The cat's third eyelid

Third eyelid in cat

Knowing the physiognomy of the cat is one more way to learn more about it and, also, to love it even more if possible. In this special we are going to focus on his eyes, specifically on the third eyelid.

As it is not visible, it is almost unknown, but thanks to this 'fabric' it can keep its eyeballs in perfect health, and You will only see it in case there is a foreign body that is bothering you, or if you feel pain.

What is the third eyelid?

Cat with third eyelid

The third eyelid or nictitating membrane is a characteristic of many animals, including felines and of course cats. It is a membrane, like a very thin 'cloth', of connective tissue in the shape of a T.

In addition to protecting the eyes, They have a gland that produces 30% of tears and several lymphatic follicles that spread antiseptic substances through the cornea to fight bacteria. It is, as we see, an excellent way to always have healthy and bright eyes.

Do I have to worry if it can be seen with the naked eye?

The truth is that it does, especially when seen in both eyes. If you see it only in one, it most likely has a foreign body; On the other hand, if both are visible, then it may be a sign that the cat is not feeling well. In fact, only sick or injured cats will have their third eyelid exposed.

What can cause it to become visible?

Cat eyes

It is not very frequent that the owner of the animal takes it to the vet, but the truth is that it is the most recommended. The third eyelid does not have to be visibleAnd if it is, it is because there is something wrong with our friend, and it may be 'simple' conjunctivitis.

Indeed, not only foreign bodies or wounds can cause it to be seen, but also such common conditions as conjunctivitis. I still remember as if it were yesterday the day they gave me one of my cats, Keisha. It was a beautiful puppy barely two months old, but his eyes were full of gore… Just like his brother.

Albino cat

But on top of that, his eyes were not wide open. Could not. I took her to the vet and he confirmed the diagnosis. Treatment? Of indefinite duration. I was putting eye drops at least two months. Even today, after 5 years, from time to time he has an eye problem.

I tell you this because it is important that little details are given importance, especially when living with a cat. These animals will not complain until pain or discomfort prevents them from leading a normal life, and sometimes it is too late. So that, It is convenient to spend a little time each day to observe our friend in order to identify any problems in time.

Other problems derived from having the third eyelid visible

Cat with third eyelid symptoms

Although cats will not let us know that there is something that bothers them until they can no longer, it is true that when they are not completely well their behavior and therefore your routine will undergo some changes.

In the present case, we are likely to realize that tearing, el cat has a watery eye,  you try to touch your eyes with your paws frequently, or even that you spend more time in your bed, not wanting to want to do anything.


Black cat with healthy eyes

It will depend on the cause. In many cases it will be enough to add a few drops of the eye drops, but in severe cases in which the third eyelid protrudes preventing normal seeing, the adenopexy, which is a surgical intervention in which the tear gland of the third eyelid is repositioned. This operation does not carry risks, so much so that the cat will be able to return home in a couple of days.

Once there, we will have to take him to a Quiet room where I can rest. If your furry is a bit unruly, he may want to play as soon as he arrives, but it is preferable that you let a few days pass before returning to the routine. We cannot forget that, although simple, adenopexy is an operation and after going through one it is convenient to be calm.

Sleeping cat

If you see that it is 'mission impossible', spray the room with essential orange oil and / or put on relaxing classical music (or chill-out). You will see how little by little it calms down. To help him get to that state, I encourage you to sit in an armchair with him, close your eyes, and keep your mind almost blank - just occupy it with your furry friend. Pet him, pamper him. Enjoy their company and their purr. So, little by little, you will both feel much better.

Thus, the third eyelid is a membrane that is very important for the health of the eyes, so if it stands out, it is convenient to take our furry dog ​​to the veterinary clinic to be able to contemplate that look that we like so much 🙂.

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  1.   Nelson apaza said

    One consultation, it is almost a week that my kitten has a constant membrane almost to the center of her eye, whether it is day or night, what could I do to make it return to normal? What medicines or diets should you follow?
    Thank you.

