How do cats see?
The eyes of cats are similar to those of people but evolution has made their vision focused on improving the hunting activity of these animals, predators by nature. As good hunters , cats need to understand the movements of things around them in low light and it is not indispensable that they distinguish a wide range of colors to survive, but it is not true that they only see black and white. In reality, they see worse than us when focusing on close-up objects, however, they have a wider field of vision over great distances and are able to see in the dark.
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If you want to know how cats see , keep reading this article from YourCatCareguide in which we’ll show you some important points to take into account when you know how cats see.
Cats have eyes bigger than we
To understand how cats see, we should refer to the specialist in cats and scientist at the University of Bristol, John Bradshaw, who states that the eyes of cats are larger than humans because of their predatory nature .
The fact that the predecessors of the felines (the wild cats I had the need to hunt so that they could feed and prolong this activity for a maximum of hours a day, caused their eyes to transform and increase in size, the humans, in addition to being located in front of the head (binocular vision) to thus encompass a greater field of vision as good predators are.The cats eyes are very large compared to their heads if we compare them with our proportions .
Cats see 8 times better in dim light
Due to the need to prolong the hunting time at night wild cats, the predecessors of domestic cats developed a night vision 6 to 8 times better than humans . They are able to see well even with minimal light and this is due to the fact that they have a greater amount of photoreceptors in the retina.
In addition, cats possess the so-called tapetum lucidum , with complex ocular tissue that reflects light after having absorbed a large amount and before reaching the retina, which causes them to have a sharper view in the darkness and that their eyes shine in the gloom. So when we take a picture of them at night, the cats’ eyes shine. So, the less light there is, the better they see cats compared to humans, but on the other hand, felines see worse under daylight due to tapetum lucidum and photoreceptor cells, which make their vision limited by absorbing lots of light during the day.
Cats see more blurred in daylight
As previously stated, the light receptor cells responsible for the vision of cats are different from ours. Although both felines and humans share the same type of photoreceptors, the cones to distinguish colors with intense light and rods to see in black and white with dim light, these are not distributed in the same proportion: while in our eyes dominate the cones, in the eyes of the cats dominate the rods. And not only that, these rods do not connect directly with the ocular nerve and as a consequence, directly with the brain as it happens in humans, they connect first between them and form small groups of photoreceptor cells. In such a way, the night vision of cats is excellent compared to ours, but by day the opposite happens and it is the cats that have a blurred and less clear vision because their eyes do not send to the brain, through the nerve ocular, detailed information on which cells have to stimulate more.
Cats do not see black and white
In ancient times, it was believed that cats could only see black and white, but this myth has already passed into history, as several studies have shown that cats can distinguish in a limited way some colors and depending on the ambient light.
As already mentioned, the photoreceptor cells responsible for perceiving colors are the cones. Humans have 3 different types of cones that pick up red, see and blue light; on the other hand the cats only have cones that catch the green and blue light. Therefore, they are able to see cool colors and distinguish some warm colors like yellow but do not see the red core that in this case see it as a dark gray. They also are not able to see colors as alive and saturated as humans, but see some colors as dogs .
An element that also influences the sight of cats is light, which means that the less light there is, the less the cats’ eyes can distinguish the colors, so the cats only see black and white in the dark .
Cats have a wider field of vision
According to artist and researcher Nickolay Lamn of the University of Pennsylvania, who conducted a study on feline vision along with the help of various feline ophthalmologists and veterinarians, cats have a greater field of vision than people .
Felines have a field of view of 200 degrees, while humans have a field of view of 180 degrees, and although it seems little, is a significant number when comparing the visual range, as for example in these photographs of Nickolay Lamn where the The upper part shows what a person sees and the bottom is the least that a cat sees.
Cats do not focus closely
Finally, to better understand how cats see, we have to notice the sharpness of what they see. People have a greater visual acuity when focusing closely on objects because our range of peripheral vision on each side is smaller than that of cats (20º compared to their 30º). That’s why we humans can focus sharply to a distance of 30 meters and the cats reach 6 meters away to see the objects well . This is also because they have bigger eyes and have less facial muscles than we do. However, lack of peripheral vision gives them a greater depth of field, something that is very important for a good predator.
In these photographs we show you another comparison of the investigator Nickolay Lamn about how we see closely (photo above) and how the cats see (photo below).
If you are curious about cats, read our article on their memory !