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Cat with Nictating Membrane Showing on Left Eye

by Sandra K.
(Yellowknife, N.W.T.)

Felix with Nictating Membrane Showing on Left Eye

Felix with Nictating Membrane Showing on Left Eye

Felix with Nictating Membrane Showing on Left Eye
Close-Up
Old picture shows how damaged the areas around eyes were when adopted
another photo

Felix, a 24-year old, red, neutered male cat has the nictating membrane showing over about l/3 of his left eye. It has been this way 48 hours or more.


As far as we know, Felix spent 22 l/2 years of his life in a small northern community where he was likely fed primarily raw wild meat and fish supplemented by table scraps. During that time he had no vet contact.

The elderly couple gave him to another family for care. They were abusive, neglectful and Felix ended up for 6 months living on the streets of another community where he had no care or resources. He was rescued after six months of starvation and an attack by a bear or wolf.

At the time of his rescue, he was starving, full of worms, ears infected with mites, eyes infected, teeth infected, ears frostbitten, and a wild animal had torn one ear and ripped the fur off his neck and upper back. When he survived his first night, the rescuer had him flown to Yellowknife for vet care.

The vet dealt with the immediate infections, then neutered him. Having survived the neutering, the vet sedated him a second time and cleaned up his teeth. The vet suggested Felix be adopted in Yellowknife so he could remain near a vet.

Felix moved in with us 13 months ago. He settled in with our other 5 rescued cats as though he'd always lived here. He is very friendly, loving, independent, resourceful and loves everybody.

We wonder if his back may have been injured in the past as he wobbles from side to side with his feet turned out when he walks. This gets worse if he has much belly weight. He does not seem to have any discomfort from this and he gets around quite comfortably.

Felix is fed the highest quality canned pet food that we have been able to order. Up until last July we were feeding wet food with gravy in the morning and dry food at night. We stopped feeding dry food 6 months ago so now all food is wet and he receives small amounts of wild meat and fish periodically. He eats well and regularly, drinks milk whenever he can persuade us to give it, and drinks his purified water. We have several big water bowls and a dog fountain which all our cats love.

Felix is active and loves playing hockey with bits of paper or other toys. He is very affectionate, spending lots of time in laps, sleeping in a variety of places, and loves going to bed with us. One odd thing he does is lick and groom us, especially when we are in bed.

This is a semi-arid climate and we are indoors for a least 6 months of the year. The air is very dry and dry eye syndrome is a problem for humans. I have two humidifiers going here all the time. Don't know if the dryness may have contributed to the current problem despite the humidifiers.

Felix is very flexible. He enjoyed traveling over 15,000 km with us in RV from July to Nov. We traveled two weeks to Newfoundland, stayed there for two months, then traveled back. He is happy where ever he is, whatever we're doing. Loves people and new experiences. With sit with anybody.

During the time the nictating membrane has been presenting, Felix has not shown any signs of deterioration. He is eating well, sleeping well, grooming himself, and does not react if I feel around his eye for swelling.

On Saturday I gave him 6 ch Aconite as the only other one I had was 200. He had an excellent reaction to it, however, the membrane remained in place. Probably 12 hours or more later I decided to give him Ledum 30ch as I thought he might have scratched his eye during grooming. I could not see any scratch on his eye and his nails are clipped so it was a guess. Nothing changed.

I have put artificial tears in that eye twice to try to keep it from drying out. The membrane now seems a bit thickened. Above the eye may feel a little larger than the other but I do not know if that is always the case. He does not have any reaction to what is happening with his eye, does not rub it or seem to have any discomfort. He has had clear fluid running out of his eyes periodically ever since we adopted it and that is still the same.

I can take him to our vet today, however, he only knows allopathic vet care. I want to give Felix a chance to be cared for in a way that will be the least intrusive and help maintain his good health.

Can you diagnose what is happening to Felix's eye and recommend treatment?

