Do Cats See In The Dark: Interesting Facts, Features Of Cat Vision

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Do Cats See In The Dark: Interesting Facts, Features Of Cat Vision

Special properties have long been attributed to the hypnotic gaze of a cat’s eyes. It is believed that these animals can see what is inaccessible to humans, and are able to distinguish objects in pitch darkness. Let’s find out if cats can see in the dark and why their eyes glow.

Features Of Cat Vision

Cats have binocular vision. The pictures that each eye sees are superimposed on one another and create the illusion of volume. Thanks to this, animals accurately distinguish the shape of objects and the distance to them.

The eyes of cats are distinguished by a convex shape. They take up most of the muzzle and are deep-seated. Due to this structure, the movement of the eyeballs is limited and in order to see objects located from the side, cats are forced to turn their necks.

The pupils of animals are distinguished by a special structure and are able to expand in the dark, occupying up to 90% of the iris. In bright light, they taper strongly to prevent possible injury.

The perception of light in cats is due to the presence of photoreceptors. They are located on the retina and are of two types – rods and cones. The former are highly sensitive to light. They are used in low-light conditions and help to navigate well at dusk. The latter are activated in bright light and do not carry much functionality for cats. Therefore, the ratio of rods to cones is 25: 1.

Do Cats See In The Dark: Interesting Facts, Features Of Cat Vision

Behind the retina is a lens – a mineral glass-like formation that accumulates and reflects light rays onto photoreceptors.

How Do Cats See

The main distinguishing features of feline vision are acuity and stereoscopicity. The animals’ eyes look in the same direction. Therefore, their field of view is centered. Thanks to this, cats are able to estimate the speed of movement of objects and the distance to them.

On a note. Oriental, Abyssinian and Siamese cats see panoramic images with a clear central object and blurred periphery.

Day vision

Although the visual acuity of cats is 7 times higher than that of humans, in the daytime they see worse than people. In bright light, the pupils of animals change their shape. When light enters the eye, they are placed not round, but oval or stretched in the form of vertical slits.

On a note. Cats are nearsighted. They poorly see objects at a distance of closer than 23 inches and more than 3 inches.

Night vision

With the onset of dusk, the world around cats turns gray. Due to the structural features of the retina, they see well in low moonlight. But in complete darkness, pets do not distinguish objects and are guided not by sight, but by developed sense organs.

Do Cats See In The Dark: Interesting Facts, Features Of Cat Vision

Interesting! The visual acuity of cats in the dark depends on the color of the iris. Blue-eyed individuals see worse at dusk than their green-eyed counterparts. Therefore, a kitten, whose iris has not yet been filled with pigment, does not have such a sharp twilight vision as an adult anim

Do Cats Distinguish Colors

For a long time, it was believed that cats see the world in black and white. And only in the middle of the 20th century, scientists were able to refute this statement. It is scientifically proven that cats see 6 colors, including:

  • grey;
  • blue;
  • blue;
  • green;
  • white;
  • the black.

Also, cats can distinguish between purple and yellow. True, they see the shades of the latter only on a green background. And purple is often confused with blue.

The most important color for cats is gray, so they can distinguish all its shades. This is due to the fact that this is how rats, mice, and some birds feed on wild felines.

Colors inaccessible to the eye of pets include shades of pink, brown, and red. Also, cats do not perceive variegated combinations.

Why Do Cats Have Glowing Eyes?

The cat’s eyes have a structural feature that is characteristic of all predators that hunt in the dark. They have a back wall of crystals – the tapetum, which reflects light rays onto the photoreceptors.

This phenomenon is called photoluminescence. The wavelength of the reflected light corresponds to the green portion of the spectrum. It is because of this that the eyes of cats in the dark emit a yellow or green glow, which disappears in the absence of a light source.

Do Cats See In The Dark: Interesting Facts, Features Of Cat Vision

How Cat Vision Differs From Human Vision

Cats see the world differently from humans. There are several significant differences between the vision of humans and these animals:

  1. Viewing angle. In cats, exceeds 200 0 . The human viewing angle is only 180 0 . The eyes of cats are bulging and large, so they see an indistinct, but a panoramic picture.
  2. Objects of observation. Cats often do not notice static objects, but they are good at distinguishing dynamic targets. It is easier for a person to examine fixed objects.
  3. The ability to see in the distance. Everything that is located at a distance of more than seven meters seems blurry to cats. A person normally sees distant objects well.
  4. Focusing the gaze. Cats lack the muscles that regulate the shape of the lens. Therefore, they are unable to focus on nearby objects. The human lens has muscles that help it to become flat or convex. Therefore, people are able to instantly change focus from nearby objects to distant ones.
  5. Vision in the dark. Due to the presence of a reflective layer – tapetum and an abundance of rods in the retina, cats see better in the dark than during the day. A person sees worse at dusk than during daylight hours. His rods are located mainly in the lateral parts of the retina. Therefore, in the twilight, a person can view details only with peripheral vision.
  6. Perception of color. Cats are able to distinguish 6 colors and 26 shades. The human eye has 100-150 shades available.

Final Thought

Cats are amazing and mysterious creatures that navigate well in space. And although they cannot see in complete darkness, their keen twilight vision helps them to hunt in the light of the moon.

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About Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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