Cherry-eye is a physical condition that is quite common in dogs,
but appears to be unique to Burmese and Burmese cross cats. It
seems to be most common in those cats with short faces and
large, prominent eyes. It is not something that is caused by
disease or injury, but is rather a result of the structure of the face
Cherry-eye results when the tear gland located in the corner of the
eye near the nose prolapses and becomes exposed. While the
appearance of a cherry-eye looks quite serious, when treated with
the following procedure, it can be manually replaced with very little
effort on the part of the owner or stress to the cat. While there are
surgical procedures that can permanently treat the condition, any
surgery entails significant risk to the kitten and significant expense
that is in nearly all situations, unnecessary. While this procedure
is not a cure, and does not prevent recurrence, there is also a risk
of recurrence after the surgical procedures, though the chance of
recurrence is reduced after surgery.
The following photos show the process for manually replacing the
gland. Simply click on each of the following thumbnails to follow
the process from start to end. When you have finished viewing a
photo, click the "Back" arrow on your browser to return to this
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Although these cats were treated with minimal restraint, in some cases, it may be wise to
wrap a towel around the cat to hold their front paws down to prevent interference with the
If it is difficult to get the tip of the swab to the base of the exposed gland, it may be
necessary to use one of the fingers or thumb of the restraining hand (the hand holding the
cat's head in place) to gently pull down on the outside of the lower eyelid near the nose to
permit the tip of the swab to be more easily inserted into the correct position.
In a few cases, when the 3rd eyelid is "wrapped" on the tip of the swab and the swab is
starting to move across the eye, the gland may tend to "stretch" or be displaced in the
direction of the movement of the swab. In such cases, gently use the tip of the index finder
of the "restraining hand" to push the top of the gland down and toward the nose. This will
hold the gland in place while the 3rd eyelid is pulled over the gland.
I have used this procedure 100's of times in the 21 years I have raised Burmese and have
never had even a single cat or kitten suffer any injury to the affected eye, gland or 3rd
eyelid. I have used this procedure on kittens as young as 1 month and cats as old as 12
years. With patience and care, it has always worked. While this procedure is not a
permanent cure, it can be done in a matter of seconds, and costs next to nothing. Most
importantly, it is 100% safe!
My experience is that cherry-eye is more common in kittens and young cats, who often
stop having it occur as they age and the structures of the head and eye mature. While it
may appear to be a major issue, it is no more a reason not to adopt a Burmese into your
home than having to trim their claws, wash their faces or change their litterbox.
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