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Do Cats Have Eyelashes? Does It Vary By Breed?

Yes, most cats have eyelashes. They just aren’t readily noticeable. A cat’s eyelashes are the same color and length as their fur, so they blend in. Learn more about cats’ eyelashes, feline eye anatomy, and how to recognize eyelash disorders in cats.

divider-catWhy Do Cats Have Eyelashes?

While you may not be able to see your cat’s eyelashes, they do play an important role. Like human eyelashes, the felines’ eyelashes keep debris and bacteria out of the eyes. But cats don’t need long lashes as most people have. Their facial fur and whiskers also protect foreign objects from entering their eyes.

cat lying on a brown carpet
Image Credit: craigc1264, Unsplash

Do All Cats Have Eyelashes?

One cat breed that doesn’t have eyelashes is the sphynx. It is known for being hairless, but some sphynx have a light layer of fuzz on their bodies.

Do Cats Have a Third Eyelid?

It sounds crazy, but the answer is yes! Cats’ eyes are more complex than you might realize. Not only do most cats have eyelashes, but they also have a third eyelid called a nictitating membrane.

There are some good reasons you’ve probably never noticed your cat’s third eyelid before. First, the nictitating membrane is somewhat hidden. It’s located underneath the top and bottom eyelids, in the inner corner of the eye. Secondly, the eyelid moves diagonally across the eye, too fast for most people to notice.

Cats often look like they’re squinting. If your kitty squints at you, they’re not giving you the evil eye or engaging in a staring contest. Their third eyelid is opening and closing without you realizing it.

Some sources speculate that a cat’s third eyelid is somewhat transparent. The ability to see while this inner eyelid is closed comes in handy out in the wild. Cats can walk through brush or long grass while protecting their eyes.

white cat on gray sand
Image Credit: Piotr Musioł, Unsplash

Eyelash Disorders in Domestic Cats

Any part of your cat’s body can become unhealthy, and its eyelashes are no exception. Three feline eyelash disorders are trichiasis, distichiasis, and ectopic cilia.

Trichiasis is an ingrown eyelash, while distichiasis is an eyelash that grows in an abnormal spot on the cat’s eyelid. Ectopic cilia occur when a cat’s eyelash grows through the inside of the eyelid. These conditions are relatively rare but can be uncomfortable for your cat and require veterinary treatment.

The most obvious sign that your cat’s eyelashes bother them is frequent pawing at the eye area. You might also notice that your kitty has watery eyes, noticeable twitching of the eyelid, and eye color changes.

divider-catFinal Thoughts

You probably can’t see your cat’s eyelashes, but most breeds have them. A cat’s eyelashes are difficult to distinguish from the fur surrounding its eyes. Cats don’t have long eyelashes like we do because they have other physical features that protect their eyes.

Their facial fur and whiskers also prevent debris and foreign objects from entering their eye. Cats can develop rare eyelash disorders. Contact your vet if your cat paws at their eyes or you notice other abnormal eye changes.

Featured Image Credit: Vinicius de Moraes, Unsplash

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