Exotic shorthair is the breed of cats most associated with Keratosis Sequestrum. An exotic shorthair actually looks like a Persian with one big difference, it has short hair. An exotic shorthair has beautiful plush, thick, dense hair that gives that it a teddy bear look. They are bred to have all the features of a Persian but are much easier to groom. The Persian, Himalayan, Burmese and Siamese cat also contracts Keratosis Sequestrum.
The word Keratosis refers to the inflammation of the cornea. The cornea is the surface of the eye. It is a transparent protective covering for the iris, pupil, and outer chambers of the eye. The cornea can be considered the window in which a human or animal sees through. The cornea is a very powerful visual apparatus and is filled with many nerve cells. Thus when the cornea is inflamed, it will be very painful and vision will be impaired. The cornea in a feline is made up of four layers.
Keratosis can occur because of viral infection such as the herpes virus (calicivirus). It also can be caused by a viral infection as found in feline viral rhinotracheitis; a disease of the upper respiratory system. Here the infection is called secondary because it is a symptom of that disease and not Keratosis Sequestrum. Both of these infections are the most common upper respiratory problems in cats. These conditions are thought to be the contributing factors for Keratosis Sequestrum. However the herpes virus is linked to domestic longhaired cats rather than Persians and Himalayans.
Keratosis Sequestrum is an eye problem that is not genetically based. The problem occurs because these cats have a lot of eye surface area. The disease occurs when the tissue of the epithelium which is the inner most layer of the cornea, and the stroma another layer on top of the epithelium dies and becomes infiltrated by dark pigmentation (Sequestra) that is present in tears, this condition manifests as black specs in the eye.
Other factors that might bring on the infection include:
Entropion (rolling of the eyelid), which can cause irritation of the cornea
Unhealed ulcers of the cornea
Trichiasis - ingrown eyelashes
Loose epithelium skin around the dark pigmentation (Sequestra)
Brown discharge (the cornea is expelling the Sequestra)
Involuntary closing of the eyelids
Uncontrolled muscle spasm
The visual appearance of the Sequestra
Surgical removal of the Sequestra
Isolating and identifying the underlying factor for the condition then treating the cause with antibiotics and topical ointments.
Antibiotics such as Terramycin ointment or chloramphenicol eye ointments are used to try to eradicate the bacteria presented in the infection.
Cause of Outbreaks
It is mostly stressful situations in your cat's life that precipitate outbreaks of the viral infection. When your cat is stressed because of moving, fights in a multi cat household, an introduction of a new pet or person to the house the infection may surface. It is also possible that the infection will incubate and reside in your cat for life. Though the infection does clear up, it will periodically flare up.
Your cat may also be sensitive to certain foods, or if you change foods often. It may be sensitive to certain litter box brands. Since this disease is not genetic and subject to environmental conditions, dust or pollen may also cause the infection. Finally exposure to certain cats can cause the disease as well.
When you see the tearing and black pigmentation in the eye of your cat make sure you take it to the veterinarian for treatment. Remember this disease is painful for your cat and you will want to make it as comfortable as possible.