We humans also have a nictitating membrane, but it is much less pronounced than in our four-legged companions. The transparent nictitating membrane of cats is a conjunctiva in the corner of the eye on the side of the nose. It protects the cat eye. Contributes to its moisturization. If the nictitating membrane falls forward and pushes into the eye, this impairs the vision of the velvet paw. Read here how to detect a nictitating membrane prolapse in your cat and what you can do about it.
am 04.01.22 11:15 updated
Symptoms: What is a nictitating membrane prolapse in the cat?
In healthy cats the nictitating membrane, also third eyelid hardly visible. It is only visible as small wrinkle at the edge of the eye near the nose recognizable. In case of a nictitating membrane prolapse it becomes visible. Covers parts of the eye of the cat. Therefore also laymen can recognize a prolapse of the nictitating membrane simply.
In sleeping velvet paws the nictitating membrane can often be seen – this is no reason for concern. Sometimes the nictitating membrane is also clearly visible when the cat is tired or dozing. If this is bilateral and the cat shows no symptoms of disease, it is also not an alarm signal. If you are unsure, talk to your veterinarian at the next Control examination on it.
Diagnosis: What is behind a prolapse of the nictitating membrane of the cat?
A prolapse of the nictitating membrane is no illness, but a Symptom. This can be caused by various diseases.
This is why you should always consult a veterinarian if you see the third eyelid pushing into the eye.
If one eye is affected individually, the incident indicates a specific disease of this eye. With a bilateral nictitating membrane prolapse is the general condition of the velvet paw out of balance. This tends to be a sign of a disease affecting the whole body.
Mostly unilateral: Diseases of the eye
Often a Conjunctivitis responsible for the change in the eye. Also small injuries, for example by scuffles with other cats, can be behind the symptom. In rare cases tumors are the cause for a prolapsed nictitating membrane. Other possible causes of a nictitating membrane prolapse are Middle ear infections, affecting the nerves in the area around the eye. It comes to neurological deficits, more precisely: to the Horner syndrome.
The Horner syndrome
A unilateral prolapse of the nictitating membrane in combination with a Sinking of the eyeball and the Drooping of the upper eyelid speaks for the "Horner syndrome. This is a neurological clinical picture, which is due to a Damage to the nerves – for example, due to an inflammation of the ears. Trigger can also be an abscess, a tumor or an injury. However, often no clear cause can be determined. Sometimes it occurs after a few months spontaneous healing. You should discuss with your vet if you should wait or if you should have a closer examination. Because a more precise diagnosis of a Horner's syndrome can be quite expensive. In addition to x-rays, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the skull and neck, as well as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examinations, may be used for this purpose. On the basis of the general condition of the cat the veterinary surgeon can estimate best, what makes sense of it.
General diseases& Haw syndrome
If there is a bilateral prolapse of the nictitating membrane without further symptoms, experts speak of "Haw-Syndrome. The cause is often gastrointestinal problems, for example, by parasites. If the whole eyeball of the velvet paw seems to be sunken, the prolapse of the nictitating membrane can be a consequence of strong emaciation, muscle atrophy or water deficiency. Also cat cold can lead to a prolapse of the nictitating membrane.
Feline dysautonomia is a rare feline disease that affects the nervous system concerns. If this disease is present, the cat often makes a generally sick and weak impression. Besides the typical nictitating membrane prolapse include a bad general condition, dry eyes, Digestive problems as well as dilated pupils to the symptoms. Feline dysautonomia, also known as "Key-Gaskell syndrome", causes death in two thirds of all cats.
In addition to organic causes, psychological problems can be the cause of a cat's nictitating membrane prolapse. It is an expression that the cat is stressed and does not feel well. Reason for this can be move be, bullying by other cats or Changes in everyday routine. Of course, in this case, a combination of factors is also possible: for example, the stressed cat eats less and loses weight because it is uncomfortable.
Therapy of the nictitating membrane prolapse
The therapy of the change at the eye depends on the respective cause. If a bacterial infection is behind it, the vet can prescribe antibiotics. If the eye is inflamed, the veterinarian will prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops if necessary. It is important to administer them regularly as instructed, so that the cat quickly becomes symptom-free. If there is a parasite infestation, the cat should be given a deworming agent.
Basically, the therapy depends on the underlying disease. Once this is defeated, the nictitating membrane will also retract.
Prophylaxis: Preventing a cat nictitating membrane prolapse
Since the causes of a nictitating membrane prolapse are manifold, you can only prevent it to a limited extent. To avoid conjunctivitis. Regular fecal samples. If necessary, a worming treatment can protect against haw syndrome. Regular fecal testing and worming, if needed, can protect against haw syndrome. To put it simply: If you make sure that your furry nose physically well and it spared unnecessary stress, is on the best way. Because this is how you prevent possible diseases that can lead to cat nictitating disease.