Cat Vision: What Cats See

As you may know, animals don’t see the colors as we see them; some see only black and white, while others cannot spot certain colors or have chromatic aberration. Cat vision is different than our vision and if you have a pet, it is helpful to know how your cat sees things and understand why he can spot objects in the dark.

How Cats See the World

Cats can see a few colors and have a very keen night vision.

Cats can detect motion, which helps them while hunting. Cats are predators, so their vision must be adapted accordingly.

Just like humans, cats have binocular vision, so a cat can see in 3D and he is able to determine the distance where different objects are located. However, the 3D vision in cats is not as well tuned as in human vision.

However, cats are nearsighted, as their vision is more adapted to detect close range objects. A cat can only see as far as a few hundred yards and the rest of the world is seen blurred. However, cats are only interested in what they can see near them. Cats also rely greatly on their superior hearing capacities, which guide them also towards finding a prey. The cat detects the location of the prey using his hearing and then he uses his vision to spot the location of the target.

Cat vision can detect any type of movement, even the slightest, which makes the cat a skilled hunter.

Even if tigers and wild cats should be able to see colors, domestic cats are not able to see most colors. Domestic cats may see only blue and green shades. Some cats will have difficulties in telling the difference between red and green, seeing all red objects as green.

Cat Night Vision

Cats are endowed with elliptical pupils, which allow cats to see better during the night.

People have round pupils; elliptical pupils which can get larger and will open or close much faster than the round shaped pupils. When the pupil is larger, this will allow the cat to have quality night vision.

Domestic cats have slit pupils, which enable cats to see light without chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration or acrhomatism is the incapacity of the eye to focus all colors in the same point and is seen as fringes of color along the delimitation of bright and dark colors.

The developed night vision is also due to the tapetum lucidum, a tissue located in the retina. This tissue can reflect the light and increases the available light for photoreceptors, which is useful in low light conditions.

Cat vision has a few similarities to human vision, but it has also a few differences: it's more developed than human vision in a few respects, as cats have the capacity of seeing during the nighttime; on the other hand, domestic cats don’t distinguish many colors, their vision being restricted to 2 main colors and shades. Cats also have a different type of pupils than humans and additional eye tissues.