Wondering How Well Your Cat Can Actually See In The Dark Here’s The Answer
It seems like cats are always raising the bar with how much they are capable of. Exhibiting some really zany, slightly questionable, behavior? Check! Actually knowing their name and choosing to ignore you? Of course, wouldn’t put it past them. Answering when spoken to? Yup, they do that, too. But how about night vision? Can our favorite feline friends see well once the lights go off? We connected to two vet experts to learn more about how well cats can get around in the dark.
Cats Are Red/green Colour Blind
Human eyes have three types of colour receptors called cones, which allow us to see the whole rainbow of colours. Cats have fewer cones, and only have two types, which means that the colours red and green appear to them as shades of grey. They are much better at seeing blue and yellow shades, but rely more on brightness than colour when viewing the world.
Trading Light For Color
All the rods in the feline retina make it sensitive to light, but this means there’s less room for cones. Cones are the eye’s color receptors. While some scientists believe cats, like humans, have three types of cones, their peak color sensitivity is different from ours. Human color peaks in red, green, and blue. Cats see a less saturated world, mostly in shades of blue-violet, greenish-yellow, and gray. It’s also blurry in the distance , like what a near-sighted person might see. While cats and dogs can detect motion better than you can at night, humans are 10 to 12 times better at tracking motion in bright light. Having a tapetum lucidum helps cats and dogs see at night, but in the daytime it actually reduces visual acuity, overwhelming the retina with light.
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How Cats See In The Dark
When you really think about it, vision is such an interesting, mysterious thing. For example, the mantis shrimp has more color receptors than humans , which allows them to see a rainbow of colors that we cant even begin to imagine. Eagles can see four to five times further than humans . And, as were discovering here, while humans are prone to stumbling in the dark, cats have a much easier time navigating darkness than we do.
But why, exactly, is that? Why are cats so much better at seeing in the dark than we humans are?
There are a number of reasons why cats have better night vision than people, and most of them have to do with the structure of their eyes. Here are some of the reasons researchers think cats can see better in the dark.
Cats Are Notorious Night Owls So We’ve Long Thought That They Have Excellent Night Vision But Is This Actually True Find Out Everything You Need To Know About Your Cat’s Night Vision With Our Guide
Cats seem to do all of their best hunting at night. Many cat owners are familiar with being woken up with little gifts such as a mouse or possibly even a sock or the hyperactive run around the house many cats have in the middle of the night.
These night-time antics pose the question: can cats see in the dark? Many people believe that felines are nocturnal and so can see in the dark perfectly, but it may surprise you to learn that cats are actually crepuscular. This means that generally theyre more active around dawn and dusk.
So, if theyre not actually nocturnal, how good is cats night vision really? Keep reading to discover the secrets behind your four-legged friends intelligent eyes.
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How Cats See In Dim Light
A cat’s eye is built to collect light. The rounded shape of the cornea helps capture and focus light, eye placement on the face allows for a 200° field of view, and cats don’t have to blink to lubricate their eyes. However, the two factors giving Fluffy the advantage at night are the tapetum lucidum and the composition of light receptors on the retina.
Retinal receptors come in two flavors: rods and cones. Rods respond to changes in light levels , while cones react to color. About 80 percent of the light receptor cells on a human retina are rods. In contrast, around 96 percent of the light receptors in a cat’s eyes are rods. Rods refresh more quickly than cones, too, giving a cat faster vision.
The tapetum lucidum is a reflective layer positioned behind the retina of cats, dogs, and most other mammals. Light passing through the retina bounces off the tapetum back toward the receptors, commonly giving animal eyes a green or gold reflection in bright light, compared to the red-eye effect in humans.
Siamese and some other blue-eyed cats have a tapetum lucidum, but its cells are abnormal. The eyes of these cats shine red and may reflect more weakly than do eyes with normal tapeta. Thus, Siamese cats might not see in the dark as well as other cats.
How Cats See The World
Now you know the secrets behind cats night vision, you may be curious about how your feline friend actually sees the world. Luckily, in 2013 artist Nickolay Lamm published a series of images to demonstrate the differences between human and cat vision.
Interestingly, the images show us that while cats can see a lot more in their peripheral vision, they seem to have limited colour vision and see mostly in shades of blue and green, but red and pink appears to get confused. Additionally, colours are much less saturated and appear less rich than the way humans see the world.
So now you know the answer to whether cats can see in the dark! While a cats night vision isnt as superpowered as most expect, their eyes are still incredibly intelligent and are part of the reason why theyre such successful hunters.
If youd like to find out more about cat behaviour, take a look at our content hub. Packed full of useful information, handy guides and interesting facts you might not have known.