  2.   Antonella Pozo Romero said

    One question my kitten gets that third eyelid as you say, how could it be so that it is not like this, almost half of her eye is when I left it, it was not like that, I left for a week and left it with my brother and it's very bad with me kitten, what does my cat have, can it be an (aggression) that could have been my brother and this (traumatized)? ¿? ¿? ¿

  3.   Monica sanchez said

    When a cat shows the third eyelid, it should be taken to the vet. She will probably give her antibiotics or eye drops to get her back in place.
    If you have more questions, we'll be here 🙂.

  4.   Diana Mora said

    Hello, please if you can help me, I picked up 4 kittens, and one, a dog hit him on his face and the eyelid no longer closes, I took him to the vet and they applied an anti-inflammatory, but he remained the same, his eye looks bright and it does not look bad, but it does not close the eyelid,
    Thank you

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi, Diana.
      Out of curiosity, have you dewormed it (both externally and internally)? Sometimes parasites can be the cause of the third eyelid showing.
      A greeting.

  5.   Angela Maria said

    Hello. My kitten is 3 months old and has very swollen upper eyelid and 3rd eyelid, no pus or anything, but her eye is half open His mother, a Siamese cat, also had the same problem at the same age and was prescribed an antibacterial called gentavec or gentamicide. What can you have

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Angela.
      It may be a genetic problem, but with the antibacterial you will recover soon. Sure 🙂.
      A greeting.

  6.   Gloria Jaramillo said

    Good afternoon, I am Gloria and I would like to know something, my kitten from one moment to the next, her eye was bleeding, I bathed her and I noticed that she has a cloth as if her eye had burst, what to do
    Thank you.

  7.   Gloria Jaramillo said

    Good afternoon, I would like to know something, my cat was bleeding x one eye and I cleaned it and I noticed that it has a loose cloth as if it had burst its eye, what do I do? Thank you

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello, Gloria.
      You should take her to the vet as soon as possible. It may be a simple bump, but it could also be a sign of peritonitis.
      Much encouragement.

  8.   Marcela González said

    It is possible that the cause of the appearance of the third eyelid at times has something to do with a small tumor ????

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Marcela.
      It could be, but that can only be confirmed by a vet.
      A greeting.

      1.    Mery said

        Hello Monica, my kitten appeared yesterday out of nowhere with a very visible third eyelid, he is in good spirits and eats, plays and sleeps normally. I'm going to take him to the vet, but do you think it's something urgent or can I wait 4 days for example? (I want to take him to the veteran cat specialist who will only be able to see him on Tuesday, today is Friday). Thanks for your help! Can I put something I bought at the pharmacy? The eye drops that they mention is the common one that is used in the human eye for contact lenses, for example? Thank you!

        1.    Monica sanchez said

          Hi Mery.
          If he is in good spirits and leads a normal life, I don't think it is serious.
          You can clean the eye with a clean gauze moistened in water and chamomile (infusion).
          Greetings 🙂.

  9.   lily said

    Hello, my kitten a week ago I noticed her strange eyes and took her immediately to her vet and diagnosed her with a respiratory condition, she gave her antibiotics and corticosteroids, and she has been taking the medications for a week, she feels better but my concern is that she You notice your third eyelid …… how long does it take for your eyes to return to normal ???

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Lily.
      It depends on each cat. Sometimes it may be a few days, and other times it may take longer.
      Cheer, sure to get better soon.

  10.   Mariana nieto said

    Good afternoon, I am very worried because yesterday I noticed that the third eyelid of my kitten has a brown outline. I immediately took him to the vet, he couldn't really tell me what he had, but he applied a few drops with neomycin and dexamethasone and I don't see any improvement; the only strange thing I notice about him is that he's purring more. Help me xfa, what could my cat have?

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Mariana.
      Medicines sometimes take a while to work. If you don't see improvement today, take it back to see if it has something else.
      Greetings, and cheer up!