Thank you, Sandra and Felix

Comments for Cat with Nictating Membrane Showing on Left Eye

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Dec 10, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Cat with Nictating Membrane Showing on Left Eye
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Sandra,
From the photos you sent of Felix, I am suspicious of a condition called Horner's Syndrome. This is caused by a disruption in the sympathetic-parasympathetic nerve chain to the eye.

The symptoms are characterized by raised third eyelid, constricted pupil, and drooping of the eyelids. Your photos are not that clear so I cannot tell if Felix's pupil is constricted on that eye or not.

In many cases, these conditions will spontaneously resolve without any treatment at all. I would suggest you apply some sweet almond oil or olive oil into that eye, to help lubricate the third eyelid. As the nictitans is in a raised state and now exposed to air, it will start to 'dry' out and become inflamed and irritated and thickened.

As this seems to be an acute onset for Felix and he is not appearing to suffer or have any discomfort, I am suspicious it may just spontaneously resolve without any treatment. Plus he seems to have survived quite well for 24 years enduring the most unimaginable hardships, he will probably come through this just fine!

But you could moisturize that eye with the addition of olive oil or sweet almond oil, 2-3 drops into that eye 3 times daily for the 2-3 weeks until things go back to normal.

As you do have some homeopathic remedies, I suggest one dose of Pulsatilla 30c given three times daily for the next 3 days. Pulsatilla is for a gentle personality, craves milk, and wants to be held. It is also indicated for inflammation of the eyelids, drooping/paralysis of the eyelids, and conditions relating to the glands of the eyelids.

IF the 'disruption' in the sympathetic nerve chain is due to something more serious, for example a tumor or abscess, then of course he will NOT get better. In that case you will notice he is having pain, there will be more swelling around that eye, he may stop eating, and he may become much less active.

As you seem to be in an isolated area, I am not sure if there are any holistic veterinarians nearby. Then you should take him to a conventional (allopathic) vet for treatment.

Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Dec 10, 2012
reply to Dr. Tilman regarding Felix
by: Sandra K.

Thank you, Dr. Tilman. I will apply olive oil. I had put artificial tears in his eye for the past two nights to help lubricate.

I understand Pulsitilla as he is red and the P. personality. I have that on hand.

I will try those two suggestions and watch results.

I have a good supply of homeopathics but don't want to use any that might cause harm to dear Felix.

I know of your site because of your helping my cousin's dog, Howie.

Dec 11, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Cat with Nictitating Membrane Showing on Left Eye
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Sandra,
Artificial tear ointment and Olive Oil will both serve the same purpose. So, your plan sounds good. And, Pulsatilla seems more likely to fit the case for Felix and there will not be any 'harmful' side effects.

Please keep us posted over the next 2-3 weeks!

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Dec 11, 2012
reply to Dr. Tillman re Felix
by: Sandra K.

Thank you for your support.

I have given Pulsatilla 30Ch last night and this morning. I am a bit concerned about giving it 3 x per day at his age.

He is still eating well. Have to take up the food before giving his remedy and keep it up for 1/2 hour or he would go straight to it.

I gave the remedy into the mouth directly last night. He did not enjoy it and was very good at spitting them out. Gave them in milk this am but read Pitcairn who says crush & give it by mouth. Will do that next.

Had him sleep with me last night (he loves that) so I could monitor any changes. He is sleeping well but seems a bit more sedate than usual.

Eye had a tiny bit of white viscous matter come out pretty soon after the first remedy was given. I had been checking his eyes before and there was nothing but clear fluid evident. I assume this was the remedy pushing it up or out.

I am concerned that the area above his eyeball seems to be a little more 'swollen' or 'prominent' today. He still does not mind my touching around his eye, and on the swollen area, so I assume that he is not feeling pain from it.

I have put in olive oil as you suggested as it will be easier for his body to assimilate (and easier when he licks himself). He doesn't seem to mind this being put in his eye.

