Many cats will experience at least a mild episode of the condition at some point in their lives”. Thomas Kern, DVM, associate professor of ophthalmology at Cornell University of Veternary Medicine says,”the conjunctiva serves several purposes. Most important, this slippery membrane provides the eyeball with lubrication as a conduit for tears that fall onto its surface and are distributed by what he refers to as “the blinking phenomenon.” The conjunctiva harbors certain certain antibodies that may help an animal ward off some eye infections. Nevertheless, there are several microorganisms that cats commonly carry, and the feline system’s immune response to these bacteria and viruses is responsible for the great majority of feline conjunctivitis cases.” 
Clinical signs of the condition can be evident in one or both eyes and tends to cause the eyelid to become swollen and red. Other signs include squinting, frequent blinking, and the presence of a discharge that, depending on the cause, can be either colorless and watery or thick and dark colored.
Dr. Kern adds, “All cats, regardless of breed or gender, are susceptible to conjunctivitis, and the condition is not heritable. This infection occurs primarily in young animals although it can occur in older cats. Most affected cats will develop an immunity to the condition and will not experience recurrences, Dr. Kern notes that episodes of conjunctivitis may recur periodically in those animals who carry the herpesvirus-just as cold sores appear from time to time in humans who carry it.”
In most cases, according to Dr. Kern, conjunctivitis “will self resolve with no medication.” However, owners should seek veterinary care if your cat has apparent eye discomfort and discharge to rule out more serious eye disorders. Most veterinarians will  prescribe antibiotic eye drops or an ointment to be used as directed for two to three weeks. He notes, “if we suspect that we’re dealing with herpesvirus, we won’t be able to cure it but we will try to eliminate the infection from the surface of the eye and let it heal.”
Conclusion: What did I do wrong? What could I have done to prevent this? Nothing!
I hope this information helps other RagMuffin cat newbies combat the anxiety and self-blame when their furbaby contracts conjunctivitis. Take a deep breath, see your veterinarian and continue to enjoy those purrs and nosebumps.