  11.   Tatiana said

    Hello, my cat is 2 years old and a little more than being with me, she has lost a bit this last month but has eaten normally; This last week I have noticed that she leaves her third eyelid in the middle of her eye, but she only does it when she is comfortable to sleep, sometimes in the afternoons and always at night, she also has gas but was purged for last year's night Should I be worried? I have not taken her to the vet because my father, who has worked in a place that sells veterinary drugs but is not a veterinarian, said it was a simple plague or a kind of distemper, recommended that I purge her, have her well fed and give her antibiotics and vitamins. He says it's unnecessary to take her to the vet but I'm not really sure, I'm scared because I love her and I don't want anything bad to happen to her 🙁

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Tatiana.
      Whenever we suspect that the cat is not feeling well, it must be taken to the vet. Otherwise, your condition could worsen. I don't think it's serious, but I recommend that you take her to see a specialist.
      Greetings and much encouragement.

  12.   Canine said

    My Cat has been treated with non-steroidal antbacterial eye drops for 2 days for conjunctivitis. Today the third eyelid began to be very swollen. The process is normal? Because it seems to get worse. How long will it take to see an improvement?
    Every 4 hours we clean his eyes with chamomile tea.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Tusk.
      It could be normal, yes, but if you do not notice improvement today or tomorrow, I recommend you take her back to the vet, to see if she has anything else that may have escaped her.
      A greeting.

  13.   mollynicotine said

    Hello, my kitten has been seeing the third eyelid for more than a week, in both eyes, we were applying 2 drops in both eyes per day, and even so it does not go down, yesterday I took her to the veterinary clinic they told me that the problem is not in her eyes but in another part of her body, she is 2 years old, she eats well, plays and all that is normal, the vet told me that he was going to investigate what could be the cause, they applied a vaccine and today I have to take him again to see what the cause would be, Thanks for the information !!

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello mollynicotine.
      There are many causes that cause the third eyelid of the cat to be visible: from internal parasites to neurological damage (unlikely, due to age).
      Hopefully the vet finds the cause and your kitten can regain the health of her eyes.
      A greeting.

  14.   Liliana said

    Hello, I have a cat that had an eye injury a long time ago, do not take her to the vet, I only gave her terramisin an eye cream and she healed but now her third eyelid is very visible and her five-month-old pups are also Once IN when is conjunctivitis contagious in felines?

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Liliana.
      Yes, conjunctivitis is very contagious, both between cats and between cats and humans (or vice versa).
      I would recommend taking the cat to the vet, in case it turns out to be something serious. Although, in principle, if you lead a normal life, it may be simply parasites or an excess of cholesterol.
      A greeting.

  15.   Josephine said

    My cat has seen the third eyelid in both eyes for two weeks; I have taken him to two vets and one of them, in addition to trying a corticosteroid, prescribed ophthalmic drops; the other only prescribed deworming and appointment in a few days. It gives me great anguish to see him like this What do you suggest to me?

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Joselina.
      I am not a veterinarian, but I do recommend that you put the drops in her eyes and the antiparasitics. The former will heal the eyes, but dewormers will eliminate parasites that may be causing the third eyelid to be visible, and not where it should be.
      A greeting.

  16.   montde estivill said

    Hello, good afternoon, look for a day that I have a kitten that will have a month I rescued him from the street and he is very thin, we took him to go away, because I did not see him well because he said he had a fever. But it seemed that it went well but I saw a movement of his head it happened to him and he ate very little today and I bought him a can from the vet and he has eaten two tablespoons of coffee from said lsta is for sick kittens and I have given him augmentine. That the vet prescribed me but now I have seen his eyes with the cloth half an eye and he is very down if I caress him he purrs I do not worry about the black bantante poop and when he drinks it is difficult for him to swallow I do not know

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Montse.
      In order for him to defecate well, I would recommend giving him wet feed from brands such as Applaws, Almo Nature, Yarrah or similar, as they are high in meat and do not usually contain cereals, which can cause allergies in cats since they cannot digest them well.
      Regarding your health, it is normal for you to feel down. But just in case I would recommend taking him to a second vet to see if he has a parasitic or viral disease.
      Much encouragement.

