Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Problem Pupils or Frightened Feline?

Boo was on high alert after arriving at the ACR shelter. He kept his pupils dilated all the way for weeks in order to see anything coming his way.
A couple of months ago ACR took in 4-year-old Boo. Take one look at his eyes, and you can see what inspired his name. His pupils are almost always maximally dilated, like someone snuck up behind him while he was sleeping and screamed BOO! So, is he sick? Can he see? How bright must the world be with pupils so large!

Thankfully, we’ve found that Boo has no health issues. Some cats just have unique pupils that stay mostly dilated. Boo is also very shy. He’s the type to sit in a corner where he can see everything coming and can’t be snuck up on. While he is prone to minor freak-outs over loud noises, he’s made great progress opening up and learning to trust us. Now, if you get him in a quiet room one-on-one you'll see his pupils shrink and hear his purr machine start right up. 

As we mentioned in a previous blog about a cat’s third eyelid, a cat’s eyes can be indicators of an underlying health issue. A trip to the vet is definitely warranted if you notice a change in the appearance of your cat’s eyes. A visible third eyelid, discharge in the fur around the eye, and squinting or holding one eye shut can be signs of infection or injury.

Boo last week, finally relaxing his mind and pupils.
Key-Gaskell Syndrome, for example, affects the autonomic nervous system and can present as two differently sized pupils. Also known as feline dysautonomia, Key-Gaskell usually sets in over three or four days and other symptoms can include unresponsive pupils (don’t change with light), avoidance of light, coughing, weakness, and a long list of GI tract problems. 

Unfortunately the cause of Key-Gaskell Syndrome is unknown and the symptoms can only be treated. Many cats do not recover from Key-Gaskell. Those that do can take up to a year and still have permanent nervous system issues.

Boo’s pupils do react to light and he has no other symptoms. He’s available for adoption and would be a great fit for a quiet and calm home. Give him a little bit of time and space and we’re sure he’ll switch from nervous to nuzzle.

The Merck Veterinary Manual – Feline dysautonomia
Vetstream – Feline dysautonomia

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