Unveiling the Mystery: Do Cats Really Have Eyelashes?

Oh, cats and their captivating features! You ever find yourself gazing into your feline’s eyes, lost in thought, and suddenly you’re asking, “Hey, do my furball friends even have eyelashes?”

Over the years, there’s been a bit of a back-and-forth about this, but the truth is, most kitty types indeed sport eyelashes. Thing is, they’re pretty tiny and blend seamlessly with their fur color, so don’t feel bad if you’ve missed them.

Don’t bother reaching for the mascara, though. Not only would it be a mission trying to apply it (and one that your cat would not appreciate), but it won’t make those cat eyelashes pop like it does for humans. Even though they may be different in appearance, cat eyelashes serve the same purpose as ours do.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty and chat about what exactly cat eyelashes are like and all the cool stuff a pet parent should know about them.

Cats Have Eyelashes

So, Do Cats Have Eyelashes?

Ever been a confused cat parent, typing “Do cats have eyelashes?” into your search bar only to find a jumble of contradictory answers? Some sites swear that cats don’t and have absolutely zero use for eyelashes. Yet, others dive deep into the world of feline eyelashes. Don’t fret; we’ve untangled this hairball of a debate for you. So, do cats have eyelashes? You bet they do, they’re just not quite what you’d envision an eyelash to be.

See, us humans, we have these thick, long, usually darker-than-our-hair lashes that really stand out. Now, glance at different critters out there, like horses or cows – their long, human-like eyelashes are pretty noticeable.

Cats, on the other hand, play a whole different game. Their eyelashes blend in so well with their fur that you might easily assume they don’t have any. While your kitty’s lashes might not be fluttering in the wind like ours, they do hold an important role. So, yes, despite their hide and seek nature, cat eyelashes are very real and quite significant!

Cats Have Eyelashes

What You Need To Know About Cat Eyelashes

So, you’re curious about the nitty-gritty on cat eyelashes, huh? Well, eyelashes, or as they’re also known, cilia, are hairs sprouting from the rim of your upper and lower eyelids. Here’s the catch: there’s no rule in the eyelash definition saying they gotta be long, thick, or black. Any hair growing from that eyelid edge? Yep, it’s an eyelash.

But before we set in stone that every cat has eyelashes, we’ve got to hash out a detail. The eyelash club isn’t exclusive to all cats. It can really depend on the breed.

For instance, Ragdolls and Maine Coons might sport more visible eyelashes, enough for you to notice. However, the Devon Rex and Cornish Rex crew might be missing out on the eyelash party.

And let’s not forget the unique case of the Sphynx cat, also known as the hairless cat. Don’t let the name fool you; these cats aren’t completely bare.

They’ve got a fine layer of peach fuzz covering their bodies. And here’s where it gets interesting: some Sphynx cats might even flaunt eyelashes and whiskers. Every Sphynx cat is a unique masterpiece, after all.

Cats Have Eyelashes

Why Do Cats Have Eyelashes?

Okay, let’s talk about why cats have eyelashes. Many of us humans may think of our eyelashes as beautifiers, right? Add a dash of mascara, perhaps some quality faux lashes, and voila! Our eyes have that extra wow-factor. But did you know that their actual purpose is way more functional than just aesthetics?

Yep, they’re mini bodyguards for your eyes, keeping dirt and debris at bay. Plus, they’re also your blink detectors, signaling when it’s time to blink or shut your peepers.

Same goes for our feline friends. Their lashes are not there just for the cuteness factor. They’re there for protection. And it’s not just the lashes.

Cats have a full-on defense system for their eyes. Their typically short eyelashes are just one part of the team, along with their fur coat, their sensory whiskers, and that super cool third eyelid, all working together to keep those kitty eyes safe and sound.

Cats Have Eyelashes

How a Cat’s Fur Coat Shields Its Eyes

You know, a cat’s eyelashes don’t need to be long to ensure eye safety. Their fur coat takes on the role of a full-on guardian, offering 360-degree protection.

Got debris coming their way? No worries, the fur coat’s got it covered, likely intercepting it before it even gets close to those precious peepers. A cat’s face is draped in this natural armor, ever ready to ward off unwanted intruders like dirt, dust, and other pesky particles.

Cat Whiskers: Frontline Defenders of Feline Eyes

Here’s an interesting fact: a cat’s whiskers are like their personal early warning system. If they’re inching too close to something, those sensitive whiskers signal a ‘heads up,’ preventing any accidental bump-ins.

