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How Many Eyelids Do Cats Have

Third Eyelid Showing In Cats

Do Cats Have 3 Eyelids?!?

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Cats’ eyes can be truly fascinating for those who take their time to look into them. Not only due to the fabulous combinations of colors, but also due to the unusual behavior of their pupils, which change in size depending on the amount of light in the environment. Their eyes are so well-known for their distinctive appearance, reflection spots on roads are known as cat’s eyes.

A cat’s eye contains an inner membrane known as the third eyelid. This is to differentiate it from the outer eyelids. You may have never seen it, as doing so is a sign of a health problem. As such, if you’ve recently noticed it, you will need to read up on the causes and treatment for a third eyelid showing in cats. Fortunately, AnimalWised provides the information to do so. It is a symptom of a heath problem in your cat and should not be ignored under any circumstances.

  • Treatment for a third eyelid showing in cats
  • Structures That Protect The Eye

    To function properly, eyes must be kept moist. Tears are the source of this needed moisture. Tears are comprised of water, oil, and mucus. Lacrimal glands produce the watery portion of tears. They are located at the top outer edge of each eye. Glands within the third eyelid also contribute to the production of the watery portion of tears. Mucus glands in the conjunctiva produce mucus. Meibomian glands within the eyelids produce the oily portion. The mixture of water, oil, and mucus creates a more protective tear that is slower to evaporate. Nasolacrimal ducts allow tears to drain from each eye into the nose. Each of these ducts has openings at the edge of the upper and lower eyelids near the nose.

    Causes Of Third Eyelid Showing In Cats

    If you see that your cat’s nictitating membrane is visible in one or both eyes, it is usually a symptom of a secondary problem. These are some of the root causes of third eyelid showing in cats:

    The length of time the third eyelid is showing will correlate to the cause. As we said, it may appear for moments after sleeping. However, even once the cat begins treatment, the nictitating membrane may still be visible. This is because the cat’s body is taking time to heal.

    Furthermore, if you see the third eyelid in your cat it is also highly likely that its eyes will start to tear. They will probably try to touch them with their paws owing to the discomfort caused when this membrane is out of place. So if we see our cat scratching at their face or rubbing it too frequently, we should look to see if we can observe the third eyelid showing.

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    Why Do Dogs And Cats Have Inner Eyelids


    The next time Fluffy and Rover are falling asleep, watch their eyes as they close. Just before their eyelids finish closing, you’ll see a pinky-white coloured lid underneath move across the eyes.

    The outer eyelid moves up and down, but this inner one moves across the eyes. It moves from the direction of the tear-duct and towards the ears.

    Dogs and cats aren’t the only creatures with inner eyelids. In fact fish, polar bears, kangaroos, seals, beavers and most birds have them too, according to Bev Carter from the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo.

    This inner eyelid is called a nictitating membrane, and it’s there for a couple of reasons. The main reason is to help keep the eyes moist. The underside of the membrane is slimy. When it slides across the front of the eyeball, it helps keep it damp.

    Most creatures with these inner eyelids can choose when to move them across their eyeball. They can move this membrane across while keeping their main eyelids open.

    In most creatures, these inner eyelids are clear you can see right through them. In fact if you were to stare at a polar bear’s eyes from up close, you would have trouble telling if the inner lid was across the eyes or not.

    For creatures such as birds and fish, the membrane helps protect the eyeball. For birds, it protects their eyes from dust while they are flying. For fish, alligators and beavers, the membrane stops things such as sand from getting onto their eyeball when they are underwater.

    Why Do Animals Sleep

    How many eyelids do cats have?  PoC

    After staying up late and having to wake up early the next morning, you learn pretty quickly how important sleep is for your health and well-being. Sleep, of course, is important for animals, too. Understanding the process of sleep helps to explain dreaming. Sleep is a state of reduced consciousness characterized by reduced sensory and voluntary muscular activity, says Dr. Nelson. Sleep aids growth and the repair of body systems. During sleep, the brain seems to process information learned during the day, as well.

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    Do All Cats Have Second Eyelids

    All cats not only have second eyelids but also a third eyelid called the nictitating membrane. It is whitish-pink in color and located under the other eyelids in the eyes inner corner. Aside from cats, other mammals such as seals, camels, polar bears and aardvarks have this membrane as well as birds, amphibians and reptiles. ;;

    Common Eye Problems In Cats

    Is it an eye infection, or something else? From discharge to pink eye, understanding the signs and symptoms of these common eye problems in cats is key to knowing how to treat the issue.

    Theres nothing quite like the eyes of your cat. Whether your furry friend sports the captivating clear blue of a Siamese, or the brilliant green of a Russian blue, seeing those captivating colors dart along after their preyeven if its just their toy theyre stalking!are mesmerizing. From their vertical pupils to the fascinating third eyelid that slides across like a curtain , and even the magic of cats with two different colored eyes cats eyes are easily one of their most distinctive features.

