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Cat scan: check your cat’s eyes to avoid problems

Keep checking

up close photo of cat with larger green eyes | Whitworth Animal ClinicIt’s second nature for most cat owners to inspect and scrutinize their pet’s physical condition while grooming or snuggling. It’s always a good idea to do a routine home exam to make sure there’s nothing amiss; follow these tips to make sure your kitty is in tip-top shape.

The eyes can be a window into your pet’s overall health, so check them frequently. Problems with eyes can indicate everything from a virus to a head injury.

The third eyelid: nature’s way of protecting

First-time cat owners may not be aware that felines have a third eyelid which serves as a protection for the eye. The third eyelid is normally hidden in the corner of the eye near the nose. The healthy third eyelid is white to light pink. It is quite sophisticated and even has cartilage and a tear-producing gland. Normally, the third eyelid is not visible. However, if the cat senses danger, it uses a muscle to pull the eyeball back a bit, and the third eyelid slips out to protect the eye. If you would like to know more about the third eyelid, ask Dr. Whitworth to show it to you and explain its functions at your pet’s next check-up.

Visible third eyelid

If the third eyelid is exposed in one of your cat’s eyes, it’s possible there’s an injury. Eye injuries are painful and can lead to infection, so it’s best to visit to Dr. Whitworth at Whitworth Animal Clinic to make sure the problem does not escalate. If your kitty has had dental or ear surgery, one of the third eyelids might become visible if the nerve control center of the third eyelid was disturbed during surgery. Call for a post-surgery check-up if you are concerned.

Both third eyelids visible

There are a variety of reasons both third eyelids could become visible. Schedule an appointment and let the experts at Whitworth Animal get to the root cause of the issue and suggest treatment.

Routine home checkups

Normally, cats’ eyes are clear and shiny. The area around the eyeball should be white and both pupils the same size. The lining of the eyelids should be perfectly pink—not red or white. Take some time each day to do a routine home checkup and observe your kitty. If he rubs his eyes, squints, or otherwise demonstrates discomfort, make an appointment to get professional diagnosis and treatment.

Here is a list of symptoms to look for when examining your cat’s eyes:

  • Discharge
  • Watering/tear-stained fur
  • Red or white eyelid linings/change in eye color
  • Crusty gunk in the corners of the eye
  • Closed eye(s)
  • Cloudiness
  • Visible third eyelid
  • Pupils unequal in size


Be aware that Persians and some other cat breeds are prone to eye discharge. Use a dampened cotton ball to wipe away from the corner of the eye to clean debris and be sure to use a clean cotton ball for each eye. This may need to be done daily to make sure the crust does not harden and block tear ducts. Clip long, stray hairs out of the cat’s eyes to avoid problems. If the discharge looks abnormal, consult Dr. Whitworth.

Cats can be illusive and independent, so cat owners must be vigilant:

  • Conduct home-health examinations on a regular basis to make sure your cat’s eyes are clear and bright.
  • Remember to schedule regular annual physical exams for young felines and bi-annual visits for mature cats at Whitworth Animal Clinic.


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