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Do Cats Have Eyelashes?

Curious about whether or not cats have eyelashes? Learn more about what eyelashes are and the functions they serve.

MJ Shaffer writer with Dog

Last Updated: September 2, 2022 | 1 min read

Close up of a cat looking up and gazing into sky

Do Cats Have Eyelashes?

While their lashes aren’t long, fluttering appendages like people have, cats do indeed have eyelashes. The scientific name for eyelashes is cilia. Most mammals have cilia which serve protective functions in various places in the body like the respiratory tract and the middle ear. One type of cilia in the ear helps with hearing and detecting sound. They capture sound signals and send them to the brain.

What Are Eyelashes?

The scientific way of describing eyelashes is that they are a type of cilia, tiny stiff hairs surrounding most mammals’ eyes. These cilia are highly sensitive to objects and wind. They trigger the blink reflex to protect the eye and keep minor irritants like dust, debris, sand, and dirt out of the eye.

Do I Need To Know About My Cat’s Eyelashes?

As predators, cats rely heavily on their keen sense of sight. They have excellent night vision, too. Their large pupils and corneas, about fifty percent larger than human pupils and corneas, allow more light into their eyes to help them see in low light. Their pupils dilate to full circles when it’s dark to let in the maximum amount of light. Cats are crepuscular because they are active and hunt during the twilight hours.

Because cats rely on their vision to hunt, their eyes must be well protected. The short, stiff cilia around his eyes that we call eyelashes are necessary to protect this vital sense. Never try to trim your cat’s lashes, even if you think one is turning towards his eye. If you try to move anything sharp towards his eye, his reflexes will cause him to jerk and likely get hurt. Consult your veterinarian for the next steps in treatment.

What Are Some Disorders Of The Eyelashes?

Although disorders of the eyelashes are rare in the feline, they may occur and cause your feline companion intense pain. They could have extra lashes or misdirected lashes. These eyelashes can cause pain, watering eyes, blood vessels in the cornea, and slow healing corneal sores and scars. Eyelashes that point back into the eye cause severe pain. Cutting out or freezing the eyelash follicles may be necessary to eliminate pain and potential damage to the cornea.

Final Thoughts

Yes, cats have eyelashes, although they are much shorter than human lashes. These short, stiff hairs, known as cilia, are vital to protect the eye because felines rely heavily on their night vision to hunt. If you notice your pet exhibiting eye pain and his lashes appear to point back towards his eyeball, consult your veterinarian to check him out. Your veterinarian will guide you through available treatment options to mitigate damage from malformed lashes and protect those beautiful eyes.

Domestic Cat's Portrait. Fragment. Whiskers And Nose

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