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Updated by Lisa G on Dec 10, 2020
Headline for What Colors Can Cats See?
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What Colors Can Cats See?

When you go out on a walk with your cat in a park you see all those colorful flowers, red roses, green trees, blue sky, but can you tell that your cat also perceives the same colors as you do? Have you ever thought about how your feline sees the world? Or are you also in the delusion that cats can only perceive black and white colors?


What colors can a cat see?

Well, according to scientists cats do lack some colorful vision compare to humans but it’s not like they see in black and white only. A lot of research has been done on this topic by Scientists. According to scientists, cats can see almost all the colors, however, they perceive more like a color-blind person. In simple words, cats are color blinded particularly to red and green, other than that domestic cats or felines enjoy almost to the same vision as human beings. so, kittens might prefer yellow and blue rather than red and green.

Although kitties have a vision similar to humans, however, it looks like they do not enjoy the actual “True colors” of the world. It means that cats cannot see the same richness of hues and saturation of the colors as we do.


What is color-blindness?

Color-blindness is the disability to differentiate between particular colors. It is a biological disorder caused by dysfunction in the cells of the retina called cones. The structure of these cells is cone-like. Cones define the ability to distinguish between varieties of colors and also senses the wavelength of light.

As cats and humans have nearly similar visions therefore cats may have the disease of color blindness.

There are three types of color-blindness:
1: Inability to distinguish green from red.
2: Have difficulty to recognize blue from yellow.
3: Allows a person to perceive black and white only.

A number of researches find that cats can have the first type of colorblindness, which is the inability to distinguish green color from red.


Scientific facts about the cat’s vision

The reason why kittens do not enjoy the same richness of colors as humans do is mainly because of the difference of the photoreceptor cells in the retina (a layer of tissue at the rear of the eye). The cells which respond to light are called photoreceptors.

There are two types of photoreceptor cells in the eyes of cats which are also present in the human eye. The photoreceptor cells which are common in both human and cat eyes are rods and cones. Rods and cones are responsible for how we perceive and detect colors.

Rods are responsible for peripheral and low light vision also known as scotopic vision and these cells are sensitive to dim light. Cones are responsible for color vision and are active at higher light levels called photopic vision. Since felines are nocturnal and are most active at night, therefore they do have 6 to 8 times more rods which help them enjoy more light to achieve a better sight in dim light at night. In addition to that, more rod cells provide better motion detection which helps cats in hunting.

The human retina has nearly 10 times more cones than cats’ retina. The cats lack some of the color vision and do not discern the actual vivid colors due to the less number of cones in the feline retina.


Comparison of cats vision with the human vision

It is a fact that cats do not perceive the whole spectrum of colors as compared to humans. But it does not mean that the cats do not observe all the different colors. Cats have some advantages over human vision. For example, cats can see better and clear in the dim light particularly at night.

Humans have the natural ability to perceive a peripheral view of about 180 degrees. Whereas cats have a wider peripheral view of around 200 – 220 degrees. Cats are blessed with rare and bizarre eyes. Felines have vertical pupils that can adjust swiftly and can open and close like the aperture of a camera. But the humans lack this ability because the human pupils are circular shaped.

Pupil shape and size define the amount of light that enters the retina of the eyes. The pupils of the eye expand in the dark to let more light to enhance our vision. But in the case of bright light, the pupils of the eye become smaller as to let the limited amount of light for the proper vision. Cats have thin-slitted pupils which allow more light to enter the eyes and to provide a wider range of muscle movements. The cat's eyes have the same mechanism of vision as humans but with little more finesse.


Range of a cats' vision

The felines are nearsighted. The range of cats' vision is about 20 feet because their eyes are symmetrically enormous. While we humans can see an object from a distance of about 100 feet clearly, the same object may appear blurry to cats. It would also be difficult for the cat’s eyes to perceive properly if the object is at a distance of less than a feet.


Why do cats have shiny eyes

Why do cats have shiny eyes

Ever wondered why your Kitty’s eyes glow up in the night. The secret behind those shiny green eyes is a layer of tissue called the tapetum lucidum.

Tapetum lucidum is found behind the retina which reflects the evident light through the retina, boosting the light attainable to the photoreceptors. This layer of tissue also provides an improved night vision.

Read more about the Cat's Vision