* Originally written by William O’Brien for ProtectaPet
One of the first features you notice on a cat is their dazzling eyes. Not only the gorgeous colours, but the way they use them. When you see your cat trying to hunt something down, whether that be prey or a toy you are playing with, it is clear that a cat has a quality of vision that allows it to be a successfully stealthy animal.
The quality of the eyesight of cats has been widely discussed and over time, thanks to science, we know more and more about if they can distinguish between different colours, how well they can see and the differences between the eyesight of a cat and a human.
Can Cats See Colour?
It used to be widely believed that our feline friends are colour blind, only being able to see the world in black and white. Over the years, this theory has been proven wrong by scientists and we now know much more about what colours cats are able to detect with their striking eyes.
There are two different types of colour receptors (cones and rods) found within the eyes of both cats and humans. The cone receptors are linked to what we can see in the daytime and how we perceive the colours around us. The rod receptors are associated with what we can see in the dark and also our peripheral vision. Cats possess a larger amount of rod receptors and a lower amount of cone receptors whereas humans are the opposite way round. This is why humans can’t see as well in the dark but can recognise and detect colours much better than cats.
The major difference between cats and humans is that we have three cone receptors, whereas cats have two. This is why cats won’t be able to see the world as vivid and clear as we can, however, this doesn’t mean that they are completely colour blind. The main colours that cats see is a range of blues and yellows, as well as some greens (along with white, black and grey).
The colours that cats struggle to register are found within the orange-red spectrum, this was discovered through certain food-reward related tests which opened our eyes to what cats can and can’t see.
What are the advantages of a cat’s vision?
Although we may have one more cone receptor than cats do, they have more rod receptors within their eyes which makes them have excellent night vision. Cats have incredibly intelligent constructed eyes, and they are able to adapt to low light settings in a plethora of different ways.
If you’d like to know more, check out this article about the superior night vision of a cat.
They also have a wider field of view than humans, we have a peripheral vision of 180 degrees whereas cats can see up to a 200 degree view.
This makes them excellent hunters and of course, especially at night time. So although they may not see the vibrant array of colours that our world has to offer, they have plenty of other advantages and features related to their vision that show that they are an incredibly successful species.