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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
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Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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The cats third eyelid is covering about half of her eye most

Resolved Question:

The cat's third eyelid is covering about half of her eye most of the time. She is an outdoor
only cat and is less than two years old. Her two kittens are almost a year old and they
sometimes have the same symptoms. All three catch and eat mice and birds. Is there
any relation to the symptom and tape worm?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

Does Bibi only have the 3rd eyelid up in one eye?
Is the pink tissue (conjunctiva) around the eye swollen?
Is she squinting or keeping the eye closed?

Does she (or the kittens) ever have any sneezing, coughing, or discharges from the eyes or nose?

From your history, it sounds like the cats are having these signs intermittently. How often to do your see the eyelids up?
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 5 years ago.

As I am sure you can appreciate, the website appears to have been having some issues over the past day. If you do have an opportunity to let me know the answers to the questions above, it will give me a better idea of your situation.


If all the cats show these signs intermittently or show coughing/sneezing/discharges, then you are problably looking at respiatory disease in these kitties. It is very common in outdoor cats and very common to see it passed from mother to kittens.


But if we consider ocular issues with her at the moment, there are a wide range of possible causes of a raised third eyelid in the cat. Often we se this associated with squinting (called blephrospasm) or swelling of the conjunctiva (the pink tissue around the eye). Together these signs tell us that there has been a “trauma” to the eye. Common traumas that will induce of a raised eyelid in a cat include bacterial, viral, external toxin exposure, and mechanical traumatic agents (foreign material, sand, grass,etc).

Now with the third eyelid comes up to protect the eye from further damage, but it also makes it difficult to appreciate the extent of what might be going on with the eye. As well, if the eye has gotten scratched by foreign material, we do often see the material caught under the third eyelid where it can cause even further damage.

If you are sure there is nothing caught under the third eyelid and there is no sign of corneal ulceration, then you can soothe mild bacterial infections by salt water bathing the eye (with 1tbsp salt to a pint of warm water). This will act as a mild antiseptic and can help settle mild irritation. But if you find that the eye isn’t settling in the next 24-48 hours, then you will need to have your vet evaluate the eye.

As eyes are so delicate, prompt treatment is always important. If you see your vet, they will be able to examine the eye, determine the cause of what we are seeing, and provide antibiotic cover if needed. Often eyes do need this support, since corneal trauma can be quite at risk of secondary infection. The vet will also be able to stain the eye with fluorescein, so that the area of damage can be appreciated. Additionally, they will be able to provide some pain relief for this wee kitty, she sounds like she is coping well but ulcerated eyes can be quite sore and unpleasant for them.

I hope this information is helpful.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
If you have no further questions, I would be grateful if you would press the wee green accept.

Thank you,

Dr. B.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The third eyelid is up in both of Bibi's eyes. The same is true of her kittens when they
are affected. The third eyelid is a bit pink. There is a little bit of discharge from her eyes.
She has a good appetite and doesn't appear to be sick. She occasionaly sneezes but there is no discharge from her nose. In the last 6 to 8 months all three cats have shown
these symptoms no more than two times. When I see this in the cats they also seem
to be bloated which is why I asked about tapeworm.

Thank you for your answer. The website problem kept me from responding earlier.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 5 years ago.
You are welcome.
I think the website was having server trouble (and was locking us all out).
Bloating can be due to a high worm burden, but it doesn't tend to cause signs of ocular disease, and shouldn't be causing the 3rd eyelids to raise.

I am glad to hear that traumatic causes of a raised 3rd eyelid is not something we need to worry with Bibi. Based on your mention of all the cats showing these signs intermittently and sneezing, I would be very suspicious that these kitties are all carrying one of the feline respiratory agents (most likely feline herpes virus or chlamydophilia felis). Both can cause these waxing and waning symptoms.

Now it is worth noting that Chlamydophilia felis is treatable and can be cleared (via a few week course of antibiotics). In the cause of feline herpes virus, it is a life long infection but there are measures to help soothe symptoms in infected cats. The way to know what needs to be done for these wee ones is going to require having your vet test one of the cats (ideally you want to test whoever has has the most recent onset of signs, which sounds like it might be Bibi). Once they can tell you which infectious agent you are seeing, they will be able to advise you how they can best be treated to either clear (if its the C. felis) or weaken (if its herpes) what is causing their signs.

Dr. B.
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