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Why Is My Cat’s Third Eyelid Showing

My Cats 3rd Eyelids Showing

Third eyelid showing in cats – causes, and treatment

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Third Eyelid Showing In Cats Causes And Treatment

Looking At Your Cats Eyes

  • 1Look at your cats cornea. If your cats third eyelid is protruding, you will see it covering at least part of the cornea. Fortunately, third eyelid protrusion will not automatically affect your cats visionas long as the third eyelid covers less than 50% of her cornea, she will still be able to see relatively well.XResearch source
  • If your cat has an eye injury, the third eyelid of the affected eye will cover more of the cornea than the third eyelid of the non-injured eye.
  • 2Locate an oval pink mass on your cats eye. The third eyelid has its own tear gland, which works with the upper and lower eyelids to keep the cornea moist. In a condition called cherry eye, the firm attachment holding the tear gland in place becomes loose, causing the pink-colored gland to protrude from the third eyelid. Cherry eye can occur in one or both eyes.XResearch source
  • If you see a pink mass in the corner of your cats eye, she may have cherry eye.
  • 3Identify redness of the third eyelid. A healthy third eyelid is white or light pink. If it is irritated, it will become red. With cherry eye, the protruded tear gland may look red because of irritation from dust or debris in the air.XResearch source
  • Protrusion of the third eyelid itself may not cause discharge.
  • Subtle Signs Of Illness

    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 The Role Of Your Cats Third Eyelid

    Unlike humans, your cats are often close to the ground. As a result, their eyes are exposed to much more debris and dirt. And chances are they are susceptible to dust. The thin, membranous structure of the third eyelid gives your cats a much higher level of protection.

    Since your cats blink, the third eyelid shoots across the surface of their eye. Thats when it accomplishes its duty as a great physical barrier. The third eyelid helps with cleaning by delicately protecting your cats eyeballs from the sudden attack of any foreign object entering the eyes or from any risk to your cats vision that can be a consequence of a hit or knock as well as wiping away tiny black specks of dust on its way.

    Another role of the third eyelid is to spread lubrication across your cats eyeball by producing a liquid, whose antiseptic properties are able to save them from the harmful effects of any bacteria and microorganism. However, in spite of all these protective uses of this protective position in front, dont wish your cats have the feline nictitating membrane.

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    What Are Some Causes Of Conjunctivitis

    Third Eyelid Showing in Cats

    The most common causes of conjunctivitis can be roughly divided into two categories: infectious diseases and non-infectious conditions including allergies, hereditary conditions, and tumors. Conjunctivitis may also be a secondary symptom of another eye disease.

    Infectious Causes of Conjunctivitis. Infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi are the most common causes of conjunctivitis in cats. In many cases, viruses such as feline viral rhinotracheitis , also known as feline herpesvirus, or feline calicivirus are the initial cause of inflammation. Primary viral infections are often complicated by secondary bacterial infections with a variety of bacteria including Streptococci and Staphylococci. Two other organisms, Chlamydophila felis and Mycoplasma are also capable of initiating primary conjunctivitis.

    Non-infectious Causes of Conjunctivitis. Breeds such as Persians, Himalayans, and other longhaired breeds may be born with a turning in of the eyelids called entropion. Entropion causes corneal irritation when the eyelashes constantly rub against the eyeball. Foreign bodies, such as dust or sand, may become trapped inside the eyelids, or exposure to irritant chemicals may also initiate conjunctivitis that leads to secondary infection. Allergies are believed to be a common cause of conjunctivitis, but the specific allergens can sometimes be difficult to identify or avoid. Conjunctivitis is a also common symptom of eye tumors.

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    What Is The Third Eyelid In A Cat

    Cats and many other mammals have a third eyelid called the nictitating membrane. This membrane is located in the corner of each eye towards the center of the face. The third eyelid is typically retracted and not visible. Certain situations may cause the third eyelid to protrude and partially cover the eyeball.

    Examining And Medicating The Eyes Of Your Cat

    This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

    In the photographs below, unless otherwise noted, the cat is facing with his nose pointing to your left.

    Variations on these instructions exist.

    Some cats will happily sit in your lap or on a table while you medicate their eyes but many require some form of restraint.

