Did you know that cats have not one, not two, but three eyelids? The first two eyelids are similar to ours — one on the top and one on the bottom that meet in the middle of the eye when the lids are closed. The third eyelid, also known as the nictitating membrane, is a retractable membrane located in the inner corner of each eye (closest to the nose).

A cat’s third eyelid acts like a windshield wiper against debris, pollens, dust and more. Photography © Bloodsuker | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

First, What Is Your Cat’s Third Eyelid?

“Most mammals, other than most primates, have third eyelids,” explains Nancy Bromberg VMD, MS, Dipl. ACVO, a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist at VCA SouthPaws in Fairfax, Virginia. “When an animal blinks, the third eyelid sweeps across the corneas under the eyelids, acting like a windshield wiper to clear debris, pollens, dust, etc. There is also a lacrimal gland at the base of the third eyelid that produces up to 50 percent of the normal tears.” 

Why Don’t You Usually See a Cat’s Third Eyelid?

Usually, you don’t really see a cat’s third eyelid because it’s hidden from view when retracted inside the corner of the eye. Sometimes, you might be able to see the third eyelid if your cat is very relaxed. For instance, if your cat just woke up from a deep sleep or was sedated for a surgical procedure, you might catch a glimpse of the third eyelids of both eyes.

You don’t usually see your cat’s third eyelid — and if you do, it might indicate an issue. Photography © Creative_Improv | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

When Does Seeing Your Cat’s Third Eyelid Indicate a Problem?

Most often, however, if you can see your cat’s 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 (often, a sick cat). Many cat eye conditions cause the third eyelid to stick out, including conjunctivitis or pink eye

… Continue Reading at: www.catster.com [source]