Our World from a Cat’s Eye

One popular perception most of us have about cats is that they can only see in black and white. Also, it is said that cats have a uniquely strong vision that enables them to see in the dark comfortably. In truth, cats see more than black and white. Here are a few facts about what exactly a cat can see.

Realities about what cats see

They see colors

The traditional view has been that cats only see black and white. However, their cones enable them to see gray, yellow, black, white and blue colors. Their recognition of color is not as saturated as ours — it’s almost the same color recognition as that of a colorblind person.

A wider field of vision

A cat’s eyes protrude slightly outwards, which grants them have a wider field of vision. While the human eye can see in a 180-degree field, cats have a visual field of 200 degrees.

They see things faster

Cats process visual information quickly. It only takes a fraction of a second for a cat’s eyes to receive light and translate it into an image.

They see blurry images

In the world of cats, small details do not exist. A cat’s vision is less accurate and images appear with less precision. A cat’s vision is between 20/100 and 20/200 in visual acuity. Unless images are very near, the cat will perceive them as blurry. It is for this reason that cats cannot distinguish the reds from the pinks.

They are near-sighted

Whereas humans can see up to 100-200 feet away, cats can only see within a distance of 20 feet. This is primarily because their eyes lack the muscle to change the focus of objects to make them look close. Also, a cat’s eyes are large and their pupils open much wider, which makes them unable to focus on far objects.

Difference between cat and human vision

Humans have a stronger day vision when compared to cats. Humans tend to see better in daylight because their retina consists of more cones. Cats have only about one-tenth of the cones compared to those in the human eye.

At night, however, cats function exceptionally thanks to the large number of rods in their retinas. A cat’s eyes are made of about 6-8 more rods compared to human eyes. Rods are the cells that detect dim light and motion.

Another key difference is that cat eyes appear to glow at night. They contain tapetum, which is a reflective layer found behind the retina. When light hits the retina, the tapetum reflects it off, which gives that glowing appearance.

Bottom line

Cats see our world, but theirs is characterized by different shapes, different depths of color and different motions. Their world is void of the hues and color saturation that we enjoy. Next time you notice your cat watching the TV from a close angle, understand that they are near-sighted.

Because cats can see objects from far away, they are strong at detecting motion. This trait enables them to escape danger before it can get to them.