  17.   Ana Maria said

    Hello. That membrane appeared to my cat and the vetes don't find anything. But it appeared a few weeks before my mother passed away after that the membranes did not go away anymore. Could it be x missing your presence? Thanks

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Ana Maria.
      I'm sorry for the loss of your mother 🙁
      If they don't find anything, it could be because of that. There are still things that are not fully understood, but yes. Emotional pain can also turn into physical pain, or in this case, the third eyelid becoming visible. I am not a veterinarian, but I am convinced that it is.
      A greeting.

  18.   Tania said

    Hello, I have my cat and she has this on the 3rd eyelid and besides, she also has sneezing, diarrhea, tears, I took him to the vet and it seems that he doesn't know anything. Desperate eatpy, I inject him twice.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Tania.
      You probably have a viral illness, such as a cold.
      It is important to protect her from the cold by keeping her indoors and making sure she can wrap herself well, either under the blankets or near the heater.
      For diarrhea, you can give him some boiled rice with chicken broth.
      Cheer up.

  19.   Leslie Villarroel said

    Hello, good night, yesterday I adopted a beautiful British breed kitten but she also has this membrane in a single eye that worries me and I have come here, I have read all the comments and I think I should take her to the vet, I have another 2-year-old cat but I It worries much more that they do not get along, the one I adopted yesterday is very fearful and she passes it under the corral she does not want my other cat to approach her I do not know what to do with her little eye as the behavior of the two of them ... Can anybody help me?

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Leslie.
      The vet will be able to help you with the issue of the eye. But to help your two cats get along, you can do the following:
      -Have the kitten in a room, with her bed, food, water and litter box. Put a blanket or towel over the bed. Put a towel or blanket on your cat's bed as well.
      -During the next 3 days, exchange blankets or towels. In this way they will recognize the smell of the other and accept it.
      -From the 4th day, and since your kitten is fearful, put her in the carrier and take her to a room where the cat is. If there are no growls and you are trying to smell the cat, open the door for them to get acquainted. If not, keep her in the carrier for a minute and take her back to the room where she keeps her things. Please try again the next day.
      -A week, I recommend that the two of you are already loose in the house. At first you will see them snort, or even 'kick' each other, but this is normal and should not concern you. Just in case their hair stands on end and they growl, it will be time to act and separate them for a few minutes.

      A greeting.

  20.   Richard said

    Hello, good night, I would like to know the opinion of other people, I am very distressed with my kitten, she is a Siamese, about 3 to 4 years old, she got sick with pneumonia and almost died I was very dehydrated and she is very skinny, thank God, a veterinarian helped me very much. They have injected antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, the thing is that first his right eye was dilated like a mydriasis and well he has been on medication today and uff in these 4 days he has improved before he had no mood at all or he ate nothing at all now he eats very much A little but he eats water I have not seen him drink but fluids run through his vein (he has a via with a helmet) and it turns out that this morning I saw that his left eye (the healthy one) revealed the third eyelid 🙁 right now He has a badly dilated eye and the other with the third paraped if he is responding to the medicine because that came out: '(It hurts me to see that more things come out, by the way he ate a meal of tuna that was stewed and he told me that among all the vegetables In the stew there were onion and paprika, is that why? I don't know what else to think about. I would like your opinion or suggestions very much. Thanks, greetings from Venezuela.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Richard.
      There are several foods that are toxic to cats, and two of them are precisely onion and paprika 🙁.
      My advice is that you take her back to the vet, and give her a medicine so that her body can eliminate them well. This way your third eyelid will return to its place.
      Cheer up.

