Can Cats See Color? – The Fascinating Way Cats View the World

Many people assume cats are color-blind, but it turns out that’s false.

Scientists have discovered that cats can see color including blues, yellows, greens, and reds. However, those colors are much less vivid than what humans see.

The best approximation of how cats can see comes from photos created by artist Nickolay Lamm in conjunction with three top veterinarians. In this series of photos, Lamm depicted several ways cats’ eyesight differs from humans.

Vision of Colors

Cat’s vision is similar to that of a color-blind human. They can see blues and greens, but have trouble seeing reds and pinks1. Cats distinguish blues and violets much better than other colors at the end of the spectrum.

The color difference is portrayed in this photo by Lamm. The cat’s view of the world is at the bottom.

example of cats seeing color

Clearness of Vision

Humans also have the advantage when it comes to seeing more clearly. You can see the top picture (human’s vision) is much crisper than the cats.

cats clearness of vision

Color Saturation

Also, scientists believe humans have the benefit of seeing more vibrant hues and saturation of colors compared to felines.2

color saturation of cats vision

Nearsightedness

It is thought that cats are nearsighted as depicted below. It’s believed that this helps them stalk and catch prey.3 Objects that are close to them are very clear.

cats are nearsighted

Why Do Humans See So Much Better in the Day?

The reason humans appear to have superior day vision is due to a higher number of cone photoreceptor cells. Photoreceptors are cells in the retina are responsible for converting light into electrical signals, then ultimately into the images we see.

There are two types of photoreceptor cells, cones and rods.

Cone photoreceptor cells are used for photopic vision, or vision under high light conditions like during the day. Rod photoreceptor cells, on the other hand, are used for scotopic vision or low light conditions like night time.

Therefore, due to the higher number of cone photoreceptor cells, it makes sense that humans can see better during the day.

So, do humans have the advantage when it comes to eyesight in general?

Not so fast. While humans have more cone photoreceptor cells, cats actually have more rod photoreceptor cells.

Extra rod cells help benefit cats in many ways when compared to humans as illustrated in the photos below.

Peripheral Vision

Scientists have discovered that cats have a wider field of vision. Cats can see a 200 degree circumference when compared to humans’ vision of 180 degrees.

can cats see color

Sensitive to Dim Light

Humans may be the winners when it comes to seeing during the day, but cats have the advantage at night.

Due to the extra rods, cats can see in much less light than humans. Their eyes are more sensitive to dim light as depicted below.

cat vision in the dark

Tapetum Lucidum Benefits

In addition to more rod cells, scientists have discovered that cats have a tapetum lucidum, a unique structure located behind their retina which assists in night vision.

The tapetum lucidum makes cats’ eyes glow and reflects light back to the photoreceptors it passed through, giving them another chance to pick up on the light.

This advantage makes them dangerous hunters at night.

tapetum benefits in cats

Less Blinking

One other interesting fact about cats’ vision is that they don’t need to blink nearly as often as humans do. Their eyes stay lubricated with tears which is probably another advantage for hunting prey.

There you have it.

It turns out a cat’s vision is much more interesting than you thought and cats can see color. Not only can felines see colors, but they have unique structures that allow them to see even better than humans do during the night.

Photos were taken by Nickolay Lamm who worked with Kerry L. Ketring, DVM, DACVO of All Animal Eye Clinic, Dr. DJ Haeussler of The Animal Eye Institute, and the Ophthalmology group at Penn Vet to create them.

1.
How Cats See The World Compared To Humans [PICTURES]. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.in/How-Cats-See-The-World-Compared-To-Humans-PICTURES/articleshow/24267290.cms. Published August 28, 2018. Accessed August 28, 2018.
2.
Cat Vision and How Cats See. Cat Vision and How Cats See. http://www.kittyshow.com/cat_color_vision.html. Published August 28, 2018. Accessed August 28, 2018.
3.
How Cats See The World Compared To Humans [PICTURES]. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.in/How-Cats-See-The-World-Compared-To-Humans-PICTURES/articleshow/24267290.cms. Published August 28, 2018. Accessed August 28, 2018.
By | 2018-08-29T01:20:39+00:00 August 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Hey, I'm a co-founder of Humane Goods. I help product development, marketing, and am currently in the process of learning more about how to help animals more each day.
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