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Why Do Cats Eyes Glow In The Dark

Can Cats See In The Dark

Why Do Cat Eyes Glow in the Dark?

The feline eye is large and round, designed to optimize peripheral vision. In addition, this improves feline night vision. The size of cats eyes ensures that they absorb and reflect even the dimmest light.

Streetlamps, or even the light of the moon, will provide a cat with sufficient illumination to see well. This means that a cat can detect predators and hunt by night. Also, cats can feel their way around in the dark using their whiskers.

Cats eyes glow like small but penetrative flashlights in the gloom. This may look a little eerie, but it is a positive thing as it means that your cats night vision is operating at full capacity.

The Coat And Eye Color Factor

The animals age, as well as the color of his coat and eyes, can also influence this special luminescence, also known as eyeshine. Age can change reflectivity as the lenses become denser,” Dr. Powell says. “It decreases the animals ability to reflect light back out of the eye.

Cats with white coats and blue eyes can give off a red-eye effect in dark settings. The red-eye look is due to blood vessels in the eyes reflecting light.

As for tips for reducing that ghoulish glow when using a camera flash, Dr. Powell has two suggestions: Try to take a photo looking more into the bottom of your cats eyes and not have his eyes looking up, or take two quick shots using the flash, which causes the pupils to restrict. Flash first to make the pupils small, and then quickly take another photo.

Can Cats See In The Dark Discover With This Easy Activity

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One afternoon my sons had loads of questions about cats, mainly how cats see and why cat eyes appear to glow in the dark. Why do cats eyes glow? Maybe youre wondering Can cats see in the dark?

Why not, right? Their eyes glow. It seems like a reasonable conclusion.

So I set off researching for a science activity that would help us explore that concept. Sure enough, I found one in Janice VanCleaves Big Book of Play and Find Out Science Projects.

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What Is The Tapetum Lucidum

As we referenced above, the tapetum lucidum is not found in all animals and is not something humans possess. It is an iridescent membrane which reflects light back to the retina. This means it can better detect even the slightest ray of light in an environment. It is a natural way to enhance already good vision, kind of like a vision booster. In the dark, cats need to trap as much light as possible. This is why the pupils of a cat’s eye open so wide they are almost the size of the entire external eye. These pupils behave similarly to humans, except they are of an oval like slit shape when smaller.

When the light reflects off the tapetum lucidum back on to the retina, it causes the eyes to provide a glow or shine. This light is not new light emanating from the eye, but simply a reflection of any light which enters it in the first place. The membrane, however, can multiply this light up to fifty times. This is one of the reasons it can look so eerie when you see a cat’s eyes seemingly glow in the dark. It is also which this is a common feature of nocturnal animals.

Even so, it is important to remember that cats cannot see in total darkness. The process we have just explained can only occur if there is some light in the first place to reflect and enhance. Still, many people claim that cat’s can see in the dark. When there is no light whatsoever, something which is very rare even in the wild, felines use their other very acute senses to orient themselves to their environment.

Glowing Eyes In The Dark

Why do Cats

You may also have noticed glowing green eyes watching you from under your bed or table when the light hits your cats eyes just right. This green glow is caused by a reflective layer behind their retina called the tapetum lucidum.

Similar to when your eyes glow red in some pictures, we see that eerie green glow in cats when light hits their dilated eyes at just the right angle. This layer plays a significant role in their ability to see in low light environments as this reflective layer increases how efficiently a cats eye uses the available light. The tapetum lucidum reflects light that was not absorbed when the light first hits the retina back, giving it another chance to be absorbed. Incidentally, the light that is still not absorbed the second time exits the eye as that green glow.

The tapetum lucidum may also alter the wavelengths that cats see and make silhouettes of objects, such as prey, stand out more, which is quite useful when hunting in the late evening. These structures all help take advantage of the light in the environment and contribute a cats need for only 1/6 of the amount of light that humans need to see. However, the way that cats take in light is not the only difference between cat and human eyes. They also process the light differently, affecting the way that they see the world.

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Why Are Cats Able To See In The Dark

The feline eye is large and round, designed to optimize peripheral vision. In addition, this improves feline night vision. The size of cats eyes ensures that they absorb and reflect even the dimmest light. Streetlamps, or even the light of the moon, will provide a cat with sufficient illumination to see well.