The nictating membrane seems to have settled down a tiny amount since the remedies. It is still thicker than it should be and has not shrunk back at all.

Thank you again.

Dec 12, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Cat with Nictitating Membrane on Left Eye
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Sandra,
Regarding the Pulsatilla 30c, you wrote,
"concerned about giving it 3 x per day at his age."

Since it seemed to be an acute onset, 2-3 times daily would be a reasonable frequency. And even at his age, he seems to have a fairly strong Vital Force!

You wrote,
"He is still eating well. Have to take up the food before giving his remedy and keep it up for 1/2 hour or he would go straight to it."

I rarely wait that long before or after food. 5 minutes is ok.

You wrote,
"I gave the remedy into the mouth directly last night. He did not enjoy it and was very good at spitting them out. Gave them in milk this am but read Pitcairn who says crush & give it by mouth."

The pellets can be VERY hard! It is NOT easy to crush them. I think it is much easier to drop one pellet into 1/2 cup of Spring Water, let it dissolve, stir 10 times and either with an eye dropper, or a tsp, give him a few drops of the liquid directly into his mouth.

You wrote,
"seems a bit more sedate than usual. Eye had a tiny bit of white viscous matter come out pretty soon after the first remedy was given."

The response to the remedy will sometimes make them more tired as their energy goes internally while they are healing. I am a bit concerned that the discharge is thicker now, where it was thin before. And there is more puffiness around the eye. It may be best to only give the remedy ONE time daily for one more day.

Please continue to keep us posted.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Dec 12, 2012
Dr. Tillman re Felix
by: Sandra K.

Thank you so much for getting back so promptly.

There was the slightest amount of white viscous material from the eye right after the 1st remedy. Everything before and since has been just clear tears. I am putting in the olive oil to keep it from drying.

Felix acts as though he does not know anything is wrong. His spirit remains the same. He is at his food regularly, coming to the kitchen looking for milk, and sleeping well. I assume this is a measure of how the remedy is the correct one and supportive for his healing.

Over the years I have done 15 minutes without food and water, before and after the remedy; and if there has been time, 30 minutes before and after. If 5 minutes is enough and food and water does not take away from the remedy, I won't sweat about that so much.

Yes, the pillules were very hard to break up. I have given remedies in water before and find them easiest to give by mouth with syringe. My cats have been quite good in accepting it that way so I'll do that next.

Unfortunately, I'd been waiting to give Felix his last remedy of the night and had just given it for the third time today before coming to the computer. I will take him to bed with me and see if anything changes during the night.

Unless you direct me otherwise, I will give one remedy tomorrow and no more.

The only visible change now is that the swelling over his eye is near double what it was when we started. It is soft and it does not bother him when I touch it.

I had wondered about Silicia before we started treatment but understand that this remedy may be the one that can resolve the swelling.

Nictating membrane is still unchanged.

We are in a very isolated area and my vet is trained in conventional veterinary medicine. We have a good relationship and he knows that I prefer to work holistically where it is possible.

We're heading for the winter solstice and our nights have been down to -36 C and below.

I am very thankful for your sound support to help Felix and us.

Dec 13, 2012
update on Felix
by: Sandra K.

Dec. 13, gave Pulsatilla 30CH once yesterday just after supper. Felix's nictating membrane is quite red now. Had a good response to the remedy. Still eating well but sleeping most of the time. Any drainage from eyes still clear.

Dec 13, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Cat with Nictitating Membrane Showing on Left Eye
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Sandra,
From the two new photos you submitted, it appears that Felix used to have quite a bit of drainage from that left eye.

And, I agree that the third eyelid (nictitating membrane) does seem more inflamed and red since the Pulsatilla. Therefore, I would not repeat any more doses at this time... just wait to see what develops.