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Some Cats Are Born Cross
Certain breeds like Balinese, Himalayan and Siamese, and/or mixes of these breeds, have higher incidences of cats being cross-eyed, but this doesnt necessarily mean they have vision issues. It worsens if the cat becomes excited or frightened and as the cat ages, Dr. Carney shares. We presume cross-eyed Siamese see what humans do when we intentionally cross our eyes, but because they see that all the time, its normal for them. My own Lynx-point Siamese-cross is very cross-eyed and can catch anything he hunts.
Comparing Vision: Cats Vs Humans
Have you ever wondered what the world looks like to your cat? First off, youve no doubt read about the fact that cats have better night vision than humans . Cats are most active at dawn and dusk which is why we suspect they require better night vision than us.
The reason is that cats have between 6 to 8 times more rod cells in their eyes than we do. These rods are the cells most sensitive to low light giving cats the night vision advantage over us.
It turns out that cats are also much better than humans when it comes to following fast-moving objects. In particular, their excellent night vision also allows them to better capture motion in the dark.
Cats also have a wider field of view than we do. This gives them greater peripheral vision . All the better to hunt with at night!
Well, a picture is worth a thousand words. Fortunately, Nickolay Lamm in collaboration with several cat and vision experts, created a series of illuminating illustrations intended to capture the differences between cat vision and human vision.
Weve shared these images in this post, and they nicely illustrate the human perspective shown on top, and the corresponding cats view in the lower image. Heres the first example in a night time settinghuman view vs. cat view :
OK so the score thus far is:
Night Vision: Cats: 1 / Humans: 0Peripheral Vision: Cats: 1 / Humans: 0Fast Motion: Cats: 1 / Humans: 0
But what about daytime vision?
Heres another example: :
What about resolution ?
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More Ways That Cat Vision And Human Vision Differ
As mentioned, cats have fewer of the cone photoreceptors in their eyes. Beyond changing how well they see in the dark, it also changes how cats see color. They arent completely color blind but dont see the vibrance in shades like we can, says Satchu. In 2013, an artist named Nickolay Lamm even went so far as to create renderings of what cat vision is like compared to humans. The results are fascinating.
There are also differences between cat and human vision when it comes to distance. Cats are near-sighted, so they can see close things really well, says Satchu. Humans have the ability to see far away much more clearly than their feline counterparts.
Thanks to their large corneas, cats also have a wider field of view. 200 degrees versus our 180 degrees, says Satchu. Think of it like walking around with a near-panoramic camera all the time.
So yes, cats can see in the dark, at least way better than humans. While they might not have the best nightvision in the animal kingdom, theyre certainly up there. Dont worry about leaving a light on for your cat when you go to sleep with their eyes, theyll be just fine navigating around your home in the dark.
Where Should My Cat Sleep At Night Time Info For Pet Parents
Where does your cat curl up for a good nights sleep? At one point or another you may have wondered if its safe for your kitty to sleep in bed with you. Maybe youve thought about whether or not theyre better off having their own bed.
Continue reading for a look at the case for and against your cat sleeping in your bed during the nighttime hours. But first, lets learn a bit more about cats and their sleeping patterns.
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What Makes Cats See Better At Night
Their ability to see better than humans in darker settings is due to a few factors. For instance, Dr. Greenstein explained that cats have more rods than cones in their eyes, which allows them to absorb more light. ” is extremely useful to help pounce on prey, especially at twilight,” she said. She also explained that cats have something called a tapetum at the back of their eyes, which is a reflective layer that enhances the amount of light that enters the retina. As it turns out, there is a fun fact associated with this part of a feline’s anatomy: “The reason that cats’ eyes have a kinda spooky glow in a flash photograph is simply a result of light from the camera flash reflecting off their tapetum!” said Dr. Greenstein.
Dr. Murithi also shared that a cat’s eye shape, which includes an elliptical pupil plays a critical role in allowing them to see better than humans at night. “They open wider, allowing more light to pass through the eye to the retina,” said Dr. Murithi. “This gives them better vision in low light.”
Overall, cats see pretty well in the dark, but to help them out a bit more Dr. Greenstein suggested setting up some nightlights so that your little furry friends can maneuver around the home in pitch darkness, and removing obstacles and other new objects from their path before bed.
Cats May See You As A Very Large Cat
Its quite clear that there are physical differences in the anatomy of cats and humans . While cats may recognize that we dont look exactly like them, the way felines interact with humans may reveal something bigger: That cats merely see us as very large cats with a little less balance.
