Third eyelids

I have a 10 month old male and a 6 month old female from the same healthy stray that came to our barn. They are both vaccinated. I recently moved them into the same room together. Shortly thereafter, the older ones third eyelids started to show (with no other symptoms). The vet said he had slight fever and must have a mild URI. After an antibiotic shot and oral antibiotics he had a recheck and the fever was gone and eyes better. After two weeks I moved the little one back in with him Wednesday. They played hard all evening. Yesterday I noticed that the third eyelids were slightly showing at times again. I am confused. Is it normal for the third eyelids to take a little time to go back to normal after the fever is gone? Might the fever be back? Should I separate them again if its contagious...they hate it! Could the stress or excitement of the little one returning cause it to show again? I DON"T KNOW!!!! He seems fine except for that I can notice the eyelids occasionally and I hate to run back to the vet again if its not necessary, his recheck was just Monday. Thanks!


If the third eyelid is visible, it may indicate that the cat has an eye injury, is suffering from dehydration, infection or possibly stress. Pain will also cause the third eyelid to pop up. There are a number of eye issues that could be causing your cat to have its third eyelids showing. Some possible reasons are minor and some are serious. You’ve already been to the vet and had an infection taken care of, so you have to consider other causes.

You said that both cats were vaccinated, but are they neutered/spayed? Perhaps that “playing hard” isn’t playing so much as the male trying to breed and the younger female not wanting to. She could be scratching his face/eyes in defense. Although we often look at a 6 month old female as a kitten, I adopted a 6 month old (Coty) some years ago and she was pregnant already. Just a thought to consider!

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the membrane covering the back of the eyelids and surface of the eyeball and it is one of the most common eye problems in cats. Typically it has an underlying infectious cause . FHV-1 conjunctivitis is a common virus in cats, and it can flare up when the animal is under stress. Since topical antibiotic therapy isn’t very successful sometimes topical antiviral medications are also used. If, during a rough play the other cat damaged the membrane, putting phenylephrine drops in the eyes (or topical ophthalmic epinephrine drops) will encourage the third eyelid to return to its normal position.

Also, there are a number of homeopathic herb treatments that can be successful in clearing up the problem of conjunctivitis due to allergies and other possible infections. These herbs can be purchased at your local health or homeopathic store or through numerous online sources. On my Pet Products page (you will see the navigation button near the top of each page on the left hand side)if you scroll down to Only Natural Pet and click on the banner, it will take you to their store. Or, you can click here Pet Alive Eye Heal. This will take you to an herbal item that might work for you. You can also browse other items that might help.

Upper respiratory infections can cause the third eyelids to close and this is usually curable with a regimen of antibiotics. Haw’s Syndrome has the third eyelids showing and supposedly putting phenylephrine drops in the eyes (or topical ophthalmic epinephrine drops) will encourage the third eyelids to return to their normal position. Intestinal irritations such as worms or other gastrointestinal parasites can cause this same eyelid problem so deworming might resolve it. There are numerous other possibilities that might be affecting the nervous system that can also cause this phenomenon.

As you can see, there are so many variables, seeing your veterinarian was wise. Otherwise it’s a guessing game and you don’t want to put your kitty in danger by not getting a diagnosis or put your other cat at risk if it is something contagious.

I realize that having multiple cats can get expensive running to the vet every time one of them has an issue that may or may not be critical. I have 5 cats now and sometimes I try a simple solution for a few days to see if I can resolve the issue (as long as the cat is not in pain) and then if the problem remains…we’re off to the vet. I would try the eye drops for a few days first and if there is no resolution in a short period of time it’s time for the professional once again.

I hope that this info is a help to you and wish you luck in resolving the third eyelid problem.

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