Since Lou (the kitten formerly known as “Luna” before his guardians understood feline anatomy) was a wee fur ball, he’s been prone to tears. They’re sort of reddish-brown and crust on his fur and don’t look all that fun.
The vet explained that he’d probably caught Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (a.k.a. feline herpes) from his mother or another infected cat. Common symptoms may include sneezing, discharge from eyes and nose, congestion, squinting, and lethargy, to name a few. Most of the time, the virus stays with cats for the entirety of their lives (much like human herpes), and symptoms may come and go depending on cats’ stress levels. If your cat has FVR, you may notice that any change in your cat’s living environment (if you move, have a baby, etc.) or even in your routine can trigger symptoms. The virus is highly contagious (among cats—not cats and humans!) and is spread though contact with the aforementioned discharge.
Fortunately, Lou has not manifested severe symptoms. Some days his tears are a little worse than others, but that doesn’t stop him from inflicting terror on cotton mice. While his eyes can be treated with a prescription antibacterial gel, it also helps to keep his eye area clean. Dried, crusty tears can be uncomfortable (I imagine) and leaving them caked on his face probably isn’t doing much for the health of his skin. (Read more about the variety of treatments for FVR on ASCPA).
Petco sells eye-grooming wipes for this very purpose, but their wipes contain parabens—ugh. So I decided to make my own. Of course, cats aren’t the only animals that experience tears—the following DIY pet eye serum may also be used on dogs and other pet friends.
The blend of almond oil and aloe vera gel is designed to soothe, nourish, and protect the sensitive and potentially irritated area around your pet’s eyes. When applied to organic baby wipes, this combo is more effective (in my experience) than ordinary eye wipes. Plus, it’s Lou-approved (purring=approval, right?), and I wouldn’t hesitate to slather this mixture on my own face.
A little more about the ingredients:
Aloe vera is perfect for cooling and calming irritated or chapped skin. This super plant also boasts antiseptic powers helpful in fending off bacteria and viruses.
The rich consistency of sweet almond oil provides for a nice “glide.” This nurturing oil moisturizes skin and reduces inflammation—in fact, sweet almond oil is recommended to those who suffer from eczema! Finally, unrefined, organic oils make great cleansers—I often switch between coconut and almond oil to remove my eye makeup—including mascara.
Begin by mixing equal parts sweet almond oil, aloe vera gel, and filtered water. If the consistency is too thick to dispense easily from the bottle of your choice, add more water.
Cut a small stack of organic baby wipes into your desired size (which may vary depending on the size of your pet’s face and the affected area). When not in use, store in a zip lock to keep moist.
Right before using, shake the bottle of eye serum to blend ingredients. Apply a pea-sized amount to a square wipe, and thoroughly spread the serum over the wipe. Now you’re ready to go!
Note: This serum is for external use only. Discontinue use if it appears your pet is allergic to any of the ingredients.
When Mary Met Lou: A Story of a Rescue Kitten
Also in Pets: The Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding Your Pet a Vegan Diet
Photos: Mary Hood