  21.   Katalina said

    Hello, good afternoon, my cat has been more than two weeks old, the parapy is visible, the doctor tested him for leukemia and feline triple viral, but thank God it was not that, I want to know what happened to some of the kittens who were like this If the problem was resolved or what happened, thank you.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Katalina.
      Your cat may just have a cold, or it may have caught a little cold. If the vet says he has no serious illness, he will likely recover soon.
      A greeting.

  22.   Ale said

    Hello, my cat has about a week with the visible membrane, it worries me because it almost reaches the middle of the eye ... they told me that maybe it was because of something that he ate badly but what I want to know if they were removed or what I do, they reset Sidol something like that because he also had a fever but I don't know what to do ..

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Ale.
      It could be that he has had an accident or that he has a cold.
      Following veterinary treatment should improve, but if you see that it worsens, take it back to be examined again.
      A greeting.

  23.   Alejandra said

    My kitten has almost half of his eyes something white but he can see, I would like them to say that it is I ask them, please, my cat I love him very much and I am afraid that he will die

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Alejandra.
      You must take him to the vet. He will know how to tell you what he has and how to cure it.
      Cheer up.

  24.   Adriana said

    I noticed the third eyelid on my kitten 15 days ago, the next day we noticed the third eyelid in both eyes we took her to the vet, the strange thing is that she does not notice anything red around her and she does not tear, she is playful as always and he has not touched his eyes at all, my vet prescribed drops for a week and the week has passed and he is still the same, however, he has not presented mood swings and his deworming is every 6 months. I do not know what to do.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Adriana.
      Sometimes it takes a little longer to recover.
      However, if you are not convinced by the vet's opinion, I recommend asking for a second opinion.
      Much encouragement.

      1.    Adriana said

        Thank you, I don't know what could have been but after two weeks the eyelid returned to normal, the strange thing is that my other kitten started with the same thing but it took less time to heal, my question is if there is any environmental factor that causes this, my cats usually go out to the patio (lattice of course) and since it had rained I don't know if that has something to do with it.

        1.    Monica sanchez said

          Hello Adriana.
          Yes, if you have any type of allergy to something in the environment, the third eyelid could be visible. But it is usually more due to illness, let's say, physical.
          A greeting.

  25.   Daisy said

    Hello, I have a kitten of approximately 8 months and 3 days ago I noticed that the third eyelid was visible, the first day you could hardly see it and it was in only one eye, the second day I noticed that it was more noticeable and now The third day he has enlarged and is almost halfway there and you can already see it in his two little eyes, he is not tearing or irritated, he has not lost his appetite or mood, he does not scratch or try to touch himself. I have noticed that when it is active the third eyelid decreases but when they just wake up it is very advanced

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Deisy.
      I recommend taking him to the vet for an examination. I'm not a veterinarian and I can't tell you what she has.
      A greeting.

  26.   Camil Leonor said

    Hello, I have a kitten that is sick with her eyes, a white cloth began to appear in both eyes, I am very worried I began to put eye drops but I do not know if it is good for the cat

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Camil.
      It is not good to self-medicate a cat, as human medications are often toxic to felines.
      It is better that you take her to the vet, and that he tell you what medicine you can give her.
      Hope it gets better soon 🙂.
      A greeting.

  27.   Viridiana said

    Hello, my mother has a cat that I rescued from the street for almost two years, the cat comes and goes every day and my mother feeds it but I think it was bitten on its front leg by a dog because it is a big wound that we try to heal with touches of violet and it is almost completely healthy but as soon as it is almost healthy the third eyelid came out, it is difficult to grasp it to be able to take it to the vet but the truth is that it has eaten little, what can I do?

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Viridiana.
      You can try to clean it with a clean gauze moistened in chamomile infusion, but ideally it would be seen by a veterinarian.
      To make him eat more, you can give him wet cat food (cans), or soak the food with homemade chicken broth (boneless).
      A greeting.