    To hold your cat in your lap to place eye medications, drape your left forearm across the cat’s body to keep him/her in your lap. Hold the head with your left hand using your left thumb to pull down the lower eyelid.

    Hold the medication in your right hand, balancing the heel of your right hand on the cat’s head.

    To examine the eyes, the head is cupped between both hands with one thumb on the upper eyelid and the other thumb on the lower eyelid.

    To see the parts of the eye beneath the upper eyelid, pull the upper eyelid up with your thumb which will open the eye widely. The white part of the eye is the sclera. The sclera is normally glistening white and has small, thin red blood vessels on its surface.

    Abnormal findings on the sclera include:

    • large, engorged blood vessels
    • bruises may indicate a local injury or a problem with the clotting system
    • yellow discoloration of the sclera which indicates jaundice.

    Abnormal findings on the conjunctiva include:

    Abnormal findings on the iris include:

    Abnormal findings in the pupil include:

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    How Will I Know If My Cat Is Having Eye Problems

    A healthy cats eyes are clear, bright, the pupils are both the same size, and theres no excessive discharge or puffiness. When you look at your feline friends eyes, there should be no cloudiness and you should not see the third eyelid. If your kittys eyes dont look as healthy as they should, they could be suffering from an eye infection.

    Lets look at some common types of eye infections in cats, and their causes.;

    Are There Any Other Symptoms That Are Abnormal

    Do Cats Have 3 Eyelids?!?

    It is not normal for a healthy cat to have any discharge from the nose, debris in the ears, excessive salivation, bad breath, or unusual odor from other parts of the body.

    Vomiting, particularly vomiting of clear foamy fluid or bile-tinged material, is cause for alarm.

    Gums, skin, or eyes that are pale may indicate anemia, while a yellow tint may indicate jaundice, and a bluish tint may indicate a lack of oxygen. Delaying treatment for these disorders, even by a few hours, can be fatal.

    “If you have any concerns or questions about your cats health, visit or call your veterinarians office.”

    Because signs of illness can be very subtle, if your cat does not seem right to you, err on the side of caution and to make an appointment for a veterinary examination as soon as possible. If you make it a habit to give your cat a general once-over on a regular basis, you will have an idea of what is normal and will be more likely to catch minor problems before they become major health issues. If your cat will not eat for more than 24 hours, or if you notice any breathing problems, straining in the litterbox, or abnormalities in eyes, seek immediate veterinary attention. If you have any concerns or questions about your cats health, visit or call your veterinarians office they are your best and most reliable resource to ensure your pets wellbeing and health.

    Contributors: Tammy Hunter, DVM; Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc, CVH

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    When Should I See A Vet

    If your cats third eyelid in one or both eyes is visible and doesnt retract back to its normal position, your cat needs to be clinically examined by a veterinarian. They may need treatment for the eye or for ill health. There are many causes of visible third eyelids and, left untreated, many of them can have serious consequences.

    How Is A Protruding Third Eyelid Treated

    Since the third eyelid should not be a consistently visible feature of a cats eye, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice it is not retracting as it should. Considering there are so many possible underlying reasons a third eyelid may be protruding, treatment will depend on the cause.;

    Treatment should be primarily focused on treating the condition itself that caused the third eyelid to protrude abnormally. A veterinarian can determine what condition is present and work with you to provide the proper treatment plan.

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    Why Do Cats Have A Third Eyelid

    Why Do Cats Have A Third Eyelid? This membrane is essentially an extra layer of protection for the cornea, and also serves to moisten the eye while maintaining vision. Your cats third eyelid functions as a shield for his cornea while moving through tall grass and during skirmishes with neighborhood felines or resistant prey.

    The third eyelid gives them an extra level of protection: when an animal blinks, not only do the upper and lower eyelids cover the eye, but beneath them, the third eyelid shoots across, providing an extra physical barrier. The third eyelid isnt made of skin, like the upper and lower eyelids. Most owners dont even know that their pets have third eyelids. If you press down gently on your pets upper eyelid, you can deliberately cause the third eyelid to shoot over the surface of the eye, but its tricky enough to do this, and I wouldnt recommend that you try. So what was going on with Wally? Why were her third eyelids protruding half way across her eye? There is an important PS to this story: protruding third eyelids can also develop as a sign of serious underlying illness, and they should never be ignored. Theres a long list of possible causes of protruding third eyelids, and the diagnosis of Haws Syndrome can only be made once these have been ruled out.