At this point, I suggest keeping the eye area, near the inner corner, clean with warm water and cotton or gauze or Kleenex. Use the artificial tears or Olive Oil in the eye 2-3 times daily.

Please continue to keep us posted.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Dec 14, 2012
Dr. Tillman re Felix
by: Sandra K.

Dear Dr. Tillman, Thank you for your help.

Felix had his last remedy over 24 hours ago. The nictating membrane was very red this morning but has quickly reverted to being a pale pink.

No change in size of the membrane showing. Less tearing but they are still clear.

He has been right there to eat his meals today. Although he's been in the kitchen hoping for milk, I have not given it. He has spent the rest of the day in a deep, seemingly comfortable sleep. Last night he woke up while I was reading in bed and decided to play with the end of the pencil I was using to highlight my reading.

His eyelids were damaged by the animal attack that also severely damaged his ear. I noticed last night that he was scratching behind his right ear with his foot. That is the one that has been so damaged that a spot behind it has no hair growing there. We have never had mites. Felix had infected ears when he was rescued but not since.

With the way he waddles and turns off his back feet, I suspect that his spine may have been hurt at some time. He has a saggy belly which becomes more heavy if we give him milk often. We do put a stool by the bed for him to get up and jump down, however, he often slides or jumps down and I fear it could rotate his spine in a way that might not be good for him. Just thoughts as to what might have contributed to this.

He is accepting of my putting olive oil in his eye.

Dec 15, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Cat with Nictitating Membrane Showing on Left Eye
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Sandra,
The extra info you submitted for Felix will be helpful in working up a constitutional remedy for him. At this point, I am more concerned about the acute problem with the raised third eyelid.

You wrote,
"With the way he waddles and turns off his back feet, I suspect that his spine may have been hurt at some time."

Not sure how to interpret this without seeing him.

Since the third eyelid at this time is a pale pink, the discharge is clear and thin, he is eating well and is fairly active (for his age), I would continue to wait and not give any more doses of the Pulsatilla at this time.

Send an update in one week (sooner if he has problems!).

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Dec 22, 2012
update on Felix
by: Sandra K.

Dear Dr. Tillman,

A couple of days after our last e-mails, Felix's nictating membrane started to decrease in size. At the same time, I noticed a tiny, rectangular spot to the left of the bottom of his eye. The area was bare of hair.

I am very familiar with abscesses because we have had many rescued cats over the years. This did not look like an abscess and there was no discharge.

From this time the swelling disappeared and the nictating membrane has now decreased until it is barely visible in the corner of his eye. With the exception of eating and going to the litter box, Felix slept through the first week when the membrane was showing. As it retreated, he is back to his old self and sleeping less.

Thank you so much for this service. It helped me wait for him to heal and not try to choose an 'instant' cure.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and the best the New Year has to offer. Also, to Jeff who has been helpful with posting my pictures.

Dec 24, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Cat with Nictitating Membrane Showing on Left Eye
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Sandra,
Thank you so much for the update on Felix! I am very glad that he is doing better. It can be tough to treat older patients! And very rewarding when they respond to homeopathic remedies.

Please continue to keep us posted.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

Related Pages:
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DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Jul 29, 2013
update
by: Anonymous

Dr.Tillman, I noticed that you asked me to keep you posted about Felix back in Dec. 2012. He has been fine with no health issues since our last contact. So glad for your help so he was healed without being given steroids, etc.

I have just passed your contact on to another person from Yellowknife who is seeking help with his dog.

Many thanks, Sandra and Old Man Felix (now 25)

Jul 30, 2013
My Online Vet Repsonse for: Cat with Nictating Membrane Showing on Left Eye
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

July 30, 2013

Hi Sandra,

Thank you so much for the update. If clients do not send in a report, it is difficult to follow the progress of a case.

I am very glad to hear that Felix is doing so well, and it sounds like he has surpassed his nine lives and is working on 10!! And I appreciate the referral!

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman


P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!


DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.


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