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Why Are My Cat’s Eyes Rolled Back – Causes & Symptoms

Why Are My Cat’s Eyes Rolled Back – Causes & Symptoms

As a cat owner, it’s not uncommon to encounter situations that perplex you, such as finding your cat’s eyes rolled back. With various potential causes behind this peculiar sight, it’s essential to assess the situation, consider underlying reasons, and take necessary steps to address your feline companion’s well-being.

While some possible causes for a cat’s eyes rolling back may be benign, others could indicate a more serious health concern. Eye rolling can be caused by dehydration, nervous system issues, and medical conditions like Haws Syndrome or Horner’s Syndrome.

Read on to learn more about how you can help your cat deal with these issues if they’re happening and what you can do to help limit their occurrence. Let’s dig in!

Common Causes of Eye Rolling in Cats

Below are a few common causes of eye rolling in cats.

Normal Sleep Behavior

It’s important to know that sometimes, the sight of your cat’s eyes rolling back is just a part of their normal sleep behavior. Like humans, cats can also experience a deep sleep phase known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.

Whenever I cat my cat sleeping (and that’s rare), and he’s in a deep sleep, I often see this. To me, it’s just him dreaming up a wonderful adventure and not something that concerns me.

During REM sleep, cats often have involuntary eye movements, which may appear as if their eyes are rolling back in their heads. This is a natural occurrence and not a cause for concern if your cat is otherwise healthy and showing no signs of discomfort.

Health Issues

Several health-related conditions could cause your cat’s eyes to appear as if rolling back. One such condition is nystagmus, the involuntary and rhythmic oscillation of the eyeballs.

Nystagmus is a sign of a problem in the cat’s nervous system and may occur in both dogs and cats.

Another possible cause of a cat’s eyes rolling back can be due to eye displacement, commonly known as proptosis. In rare cases, this condition may result from an injury to the cat’s head or face or even due to infections and tumors. The force required to cause eye displacement doesn’t necessarily have to be severe.

If you have a super active cat with access to high points in the home or frequently gets into accidents, then eye displacement could be a cause. Especially if your cat has facial injuries. You’ll want to get them to a vet for scans right away.

Lastly, cats might experience rolling back of their eyes due to uveitis, an inflammation of the uvea, the middle part of the eye. Uveitis could lead to feline blindness if left untreated, so it’s essential to consult your veterinarian if you suspect your cat is experiencing this condition.

One thing we do with our cat is get him checked regularly because early detection is crucial when it comes to eye problems. Early detection and intervention can help prevent more serious health issues.

How Cats Display Eye Rolling

As a loving cat owner, it’s important to know how to recognize the signs of eye-rolling in your feline friend.


Spotting a cat’s eyes rolling back can be somewhat unsettling. The eyeball itself may tilt upward or appear partially hidden under the eyelid, exposing the appearance of a white or cloudy surface. In some cases, the pupil and iris might even disappear, leaving only a small portion of them visible.


When a cat’s eyes roll back, it may exhibit certain behaviors. Some cats might become more lethargic, while others can experience discomfort, vocalize more than usual, or even engage in behaviors like pawing at their eyes or face.

You may even find your cat is disoriented and wobbling at times and showing difficulty navigating the room.

A cat displaying an inward rolling of the upper or lower eyelids, known as entropion, can experience painful friction with the surface of the eye, causing them to act differently.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

As a cat owner, it’s natural to worry when our feline friends display unusual behavior, such as their eyes rolling back. In some cases, this can be due to various factors, including dehydration or underlying medical conditions. Knowing when to consult a veterinarian is crucial in maintaining your cat’s health.

Warning Signs

Monitor your cat’s behavior closely and monitor for any changes. Here are some of the warning signs that may indicate the need to consult a veterinarian:

  • Greyish dark gums, which can be a sign of deadly problems
  • Third eyelids that are persistently visible or protruding
  • Signs of pain or discomfort, such as squinting, rubbing the eyes, or excessive tearing
  • Swollen or red eyes, which can indicate inflammation or infection

Preventive Measures

As a responsible cat parent, it’s essential to prevent eye issues that could cause their eyes to roll back. Here are some preventive measures you might consider:

  • Regular check-ups with the veterinarian to monitor your cat’s overall health and detect any possible health issues early
  • Keeping your cat hydrated, as dehydration could lead to eye problems
  • Ensuring your cat’s living environment is clean and free of irritants that could harm their eyes
  • Immediately addressing any eye infections or irritations with the help of your veterinarian

These preventive measures will help keep your cat’s eyes healthy and improve its overall well-being.

Helping Your Cat at Home

Here are some suggestions to consider when caring for your cat at home.

Comforting Techniques

Ensuring your cat feels comfortable and safe is vital, as stress can worsen its condition. Create a cozy environment by providing a soft bed, warm blankets, and a quiet space for your cat to rest. Additionally, it’s important to keep them well-hydrated as dehydration is a common cause of this issue.

Make sure they have access to fresh water at all times, and encourage them to drink if needed.

It’s also crucial to be gentle and attentive when handling your cat during this time. Try gently stroking their head or offering soft words of reassurance. Be patient and give them time to adjust to their situation; getting better may take some time.

Monitoring Progress

Keep a close eye on your cat’s condition and watch for any changes in its eyes, behavior, or overall health. Some symptoms to look for include the following:

  • Eyes remaining rolled back for extended periods
  • Difficulty seeing or navigating
  • Redness, swelling or discharge around the eyes
  • Changes in appetite or thirst
  • Lethargy or weakness

Consistency and patience are key when caring for a cat with rolled-back eyes. By providing a comfortable environment, staying attentive to their needs, and closely monitoring their progress, you can help your cat get back to their normal, healthy state.