Different pupil size in a cat’s eyes – time to visit a vet

I had never heard of it until I read the Reddit.com posting by a 15-year-old girl. She was concerned about her six-month-old tabby kitten. The pupil of her right eye is larger than that of her left eye. She was asking users of the Reddit.com website to help and to tell her what to do next. I guess, in truth, she did not need to ask people on social media what to do next because the answer is obvious: see a veterinarian, which is what they basically said. However, because this is a rare condition, I thought I’d do a bit of research on it.

And it does appear to be rare because my excellent book on cat medical issues and self-diagnosis does not list the disease which is called “anisocoria”. The cat concerned is shown below.

Anisocoria in cats
Anisocoria in cats. Photo by Reddit.com user: u/Silverflame202
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Out of curiosity I wondered how the word is pronounced, so I looked it up on the Internet and thanks to Emma I am able to reproduce the pronunciation of the word on this page below:

Anisocoria is a symptom of an underlying health problem. There are many potential causes. Tammy Hunter DVM on the VCA Animal Hospitals website provides a useful list of them. They include glaucoma, a disease or injury to the brain or to the nerves that run to the affected eye, an injury to the cornea, inflammation of the interior of the eye, retinal disease, scar tissue formed between the iris and the lens, atrophy of the iris, a congenital defect of the iris, cancer in the affected eye, spastic pupil syndrome or an infectious disease such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FeLV) or toxoplasmosis.

This condition affects people as well and in people anisocoria can be caused by people being born with naturally different pupil sizes, the use of eyedrops can cause it and certain medicines or chemicals which get into the eye can cause the problem. Traumatic brain injury can also cause anisocoria as can a migraine. I’ve added in the extra possible causes in humans because I think they add to the page. It’s interesting that the VCA Hospitals webpage does not include the causes in humans. I would have thought that they would be valid because the anatomy of cats and humans is very similar.

The basic upshot of my research is that anisocoria is a symptom of a potentially serious health condition. It is not something that can be ignored. And this is an interesting topic in this instance because I want to return to the 15-year-old girl who posted the picture on Reddit.com.

She said that she is concerned about the odd-pupil size in her cat but it appears to me that her parents are not as concerned as she is. And she said that she may have difficulty in convincing her parents to take the family cat to the vet. And this is the problem: the parents have to pay for the veterinary treatment. The child identifies the problem but doesn’t pay for the cure. And when you pay to fix a health problem you resist. There is competition between expenditure and cat welfare.

Which leads me nicely to the next issue. If you have a domestic cat, you simply have to accept the responsibility that goes with the caregiving of your cat which includes burning through some money sometimes in the interests of your cat’s health. The decision to spend money on veterinary care should enter your head before you adopt a cat. It is perhaps the single biggest factor in deciding whether you adopt a domestic cat or not. Therefore, there should be no question about taking your cat to vet when the need arises. I am afraid to say that a lot of cat adoption is a little too casual. The lifetime expenditure is overlooked.

The advice on Reddit.com to this girl was to make a lot of noise and be aggressive towards her parents to force them to take her cat to the vet. I would agree with that.

Postscript: you will find that there is a disparity between the number of veterinary visits from dog owners compared to cat owners. Cats end up being taken to the vet much less than dogs. There would seem to me to be a slight tendency for cat owners to conveniently ignore their cat’s health problems. Conversely, dogs are more in your face and there is, I regret to say, often a stronger connection between dog and human because of the pack animal behaviour of dogs which obliges the owner to respond when a health problem arises.

Below are some more articles on cat eyes.

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