    That’s why it can be particularly worrisome as a cat owner to see your favorite feline’s eyes change from crystal-clear. Cloudy eyes, or eyes that become watery or show discharge, and even an increase in blinking or squinting can mean your cat could have an eye infectionor something worse.;

    “It’s wise to seek veterinary advice with any new discharge from the eyes, regardless of what it looks like or if the cat is acting painful,” says veterinary ophthalmologist Mark Bobofchak, DVM, DACVO, with Eye Care for Animals. “Cats are very good at hiding discomfort and will often act normally even with serious eye conditions.”

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    Do Cats Have Nightmares

    Have you ever been startled awake from a nightmare that seems just a bit too real? Cats probably have the same experience. Just like us, animals dreams may not always be happy or based on their reality. Nightmares are suspected to be the way that our minds determine the best course of action in case that dream experience occurs during waking hours, says Dr. Nelson. Our cats arent likely to dream of monsters or missing a final exam like we do, but who knows maybe they dream of oversized mice or seeing the bottom of their food bowl!

    Subtle Signs Of Illness

    Nictitating Membrane

    As any cat owner knows, our feline friends are fairly independent creatures. Relatively self-sufficient and only loosely social, cats seek attention from their caretakers on their terms only. And, although some cats are dog-like in their interactions with their human counterparts, the majority are happy in relative solitude seeking companionship only occasionally during the day.

    It is this keeping a low profile or behind the scenes type of behavior that often allows subtle signs of illness to go undetected. With this in mind, it is possible for an illness to be in an advanced state before an owner even recognizes their cat is actually sick. Being watchful for these subtle changes is an important part of ensuring our feline companions stay healthy and live long happy lives.

    What Are the Subtle Signs of Illness in a Cat?

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    What Is An Eyelid And What Is It For

    An eyelid is a thin fold of skin set above and below the eye of humans and dogs alike. There are eyelashes attached to the outer edge, and they can open or close as desired. Their primary functions are to keep the eye moist and to protect it from irritations and potential damage. ;Even though dogs and cats have 3 eyelids, the third eyelid is not the same as outer lids.

    This third eyelid, the nictitating membrane, is located between the lower eyelid and the eye itself. It does not have eyelashes, moves in a horizontal fashion and is mostly transparent.

    Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca: This Is Also Known As Dry Eyes Or Keratitis

    Keratoconjunctivitis Siccaa really intimidating word that simply means dry eyes. It can be a secondary bacterial infection of FVH-1, but can also crop up with Conjunctivitis, allergies, or for genetic reasons.;

    Tears have antibacterial properties in them and protect the eyes by flushing irritants and providing lubrication. Having a dry eye condition is very uncomfortable and can cause severe issues if not treated. Luckily, its relatively easy to provide comfort to your kitty if this is the problem, but dry eyes are usually not curable. You will need to manage the symptoms to keep your feline buddy comfortable.


    • Your cat may be reluctant to open their eyes
    • Inflammation of the eyelids
    • A dull coating or dry look to the cornea or outside of the eye


    • Eye examination to determine if dry eye may be the problem
    • A Schirmer tear testto measure; the percentage of moisture in the eye
    • A fluorescein stain test to check for any ulcers or erosion of the cornea
    • Eye drops may be prescribed to stimulate the production of tears, or antibiotics if an infection is present

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    Diseases And Conditions Of The Eye

    Cats are subject to a number of the same conditions we sometimes have, including cataracts, glaucoma, and conjunctivitis . The latter, if caused by the chlamydia bacteria, can be contagious to humans.

    Since cats’ eyes are so important to their general welfare, it is crucial that you take your cat to a veterinarian at the first sign of trouble. Many conditions can be treated easily if caught in time but can lead to months of veterinary expense and possibly even blindness, if ignored.

    What Should You Do If You See Your Cats Third Eyelid

    Why Do Cats Have A Third Eyelid?

    If you see any part of one or more of your cats third eyelids, you should bring her into the veterinarian for an exam. When one third eyelid is showing and the other is not, that eye might be experiencing an issue. If both third eyelids are showing, and if your cat is acting sick, it could be an indication that your cat is ill with something not necessarily related to the eye.

    Its important not to delay seeking veterinary care because a cat who has a visible third eyelid is likely experiencing pain and/or discomfort. A full ophthalmic examination should be done to check for corneal ulcers, elevated intraocular pressure, uveitis, masses, etc., Dr. Bromberg advises. Once the cause is determined, appropriate treatment is prescribed.

    Top photograph: krblokhin/Thinkstock.

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    How Is Conjunctivitis Diagnosed

    A tentative diagnosis of conjunctivitis is made after your veterinarian rules out conditions such as a foreign body in the eye, a blocked tear duct preventing normal drainage of tears, a corneal ulcer, or other injury to the eye.

    Since secondary bacterial infections cause many of the signs of conjunctivitis, and because there is a need to reduce the immediate pain and inflammation, treatment is usually started based on this tentative diagnosis of infectious conjunctivitis. Most bacterial and viral infections will resolve within five to fourteen days. In cases that are not improving or where are other pets at risk of infection, further testing will be performed to reach a definitive diagnosis.

    “Specific tests will be performed based on the medical history and results of an examination of the eye and surrounding tissues.”

