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Do Cats have Eyelashes? An Interesting Question

Do cats have eyelashes?

Technically, yes, cats have eyelashes. It may look as though cats eyes don’t have eyelashes as cats have more hair generally around the eye area which gives the appearance of thick hair with no lashes.

The lashes are not well defined from the surrounding hair when looking at a cat. It is certainly understandable that you may think your cat has no eyelashes.

We expect that the lashes will look similar to our eyelashes and to those of other mammals. Some mammals, for example camels and horses have very well defined eyelashes. 

Why Are Cat’s Eyelashes Difficult To See?

Cat’s eyelashes do not look exactly like human lashes and that’s where the confusion is. As mentioned cats have thick hair around the eye, humans do not. The eyelashes are mostly not visible or distinguishable from the thick hair in the eye area. This leads many to believe that cats do not have eyelashes.

Anatomy Of A Cat’s Eye Showing Eyelashes

do cats have eyelashes

Cats Can Have Medical Problems Related To Eyelashes

Wag describes the different medical problems that can arise with cats’ eyelashes. 

Distichiasis: occurs when the eyelash grows from the inner rim of the eyelid.
Ectopic cilia: a condition in which the eyelashes grow from inside the eyelid
Trichiasis: occurs when the eyelashes grow in different directions.

All three conditions cause the eyelashes to come into contact with the eye, which can lead to discomfort and pain for the cat.

Reference:  wagwalking.com/cat/condition/eyelash-disorders

Eyelashes help to prevent dirt and other substances from entering the eye which may cause irritation. When we blink our tears lubricate the surface of the eye.

Cats have another form of eye protection that lubricates and protects the surface of the eye. You may have heard about a third eyelid.

Cats Have A Third Eyelid

Does it do the job or part of the job of eyelashes?

The third eyelid extends from the corner of the eye to cover the eye and retracts into the corner of the eye when no longer needed.

Its function is to give added protection to the surface of the eye when needed, such as when moving through scrub or bushes or tall grass and so on. It keeps the eye most  without compromising vision. It sweeps the eye and gets rid of any debris and pollen while redistributing tears over the cornea to keep the surface of the eye moist.

So yes, it does give added protection to the eye of the cat.

Sometimes it is possible to see the third eyelid as the cat is waking up or while the cat is sleepy. It looks filmy and almost translucent.

Other mammals such as dogs, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians also have a third eye

Humans also once had a third eyelid that is now just seen as the whitish pinkish area at the inside corner of our eye.  It  no longer acts as a third eyelid.

Do Cats Have Eyelashes?

So do cats have eyelashes? Yes, even though they may not be obvious to an observer. The ease of seeing the eyelashes will depend on the breed of the cat.

A Breed Of Cat With No Eyelashes At All

Sphynx Cat no eyelashes

Sphynx cats are hairless and they have no eyelashes.

For Fun – Cat With False Eyelash Eyebrows

This is a very short video, only nine seconds.  It will give you a chuckle.

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cats reading the paper in bed
Have you seen my mascara dear? My eyelashes are just not cutting it at the moment!

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