    Home Remedies For Cat Eye Infections

    Protruded Nictitating Membrane Cat

    Last but not least, it’s important to totally rule out two home remedies circulating on the internet for cat’s eye infections.

    First, don’t get your “neos” mixed up. Neosporin, a topical skin ointment for humans, does not belong in the eyes of people, cats, or anybody else . You may see Neomycin listed as an ingredient in some antibiotics for cat eye infections. But they’re different products for different thingsjust don’t mix them up!

    Second, apple cider vinegar should not be used to treat your cats eye infections. Not only is it ineffective, its also dangerousand can cause chemical burns to a cat’s cornea as well as cataracts and glaucoma if the vinegar penetrates even deeper into the eye. Vinegar doesn’t belong anywhere near a cat’s eye, or yours for that matter.;

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    How Can I Treat My Cats Eye Infection

    Treatments for eye infections can range from topicalthink drops and ointmentsto oral antibiotics and ocular surgery. If your cat is diagnosed with an eye condition that requires oral medications or topical drops or ointments, the vet will teach you how to administer treatment as safely and as painlessly as possible.

    What Is A Third Eyelid

    The third eyelid is medically referred to as a nictitating membrane. This membrane is essentially an extra layer of protection for the cornea, and also serves to moisten the eye while maintaining vision. The third eyelid is sometimes described as acting much like a windshield wiper blade by removing debris and pollen from the surface and redistributing tears over the cornea. It retracts into the inner corner of each eye .

    Cats and dogs both possess a third eyelid. So do birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and some other mammals. Your cats third eyelid functions as a shield for his cornea while moving through tall grass and during skirmishes with neighborhood felines or resistant prey.

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    Why Dont Humans Have A Third Eyelid

    Believe it or not, scientists think that humans did have a third eyelid, once upon a time. Through the course of evolution, the nictitating membrane was reduced to the tiny pink fold of tissue in the corner of your eye. This probably happened because, unlike cats, humans didnt have to capture prey by biting or stalking through vegetation face-first.

    How To Treat Third Eyelid Protrusion In Cats

    Third eyelid (nictitating membrane)

    This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 78,078 times.

    In addition to the upper and lower eyelids, a cats eyes have third eyelids. Located in the corners of the eyes closest to the nose, third eyelids protect the eyes from potential injury and produce tears to keep the eyes healthy. The third eyelids normally stay hidden; nerves within the eyes control when they come out and retract back. In some circumstances, though, one or both third eyelids remain protruded. If you see protrusion of either of your cats third eyelids, take her to the vet for treatment.XResearch source

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    When Its Time To Call The Vet

    Cat eye infections can cause discharge, irritation, and pain and are caused by a number of factors. If an eye condition persists for longer than a day and isn’t getting better, it’s time to make an appointment with a veterinarian to find out what’s wrong, so you can get it treated right away.

    Ward advises pet owners to be wary of using old eye medications that were previously prescribed to treat a new problem that crops up. “I’ve seen so many cases where the pet owner has leftover eye medication, and when the is squinting and pawing at red eyes, they try it,” Ward says.

    But because eye problems in cats can be caused by so many different issuesfrom allergies to corneal scratchesusing that old medicine without an examination by your vet can cause serious problems and even further damage to your cats eye.;

    What Do You Do When Your Cat’s Third Eyelid Is Showing

    If your cats third eyelid is showing, you should take them to a veterinarian for a check over. Primary eye conditions, particularly trauma, can progress quickly and can cause serious consequences if left untreated. If your cat doesnt have a primary eye condition, they will also need treatment for the condition that is making him feel unwell.

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    How To Diagnose Third Eyelid Protrusion In Cats

    Last Updated: October 8, 2020References

    This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years. This article has been viewed 14,139 times.

    The third eyelid is an inner eyelid located in the inside corner of a cats eyes. In addition to protecting the eyes from injury, it keeps the eyes healthy by increasing tear production and keeping the cornea moist with tear film. Normally, the third eyelid is not visible. However, it can protrude and stay protrudedfor several reasons, including significant weight loss and nerve damage. If your cats third eyelids are abnormally protruding, she will need to go to the vet for further examination.XResearch source

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