Have you ever wondered what the world looks like through your cat’s eyes? Research shows that cats do, in fact, see color, but the range of hues they are capable of recognizing is not as expansive as our own. Though your cat can’t appreciate every color that you do, their world is much more than just black and white. Let’s take a look at how feline vision works:
How Cats Distinguish Color
The cones and rods within your cat’s eye structure, also known as photoreceptors, work together to allow them to see the world around them. Cones detect color and help with daytime vision, while rods detect motion and light. These photoreceptors exist in all mammals and are located in the retina, which is the light-sensing lining in the eye. Because cats have fewer cones in their eyes than humans, they do not see the exact range of colors that we do. Their diminished perception of color is similar to colorblindness, as they can see green and blue hues but have difficulty seeing colors like red and purple. Reds typically appear greenish to cats, while purples may appear blue.
Human vision vs feline vision
Humans are trichromats, meaning that our eyes contain three different kinds of cones that enable us to distinguish red, blue, and green along with the wide spectrum of colors they make up. The amount of cones and rods within the eye is key to determining the specifics of sight. When comparing these amounts, human eyes contain a higher number of cone receptors and a lower number of rod receptors than cats. This explains why we can detect colors better than cats but have more difficulty seeing at night. While humans generally have 20/20 vision, cats have a visual acuity of anywhere from 20/100 to 20/200. What these numbers mean is that what a cat sees within 20 feet, humans can see at between 100-200 feet.
The visual field for a human is about 180 degrees, while cats see the world from a slightly wider perspective with a visual field of around 200 degrees. Additionally, cats do not experience the same saturation of hues and richness of colors that we do. Cats perceive their surroundings with a bit more blur and a bit less vibrancy than we do, but that doesn’t affect their ability to enjoy viewing the world around them.
Night Vision in Cats
Although cats don’t have the kind of night vision you may have seen in superhero movies, they do have a superior ability to see in the dark when compared to humans. The rods in a cats eyes are sensitive to dim light, and as a result, your feline friend only needs about one-sixth of the amount of light humans do in order to see what’s around them. Thought to further allow cats to see at night, the cells within the tapetum, which exists behind a cat’s retina, act as a mirror to reflect light passing between the rods and cones in their eyes. This is why your cat’s eyes can appear to glow in the dark.
Concerned About Your Cat’s Vision?
Cats can experience problems with their vision just as humans can. If you notice your cat having difficulty navigating your home, whether they are bumping into furniture or seem unable to find their way to the litter box or food bowl, it’s best to have them seen by a Catonsville, MD veterinarian. At Catonsville Cat Clinic, we are dedicated to improving and maintaining the health and wellness of cats of all shapes and sizes, and can help you address and treat vision problems with your feline friend. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a wellness check-up.