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Why do cats third eyelids get stuck half accross their eye even when they appear in good health?


  1. When the third eyelids slides out while she is not sleeping, it indicates that your kitty is sick. You should contact your vet about that. Really, dead serious.

  2. This happens to my cats too – its nothing to worry about. The third eye is sometimes used as a protection to that part of the eye, perhaps if they get some grit or a hair stuck in their eyes. Also, as my cats have gotten older it is more noticeable.
    This is why, in days of old, cats were seen as wise because their third eye was thought to see things that we mere humans cannot!
    However, if the third eye is completely covering the eye then go to the vet

  3. I agree with seep, it can be a sign of illness. I would seriously consider taking the cat to a vet or at least making a phone call to see if the cat should be examined.

  4. Your cat might have an eye infection or could have a viral illness. When I first brought my cat home his inner eyelid was not retracting properly because he was recovering from ‘kennel cough’ he caught in the shelter. Best bet is to take him to the vet

  5. Is this a recent change or has the third eyelid always been “up”? The third eyelids appear when the eye to retracts into the socket for any reason. It is not consciously raised or dropped by the cat, it just pops up when the eye is pulled back into the socket and disappears when the eye is in its normal position. So the only really good way to get it to disappear is to figure out why is is showing.
    Pain in the eye, dehydration and Horner’s syndrome (usually occurs in one eye only) are common causes of one or both third eyelids showing. There is a condition in which the third eyelids suddenly “appear” and stay up for four to six weeks and then usually spontaneously “disappear” again. This is commonly called “Haw’s syndrome”. I think that the theory is that this is caused by some sort of irritation of the sympathetic nervous system but I am not sure if this is the most recent explanation. Tetanus can cause third eyelid protrusion but has many other signs associated with it. The conformation of the cat’s head and eyes can sometimes lead to this problem and if the cat’s eyes are truly small in relation to the size of the orbit, this may be a factor.
    If this is Haw’s syndrome it should respond to instillation of topical ophthalmic epinephrine drops (1%) into the eye. Usually the third eyelids will retract after a few minutes and stay down for a while. Putting the drops in frequently is a conceivable treatment but most people chose to ignore this and hope it will go away since it usually does.
    Mike Richards, DVM

  6. I took my cat to the vet regarding a 3rd eye covering about 1/2 her eye. The vet tested for glacouma and injury. Neither were appararent and he gave me antibiotic drops to administer in her eyes. They did nothing. I’m supposed to bring her back for a recheck, although her 3rd eye is getting worse and is now at 85% covered. I’m sick about it and do not want her to lose her eye. If anyone has any advice, please let me know asap.
    Thanks in advance!

  7. recently went to vet for this same thing and she discovered yeast infection in ears and that this can cause paralysis in the face hence the third eye it may get better with the ear being treated but may remain or will take quite some time to heal as this is nerve damage from the yeast infection being bad hope you found help

  8. My out door cat has half of her eyes covered by her third eyelid. She is banged up and was in a fight telling by the wounds. I don’t want her to go blind, she is such a sweet heart help!

    • Most of the time the 3rd eyelid or haw, a nictating membrane, retracts on it’s own. Could be something as simple as dehydration, might be a number of conditions. but the correlation with fight induced injury is not likely as a direct cause. Get her to a vet, have her tested for tapework (bring fresh stool sample)

  9. Overnight my cats third eyelid covered half her eye. She is 11 years old. Just want to know if this is normal for older cats or could it be more serious? I don’t want her to be in pain.


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