    Specific tests will be performed based on the medical history and results of an examination of the eye and surrounding tissues. Your veterinarian may measure the tear production and intraocular pressure for each eye. The cornea may be stained with fluorescein dye to look for underlying corneal injuries or ulcers, and conjunctival scrapings or biopsies may be obtained and sent to a diagnostic laboratory for specialized testing. The nasolacrimal or tear ducts may be flushed to ensure proper drainage. Blood tests will be performed to determine if the conjunctivitis is related to a systemic condition.

    How Many Eyelids Do Dogs Have

    Here is where dogs and humans differ. Dogs have three eyelids while humans only have two functional eyelids.;

    A dogs third eyelidalso called the nictitating membraneis usually hidden, with only a small portion normally visible. If you look closely into your dogs eyes, you will see a small triangular segment of his third eyelid at the inner corner of his eyes. The third eyelid is typically black, brown, or pink.

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    Are Your Cats Eyes Healthy

    As you can see, there are many reasons a cat can develop an eye infection. Some are not as serious as others, but all can be treated to keep your kitty comfortable. Bacteria, viruses, fungus, and allergies can all threaten your cats amazing vision talents. So if you look at your beloved kitty and notice their eyes are not as clear and beautiful as they usually are, maybe its time to see your vet. With the right treatment and insurance to help cover it, your cat will be back to their old tricks and talents in no time.;

    When Does Seeing Your Cats Third Eyelid Indicate A Problem

    How Cats See The World…

    Most often, however, if you can see your cats third eyelid, it indicates a problem either something is wrong with the eye or third eyelid itself, or possibly another health issue might be at hand . Many cat eye conditions cause the third eyelid to stick out, including conjunctivitis or pink eye , corneal ulcers , glaucoma, uveitis , masses growing on the third eyelid and Horners syndrome .

    The gland of the third eyelid sometimes gets inflamed and swollen and everts the third eyelid, Dr. Bromberg explains. This is commonly known as cherry eye. It interferes with the normal function of the third eyelid and should be surgically repositioned. This condition is most common in the Burmese .

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    When To Contact A Veterinarian

    The nictitating membrane in a cats eye may make an occasional appearance, but under normal circumstances, it should retract almost immediately. If it doesnt and remains visible for a long period of time, there is quite possibly a serious problem.

    If a condition is left untreated, it can lead to serious damage and danger to your cats eyes and overall health so dont hesitate to make your feline friend a priority.

    Why Can I See My Cats Third Eyelid

    You shouldnt see their third eyelid when cats are awake unless they are sick. Although, you may be able to see a tiny bit at the corner of their eye sometimes.

    If you can see their extra eyelid while they are awake it may mean there is an underlying medical issue. Haws Syndrome is one such condition as I will explain below.

    I would advise you take your kitty to the vet and have them check them over just incase there is a medical reason why their eyelid is not fully retracting when they are awake.

    Eye issues are potentially very serious. Its not like a wound or surface injury that will heal completely on its own.

    If something is aggravating their eye its unlikely to clear up on its own, and its certainly not worth risking permanent damage to their vision.

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    What Is Conjunctivitis

    Conjunctivitis means inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane, similar to the lining of the mouth and nose. This membrane, a layer of epithelial cells with mucus-secreting cells, covers the eyeball and lines the eyelids. Cats have a third eyelid, or nictitating membrane, in the inner corner of the eye, which is also covered by conjunctiva. In healthy cats, the conjunctiva of the eyelids is not readily visible and has a pale, pink color. When conjunctivitis occurs, the conjunctival membranes become red and swollen. Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes.

    What Is Haws Syndrome

    The Cat with No Eyelids  Cat Daily News

    Haws Syndrome is probably the most common eye disease in cats. The main symptom is their third eyelids becoming visible, usually from the bottom of their eyes.

    The condition is typically caused because there is another health issue, such as cat flu or parasites infesting the cat.

    Once the underlying issue is resolved Haws Syndrome usually clears up at the same time. Your vet will be able to help your kitty, please take them as soon as you notice their eyelids showing.

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    Why Do Cats Have 2 Eyelids

    Cats actually have three eyelids instead of two the third being called the nictitating membrane or palpebra tertia. This is a tiny triangle of pink tissue also called haw. Each time a cat blinks, her third eyelid sweeps across the corneas under the eyelids like a windshield wiper to clear off pollen, dust and debris.;;

    Aa lacrimal gland at the base of this third eyelid produces up to 50% of normal tears. This eyelid also moistens the eye while maintaining vision and retracts into the inner corner of each eye. Most importantly, it functions as a shield while cats move through tall grass, during catfights and while pursuing a resistant prey.;

    The nictitating membrane is not usually seen as it is hidden from view when it is retracted in the corner of your cats eye. It can be seen when a cat is very relaxed, if she just woke up from a deep slumber or after being sedated due to a surgical procedure. Other animals that also have this third eyelid include birds, camels, reptiles, sharks, llamas and dogs.;

    The third eyelid moves so fast that it is easy to miss. Itt probably developed when cats were kept as human companions in the Middle East where sand is regularly blown by strong winds. The third membrane could be an adaptation to protect a cats eyes while still allowing it to see to a certain degree due to the thin membrane.;;


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