  28.   Janet said

    Hello, my 2-year-old kitten crying her eyes and she has them small and you can see the third eyelid I took him to the vet and they checked him and apparently they did not see anything strange but they prescribed a few drops of eye drops may be another cause that is the third eyelid visible? That the problem is not ocular, thank you?

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Janet.
      I'm sorry but I don't know how to tell you. I am not a veterinarian.
      With the eye drops it should improve within a few days.
      A greeting.

  29.   Renato said

    Hello Monica, good (as).
    One day, I saw my cat sleeping with his eye a little open, it being completely white, I opened it a little to see what it was and it was completely covered by a white cloth, reading I came to your blog and I understood this.
    The thing is that when you sleep it covers you completely, and when you are awake it is exclusively in the corners where this membrane remains.
    And, I think he stuck it to the other cat, since before the arrival of the "infected" it had nothing strange.
    That is to say, the "infected" cat was taken from the street.
    Is the situation normal? It should be treated?
    Waiting for your answer, that you are well.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Renato.
      If he had nothing before, yes, it would be best if he took a look at the vet. You may have caught a "harmless" virus that needs to be treated.
      A greeting.

  30.   Aida said

    Hello good, I have a question about my cat. I recently adopted a cat of about 2 months and a half, 3 who was on the street. For a week and a half we took him to the vet because we found him strange, the cat was standing still, not wanting to do anything. He diagnosed us with a fever. I possibly a respiratory problem. He gave them two injectables and gave us some pills. We also noticed that he had the third visible eyelid and he told us that it was because he was sick. After 1 week and a half with treatment the kitten does not have a fever but most of the time, it still does not want to do anything and with the third eyelid visible. His basic functions are carried out normally but his meow I notice that he is as aphonic. Thank you, have a good day.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Aida.
      Have you given him an antiparasitic for internal parasites? If it came from the street, it almost certainly has And if so, the fact that he hasn't fully recovered is probably because of it.
      However, this could only be confirmed by a vet.
      Greetings and encouragement.

  31.   dapalu said

    Notice that my kitten has a third eyelid on both sides, I checked her to rule out injuries and indeed she does not have any
    But 2 days ago a new puppy came to my family and my kitten did not like the idea, does it have something to do with her mood?

    The weekend I will take her to the vet to rule out anything, but can it be possible for the new puppy?
    Thank you!

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Dapalu.
      It could be, but it would be very strange.
      Normally, when the third eyelid becomes visible it is because the animal is sick or with low defenses.
      I don't know, let's hope it's nothing.
      Cheer up.

  32.   Jaz said

    Hi! Googling about my cat's behavior I came across this note. In it, whenever she is relaxed and about to sleep, the 3rd eyelid can be seen in both eyes. Since she was little, she has been seen in that situation (she is 3 and a half years old and healthy), so I don't think that something bad always has to be happening to her for her to be seen, but just don't let your guard down if you see that their cats have it all day or they behave strangely.

  33.   yamila said

    Hello, I have a cat that passed the third eyelid to both eyes and then I grab her baby .. it may be hereditary, sorry for the misspelling

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Yamila.
      It could be that the mother was ill and the baby's health was not very good either.
      In any case, I recommend you take them to the vet to solve the problem.
      A greeting.

  34.   Florence said

    Hello, how are you? Yesterday my cat woke up with wild eyes. At times he can keep them normal ... but sometimes they go anywhere. What could be has me worried.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Florence.
      I'm sorry, I don't know how to tell you. I am not a veterinarian and I do not want to tell you something that is not later.
      It is better that you consult a professional.
      A greeting.

  35.   Yandel Carpio said

    Hello, my cat suffered a serious blow to her ear and I believe that because of that her third eyelid was activated, she can heal without lack of treatment due to this pandemic, we cannot take her please and thank you very much for your attention

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Yandel.

      We are very sorry for what happened to your cat, but we are not veterinarians.
      I recommend you contact one, by phone, to recommend a treatment.

      Greetings and encouragement.