Just compare how cats behave towards us and how they act toward other cats youll notice its quite similar!
Here are a few examples.
When a kitten kneads on her mothers belly, shes trying to stimulate milk production for feeding. Now, your cat has likely been apart from her mother since she was at least 12 weeks old. Yet you may notice that she kneads on your chest or the blanket beside you before she lays down for a nap. Shes not kneading for milk like she once did with her mother, but shes kneading you because you provide a source of comfort and have assumed a maternal role.
You also have to think about how cats greet one another. When your cat sees a neighborhood or household cat that shes friendly with, she may rub her nose or behind on the cat to say, Greetings. Interestingly, this is also how she greets you when you wake up in the morning or get home from a long day at work.
Some social cats will also groom one another in an attempt to bond, groom them, or even take care of one another in the hygienic sense. So if youve ever felt the sandpaper roughness of your cats tongue on your hair or on your skin, she was likely treating you how she would treat her feline friends.
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How To Get A Cat To Sleep At Night
If you follow the points mentioned above
This will help not only you get a goodnight sleep
Get your Cat to sleep at night too
That way you can play with your Cat during the day
Most importantly get a good nights sleep
Just to summarize on how to get a Cat to sleep at night
- Set up a schedule for your Cat and stick to this schedule. Cats love routine so try to ensure you go to bed at a certain time. This will help your Cat adjust to your timing
- Try and create the same environment every night. If you sleep with the lights off then turn them off. Create the same environment and your Cat will pick up that it is time to sleep
- As mentioned earlier, feed your Cat just before you go to bed. This will keep your Cat full during the night
- Play with your Cat during the day. Your Cat has plenty of energy especially if he is a Kitten. Try to tire them out during the day so they can sleep during the night
Its not impossible to stop your cat meowing at night
First its about understanding why your cat is meowing
And then attending to their needs
If your cat is getting you up at night for a feed then you should feed your cat before you go bed
Hopefully this keeps your cat full during the night
If this doesnt work then you should get a automatic pet feeder
At least your cat will have access to food and wont wake you up
I know it can be difficult to stop this behavior
And it may take time
But this is just a phase that will soon pass
Cat Eyes Vs Human Eyes
Cats have a wider field of vision than people. They can see more on the sides of their head, in other words. However, the difference is only by about ten degrees on each side not much.
This slightly longer field of vision helps them see prey animals that are scurrying around next to them.
On top of that, cats have lots of rods in their eyes. These are the structures that detect light and also movement. They have about six to eight times more rods than people do.
Cats can see the tiniest flickers of movement, and these changes in movement stick out considerably. Sure, we can see small movements too but they stand out to cats!
The increase in rods is precisely why cats can see better at night. It isnt that they can see everything the same at night and during the day. However, these rods help them notice small movements at night that we wouldnt be able to see. Even in low light, they can see a mouse scurrying across the ground.
However, cats also have fewer cones than humans. Humans have about ten times more cones than cats. We see much richer colors for this reason. It isnt that cats are colorblind. They cant see as many shades as we can. Many different shades of blue likely look like the same blue.
Their color range is a lot smaller.
Purple may look like blue, for instance. However, there is no way to really know.
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Can Cats Sense If You Are Stressed
Animals can be surprisingly aware of our emotions. Research has shown that dogs will comfort their humans when we are sad, and cats can pick up on our emotional gestures. According to new research from Nottingham Trent University, cats also notice when were stressed out or anxious, and can be less healthy as a result.
Cats Cant Tell Humans Apart Too Well
Theres no doubt that your cat knows who you are. She greets you at the front door when you get home from work, occasionally comes prancing over when you call out her name and kneads on your chest as she cuddles up for a nap.
Yet, studies show that cats arent too great at recognizing their owners faces, at least not as well as dogs can. When cats are shown an image of their owner, they can only identify them 54.5% of the time. Interestingly, they can pinpoint a familiar cats face 90.7% of the time.
While your cat may not be able to physically identify you as her owner through sight, she can recognize you in a much broader sense. That explains why she treats you her owner much more affectionately and loyally than your visitors.
Your cat will see who you are based on your:
- Voice: Your cat does recognize your voice, though most cats dont care to respond when their owner calls for them.
- Smell: Your cat has 40 times more odor sensors than humans , meaning she may identify you by your perfume, shampoo, or even your natural musk.
- Actions: Your cat may know its you coming down the stairs by the sound of your footsteps or hear the sound of food in their bowl and know its you preparing their meal.
The moral of the story is this: Your cat may not be able to pick out a picture of you in a photo line-up, but she sure can pick you out of a crowd if you allow her to use her other senses.
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