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Can Cats See Color?

Let's put ourselves in our furry friend's shoes for a change. What do they see? Can cats see color? Do they have night vision? Let's find out.

By Kelsey LangePublished 6 years ago 5 min read

We all know that cats are constantly alert (if they're not sleeping) and go crazy for a laser pointer. But can they see that the laser pointer is red? A question that is often debated, if cats can cats see color or not is mostly derived from pure curiosity of cat owners. Do they know the color of my eyes? Can they tell which color their toys are?

Another question many people ask about their furry felines is if they have night vision. Everyone has caught their cat's eyes with a flashlight before: creepy. Can they see in the dark? How is their depth perception? We've covered it all in this article.

Cats DO see color, just differently than humans.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to get into the science behind if cats see color first. But don't worry, it's not too boring. Both humans and felines have three types of cones. These cones can identify combinations of the colors red, blue, and green.

However, humans have 10 times more cones than cats do. So when it comes to color variations, cats are lacking compared to humans. They don't perceive the full range of colors that humans do, but they still see color. This is much like a human who is colorblind. They don't see completely in black and white. But they have trouble differentiating between shades of color.

How are cat's eyes different?

Now that we know that cats see color, how do their eyes still differ from our own? We all know that cat's eyes appearance looks much different than ours. But does this mean they see differently? Yes. We know that they don't have as many cones in their eyes. But on the other hand, they have more rods than humans do. Rods' job in the eye is to detect light levels and motion.

Cats have incredible night vision.

Due to the increased rods in a cat's eye, they have great night vision. This is because they help cats to detect light easier and adjust to low lighting. This also means that cats have an easy time identifying moving objects. So the combination of the two make cats an incredible predator, waiting to pounce on their pray in the dead of the night.

How do they have such great night vision, you ask? Cats have elliptical pupils, which dilate much larger than humans'. This allows the eye to capture as much light as it can, and will ultimately result in those demon eyes you see on your cat in the dark. Not so scary now, huh?

What types of colors are cats drawn to?

We know that cats see color, but do they have a favorite color? Even humans are drawn to certain colors, which are often seen through social media icons, food packaging, and home decor. But when it comes to a cat, they aren't as picky.

The colors that are best seen by cats are yellow, blue, and red. Knowing this, allowing your cat to enjoy one of the must have cat toys with one of these colors will make a small but good difference. You'll notice them picking those toys over the others, simply because these bright colors draw them in. It's a simple pleasure to give your kitty, really.

Why is it important that cats see color this way?

Now that we know why cats see color the way that they do, let's get into why it is beneficial for them. Cats are simply equipped with the visual accommodations that are best meant for their survival. This goes for seeing well in dim lighting and having impressive motion detection.

These two attributes are best for their hunting and hiding ability. What isn't as necessary for a feline is vivid color. It's that simple. Instead of being able to perceive a range of color, their strength is night vision and motion detection.

Cats can detect light beyond blue.

Something a bit more impressive than the fact that cats see color is that they can detect ultraviolet light. To humans, this light is invisible to us. So really, who's the colorblind one here?

Ultraviolet light is not much different than any other form of light, other than the fact that it allows cats to see more colors. This can range from seeing urine marks to paw prints.

Due to the positioning of the eyes, they have other visual differences from people.

Cats' eyes are set more to the sides of the head than humans' are. This allows their peripheral vision to be broader and overall stronger. However, this does have a bit of a downfall for their depth perception, due to the smaller range of visual acuity.

However, cats are nearsighted.

Another downfall for cat's vision is their nearsightedness. We're sure you have someone in your life who is nearsighted, or maybe you are nearsighted yourself. If you are, you understand that you wouldn't be much of a functional human if you didn't have glasses or contacts to counteract this. Well, cats also have this issue. And they can't wear glasses, though that would be incredibly adorable.

Due to the shape of their eyes, an object that is far away will appear much more blurry than a human with 20/20 vision. This object will not appear sharp until it is relatively close to a cat, at least under 20 feet away. So, if you think your cat is secretly plotting your demise, just stay 20 feet or more away.

How is their visual acuity?

If you stand directly in front of a cat, their visual acuity is great. However, due to their nearsightedness, their poor visual acuity from a distance will prevent them from seeing a bird flying 50 yards away.

Though cats see color, their depth perception is really the biggest difference between their vision and ours.

And finally, what does it look like to look through a cat's eyes?

If a person is both colorblind and nearsighted, this is exactly what it would look like to see through a cat's eyes. Though this is a bit off when it comes to the placement of the actual eyeballs on the face.

Now that we know that cats see color, we can understand our cats that much more. And though their color perception isn't as strong as ours, it's all for good reason. Don't you wish you had night vision as great as your furry friend?


About the Creator

Kelsey Lange

Passionate about writing, animals, makeup, movies, friends, family, learning, exercising, and laughing!

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