Did you notice that they even have a set of whiskers stationed above their eyes? These guys are like the advanced scouts of the whisker army, performing a role similar to eyelashes but with a greater reach. So they’re not just adding to their cuteness quotient, they’re literally watching out for their safety.

Cats Have Eyelashes

What Is A Third Eyelid in Cats?

Ever startled your kitty from its snooze and noticed a delicate white veil over its eye before they fully open? Welcome to the world of the cat’s third eyelid, scientifically known as the nictitating membrane. Unlike the conventional top and bottom eyelids that close vertically, this third eyelid cozies up in the eye’s corner, operating horizontally.

This unique eyelid acts as an additional line of defense, catching anything that may have slipped past their fur or whiskers. But what’s super cool is that this eyelid is translucent! So even when it’s closed, your cat can still see through it. Particularly handy when they’re venturing through a bushy or rugged terrain, this third eyelid is like their personal safety goggles for some extra eye protection.

Cats Have Eyelashes

When Eyelashes Turn Troublesome: Cats and Eyelash-related Conditions

Most of the time, cats are perfectly okay with their eyelashes, but occasionally, a medical issue can turn these tiny hairs into a nuisance, causing them to rub uncomfortably against the cat’s eyes. If your feline friend shows signs of any eyelash-related trouble, it’s a good idea to get your vet involved pronto.

As a responsible cat parent, you can spot signs that your kitty may be experiencing discomfort around the eyelash area. Some signals to watch out for include:

  • Pink or reddish eyes
  • Excessive blinking
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Discharge
  • Watery eyes
  • Frequent pawing at the eye area

Several medical conditions could bring on these symptoms, with the vet’s treatment plan depending on the specific issue. Fortunately, these conditions are typically not painful. But if left untreated, they could escalate from mild discomfort to significant pain. So, let’s take a look at the main culprits:

Distichiasis: This condition sees your cat’s eyelashes getting too cozy with its eyes, often due to double rows of lashes, causing discomfort.

Ectopic Cilia: With ectopic cilia, eyelashes grow towards the eye, leading to irritation since they sprout from the inside of the eyelid.

Trichiasis: This one can be quite bothersome for your cat. Trichiasis causes eyelashes to grow willy-nilly, poking out at odd angles and directions. This sporadic growth often leads to discomfort as the lashes end up brushing against the eye.

Cats Have Eyelashes

Why Can’t I Spot My Cat’s Eyelashes?”

If you’ve ever tried to spot your cat’s eyelashes, you might’ve found yourself in a bit of a pickle. Sure, at a casual glance, you may think you see some lashes or even an eyebrow, but those are just the cat’s eye whiskers. Even if your feline friend is relaxed enough to let you get super up close and personal, those elusive eyelashes might still evade you.

Don’t get discouraged, though. Your failure to spot the lashes doesn’t mean they’re not there. There’s a very simple reason why your cat’s eyelashes might be playing hide and seek. Your kitty’s face is covered in fur right up to the very rim of its eyelids. So, unless you’re a cat eyelash guru with tons of background knowledge and experience, telling apart the lashes from the surrounding fur could be a bit of a challenge.

It’s this simple case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ that fuels the debate about cats not having eyelashes. Just because we can’t see them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. So, rest assured, your feline friend is fully equipped with those lashes, even if they’re stealthier than the ninja cats of legend.

Cats Have Eyelashes

 Final Takeaway

To the question, “Do cats have eyelashes?” the answer is a resounding yes! Although they might not resemble the lush lashes you might be picturing, they’re there. Just like in humans, eyelashes in cats serve as a frontline defense against dust and debris and also prompt the eye to close when necessary. But thanks to their furry coats, whiskers, and third eyelids, cats don’t need their eyelashes to be as long or thick as those of other mammals.

So, if you’ve embarked on a mini quest to find your cat’s eyelashes and came up short, don’t worry. Those tiny lashes blend in seamlessly with the cat’s fur, matching in color, thickness, and length. The only thing that sets them apart is the spot they sprout from. However, if you find that your kitty consistently struggles with eye irritations and can’t quite put a finger on the cause, it might be time to consider a potential eyelash-related medical condition.

Last Updated on June 10, 2023 by Amanda Wheatley


  • Dr. Jonathan Roberts

    Dr. Jonathan Roberts is a licensed veterinary surgeon at a small animal hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. He holds a BVSC from the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science and specializes in small animal and behavioral medicine. Jonathan also has two miniature schnauzers!