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Why does my cat have so many legañas?

To all those who love cats who can not resist the temptation to help everyone who meows incessantly under a car, it has crossed our minds to think about the cause of that poor man Kitty has so many scythes I can not even open my eyes.

Beyond the helplessness that the dispersion of the litter implies, and of the helplessness that supposes not to see in this critical stage, there are many guilty involved in the answer to the question of why your cat has so many legañas. Therefore, in this article, we will introduce you to the most habitual.

Feline herpesvirus type 1

The feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1) is one of those responsible for what is known as “feline flu” It has ocular and respiratory tract tropism, that is, it causes a picture that we can simplify by calling it conjunctivitis and upper respiratory problems: sinusitis, sneezing and rhinorrhea (nasal discharge), etc.

Almost no kitten in a litter will get rid of it if the mother is a carrier, since the infection is reactivated in her with the stress of childbirth, although it has remained dormant in her for quite some time. This virus can affect kittens even when they are in the womb, in which case they will be born with the eyeball already lost. It usually leads to acute infections in cats less than 3 months, and moderate or latent in adults who have managed to control the initial infection thanks to a competent immune system.


At the ocular level, it can lead to numerous clinical manifestations that have a common denominator: appearance of many legañas in the cat, of different viscosity and color. In summary, what happens in these ocular processes is that a tear deficit is generated, thus predominating the mucous and lipid part of it over the watery portion, and that is why the legañas arise. In addition, it has the following symptoms:

  • Blepharitis: inflammation of the eyelids, which become stuck by ocular secretion.
  • Uveitis: inflammation of the anterior chamber of the eye.
  • Keratitis: inflammation of the cornea.
  • Corneal ulcer.
  • Corneal abduction: a part of the dead cornea is already “kidnapped” in the eye, giving rise to a dark spot.


After the infection by herpesvirus, the inviting bacteria can get to complicate the picture. The use of local therapies with eye drops Antivirals, such as famciclovir, quite recent, or acyclovir, and the control of opportunistic bacteria with Antibiotics It is main, as well as the lubrication and cleaning of the secretions on a regular basis. They are usually long treatments and require a lot of dedication on our part.

In any case of cat litter production, our veterinarian will surely perform the so-called Schirmer Test, which measures the production of tear, before starting to apply eye drops.

And the infection by FHV-1 lasts forever?

If a cat overcomes the acute infection without damage, although there is always a sequela in the form of a corneal lesion, it will remain as chronic carrier, reactivating the infection every so often, and giving rise to milder pictures, which sometimes even go unnoticed, if it is vaccinated against herpesviruses. We usually notice that our cat “winks” an eye, or remains like a “weeping cat”, due to the regular secretion that we observe in the lacrimal groove.

Feline calicivirus

The calicivirus is another responsible for the “feline flu”, along with the previous one. It can affect the eyes exclusively, or cause a respiratory picture together with the ocular secretion. But it can also occur with ulcers in the oral mucosa without further symptoms, for example.

Although the trivalent vaccine in cats, which includes FHV-1, calicivirus and panleukopenia, protects them against infection, there is two problems:

  • There are many different strains of calicivirus that can not be included in the same vaccine, which also mutate constantly, while there are only one of the FHV-1, fortunately.
  • Normally, the vaccines begin to be given after two months, and the kitten may have already suffered the infection.

After infection, the virus is excreted steadily, with frequent relapse, either of conjunctivitis alone, or with associated respiratory signs such as cough, sinusitis, sneezing.


Almost always accompanied by respiratory signs, it is most likely that a oral antibiotic that is also excreted by tear, controlling with it the secondary infection by bacteria. If our veterinarian deems it appropriate, you can tell us an antibiotic and / or anti-inflammatory eye drop, if the conjunctiva is very affected. Since tear production is usually diminished, it is a widely used option. Antivirals do not have the same efficacy as in FHV-1.

Diagnosis through serological tests It is the most used, as in the case of herpesvirus, although clinical suspicion and response to treatment may be sufficient.

Feline chlamydiosis

The bacteria Chlamydophila felis It does not participate in feline influenza, but it can appear in the eye secondary to a viral infection, taking advantage of the lowering of defenses.

It usually causes the affected cat to acute infection, with intense ocular secretion, mucopurulent and great inflammation of the conjunctiva.

The treatment for feline chlamydiosis, once identified by laboratory tests (conjunctiva sample is taken with a swab and sent to the laboratory for culture), is based on ointments or eye drops of a concrete group of antibiotics (tetracyclines) for several weeks.

If the infection and production of legumes from our cat’s eye does not remit with habitual eye drops, our veterinarian will suspect this bacterium in the reviews, and surely ask for specific tests to isolate it and proceed to the correct treatment.

Legañas in flat cats

In brachycephalic breeds (flat cats like the Persian or exotic), it is very common to find secretions in the lacrimal groove constantly, since these cats they are tending to live with legañas.

For the conformation of the head in these breeds, their nasolacrimal ducts can become clogged, overflowing the tear to the outside and the production remaining dry and stuck in the medial angle of the eye. The final appearance is a viscous crust or brown legaña, and the feeling of lack of cleanliness in the area, including redness in the conjunctiva. In addition, their eyes protrude from the profile (bulging eyes), and they may suffer from dryness.

La daily cleansing of secretions To prevent them from drying out and forming wounds, either with physiological saline or with specific products, it is essential in these cats. If our veterinarian considers it appropriate, you can recommend the use of artificial tears to prevent corneal problems due to dryness. Do not miss our article to learn how to clean your cat’s eyes step by step.

This article is merely informative, in .com we do not have the faculty to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why does my cat have so many legañas?, we recommend that you enter in our section of Eye Problems.

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