Eyes are the windows to one’s soul, giving onlookers a glimpse of what you’re truly feeling deep inside. Animals are not an exemption, and as a fur parent with feline friends, you probably know that your cat’s eyes are beautiful gems that can reflect their emotions too. Colorfully vibrant and speckled with different hues, a cat’s eyes truly are a wonder to behold, especially since it’s easier to notice the changes with their big, doe-like gaze.
A Cat’s “Third Eyelid”
Cats actually have an inner eyelid called a nictitating membrane, a protective layer of tissue that helps moisten the eyes. You shouldn’t be able to detect it on a healthy cat’s eyes as it’s usually hidden behind the upper eyelid. If a cat has a third eyelid that does not retract, it’s a true medical concern, and you should bring this to your veterinarian’s attention.
An alert cat should look wide-eyed, but when the “third eyelid” is showing, it may indicate some health issues, though there are some cases wherein an overly excited cat may also show this membrane. Nonetheless, it’s better to take your pet to the veterinarian and have their eyes checked.
Understanding Your Cat’s Eyes: What Do They Say About Your Fur Baby’s Health?
While your cat’s eyes seem to change, keep in mind that the pupil should remain relatively the same size. But once it shifts to a different size, then one of the following health issues may be the cause:
- Inflammation of the eye
- Horner’s syndrome
- Central nervous system injury
The following symptoms can further indicate eye issues:
- Sensitivity to light;
- Sudden changes in position;
- A cat pawing or rubbing at their eyes;
So how do you know if your cat is healthy, then? Here’s what you need to know:
A healthy cat’s eyes should be clear and vibrant, with a mirror reflection. The third eyelid should be hidden, and the pupils should be round and about the same size, with ideally no redness or discharge.
Pupils are the Same Size
Cats’ pupils are quite unique compared to humans, as they have horizontal pupils. In a healthy cat, their pupils should be about the same size, and you can notice this clearly if you have a small mirror.
A cat with a larger pupil is likely more sensitive to light, and this is more common in kittens. Whether they’re in slits due to them being in a hunting mode or wide and curious, a healthy cat’s eyes should always be consistent with each other in terms of size and shape.
The Wonders of a Cat’s Night Vision
Cats have a superior ability to see in the dark, and they’re believed to be more sensitive to light than dogs. A cat’s night vision is also believed to be better than that of humans, as they can see clearly even if there’s little-to-no light.
While cats may seem to be nocturnal, they truly have very good vision even in the dark, with their pupils automatically constricting to prevent excess light from interfering with night vision.
Mothers and their young can also see at night due to the tapetum lucidum, which is a layer of tissue in their eyes that reflects light and results in the cat’s eyes shining up in the dark. As a result, a cat’s eyes appear to glow in the dark.
The Bottom Line: What Your Cat’s Eyes Say About Their Health
Cats have an uncanny ability to show and express themselves through their eyes, and the changes in a cat’s eyes can tell a lot about what they’re feeling. While some say it’s impossible to know what a cat is thinking, the eyes show a lot of their feelings, and what they’re feeling is either happiness, sadness, or illness.
By paying closer attention to your cat’s eyes, you can detect eye changes that may hint at various health issues. Once you’ve learned to spot them, it’s a lot easier for you to know your cat even better and be sure that they’re living their best life.
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