How Do Cats See the World?

Do you ever look at a cat and wonder what they see?
You’ve probably heard they have great vision—in some ways, that’s true, while in other ways, it’s not (surprising, right?).
We’ll answer the most common questions on how cats see the world. Get ready to see through a cat’s eyes.

Can Cats See Color?

The cells in your eyes that allow you to see colors are called cones. Humans and cats have three types of cones that can see different combinations of red, blue, and green. Since humans have 10x more cones than cats do, we can see a larger spectrum of colors.

So, yes, cats can see color, but where we see rich and vibrant colors, they see more muted hues and less saturated colors that almost appear pastel. They can see greys, blues, and yellows, but have problems distinguishing greens and reds. This makes them colorblind in the same way some humans are.

Can Cats See in the Dark?

Where the cone cells allow us to see color, rods are cells that allow us to see motion and light. Although cats cannot see in pitch black (but they can use their whiskers to navigate in the dark), they have six to eight times more rods compared to humans, which allows them to see better in dim light, and detect quick motion.

This is why if you move a toy, a cat will become laser-focused on it – they can actually see it better.

Additionally, cats have a mirror layer in the back of their eyes called a tapetum lucidum. Typically, light hits a photoreceptor and then goes to the brain for processing – but sometimes light misses the photoreceptor. The tapetum lucidum bounces the light back, giving it a second chance.

This helps a cat see light and motion better, and explains the reflection you see if you take a picture of them using a flash in low light.

It’s believed the tapetum may also shift the wavelengths a cat sees, meaning they can spot a silhouette against a dark sky more easily.



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