Did you know that cats have a 3rd eyelid called a haw. So what is a haw you ask? It is a thin, third eyelid present in many animals, not just cats – crocodiles, sea lions, rabbits, birds and other animals have them too.
The haw moves across the eye horizontally, reaching from the inner corner to the outside of the eye and back. When the haw is not in use it can slide right to the edges so it is barely visible. These eyelids are useful to animals for many reasons:
- Protection from dust and insects for land dwelling creatures
- Shield from injury in fights
- Diving or underwater animals can use them a bit like goggles
- The polar bears haw is specialised to prevent UV rays a bit like sunglasses
How To Treat Haw Syndrome in Cats
Haw syndrome is common in cats under the age of two and can be defined as the protrusion of the Haw. The cause of this syndrome is unknown, though its often associated with gastrointestinal illnesses (The thought being that this illness affects the nervous system to the cats eye). Thankfully this is only a temporary condition in cats, and should resolve itself in a few weeks. Make sure you do take your cat to the vet though! Should you be really worried about your cats eyesight you can ask your vet to prescribe Pilocarpine to help reduce the protrusion. Here are some helpful instructions on how to apply Pilocarpine eyedrops to your cat… Make sure you read them all beforehand so that you can apply the treatment quickly without the cat jumping away – or stressing him out.
- Wash your hands well before you use the drops to make sure you do not introduce anything bad into the eyedrops.
- Remove the outer cap without spilling or touching the open end of the bottle.
- Holding your cat gently but firmly, tilt his head back a little and pull the lower lid of his eye out to form a pocket.
- Hold the bottle/unit upside down near to your cats eye. Make sure that the bottle does not touch the eye as it will hurt and injure the cat.
- Apply enough pressure to release one drop into your cats eye.
- Repeat the process in the cats other eye if both Haws have been affected by Haw Syndrome.
- Replace the cap (or throw away the single-dose unit).
Make sure you follow any specific instruction given to you by your veterinarian and go back to the vet if symptoms persist after a few weeks, or if your cat becomes distressed. Hopefully this was helpful for you and your cat! Main image via Feedio, eye diagram via Paws Online.