The Science Behind Why Your Cat’s Eyes Glow In The Dark

If youve ever woken up in the middle of the night to see two glowing eyes staring at you from you across the room, you might think youve found yourself in a horror movie. But the chances are that its just your cat gazing at you in the dark, not a scary monster.

Dont worry, this doesnt mean that your cat has developed x-ray vision or the ability to shoot laser beams from their eyes, its just a strange phenomenon caused by the structure of their eyeballs.

Both cats and humans have a layer of tissue at the back of their eyeballs called the retina. This is made up of light sensitive cells that turn the light we seeinto electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the brain, which decodes them to work out what were actually seeing.

However, because cats are most active at dawn and dusk when there isnt as much natural light available, they need an extra tool to help improve their night-vision.

Behind the retina in a cats eyeballs, theres another layer of tissue called the tapetum lucidum. This acts as a mirror, picking up any light that passes through the retina and bouncing it back towards those light sensitive cells, giving it a second chance at being detected.

Not all of this light is picked up a second time around though, as some of it simply passes back through the retina again and travels out through the front of the eyeball. This is what makes it look as though your cats eyes are glowing.

If you dont have a cat though, then you might need to run!

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How Is The World Seen By Cats

Unlike humans, who have 180-degree vision, cats eyesight reaches 200 degrees, which implies a larger field of view.

There is a determining factor that occurs in the dark and that allows cats to see in the absence of light. Inside the eye there are two cells: cones and rods. The number of rods in cats is much higher than the number of cones. If on the one hand the rods are able to absorb much more brightness, on the other hand they have the defect of blocking in front of too intense light, as well as being responsible for a lack of sensitivity to colors.

For this reason cats can see much better in the dark, but at the same time they see everything clearer during the day, as if the world were filtered through a white film. However, it is advisable to specify that a cat will not see anything in absolute darkness, but that there is always a need for a minimum of light for its rods to do their job.

As we have seen, the fact that cats can see in the dark makes them extremely active at night. If this habit causes you discomfort, here are some tips to help you get your cat to sleep at night.

Do Cats Eyes Really Shine In The Dark

Interesting Facts Of Animals – Why Do Cat Eyes Glow In The Dark?

When in the dark the cat needs to capture more light, at this point the pupils dilate and occupy the whole part of the cats eye. In this way the tapetum lucidum assimilates the light, reflects it again and does the eyes of cats shine. So there brightness of the cats eyes in the dark it is the product of light that the latter manages to capture. Furthermore, precisely for this reason, cats are also capable of seeing in the dark much better than human beings.

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How And Why Do A Cat’s Eyes Glow

A cat’s glowing eyes are caused by incoming light reflecting off what’s called the tapetum lucidum Latin for “shining layer” explains Cat Health. The tapetum is a layer of reflective cells light bounces off it and reflects back to the cat’s retina. This creates the appearance of a glow. ScienceDirect reports that this glow can appear in colors including blue, green or yellow.

Cat Eyes In History And Pop Culture

theilr/FlickrA cat-eye marble, named for the felines’ impressive eyes.

Beginning with Ancient Egypt, cats and specifically their eyes made a huge impact on culture and beliefs. Prominently featured in all kinds of artworks, the Egyptians worshipped cats and considered them sacred. Domestic cats were regarded as living incarnations of the deity Bastet.

When Cleopatra began to outline her eyes with thick, dark copper ore and malachite to mimic a cat, the look became instantly iconic.

Fast-forward to the 1950s when liquid eyeliner was invented, and cat-eye makeup became a worldwide phenomenon. Now pair the look with a catsuit and a pair of cat-eye glasses, and you’ve nearly covered the whole cultural guidebook to worshipping cats.

You can see homages to cat eyes everywhere. There are marbles named for them, as well as nebulas deep in the heart of space. There are reflective road safety devices that are fittingly dubbed “cat’s eyes,” and they feature prominently in movie titles.

It’s easy to see how the incredible cat eye managed to capture the attention of the public, even if we weren’t already obsessed with cats, to begin with.

Next, read about a cat named Dymka who has bionic paws. Then, take a virtual tour of this Greek island that’s also a cat sanctuary.

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Why Cats Eyes Shine In The Dark

The pupils of cats eyes, like those of humans, dilate or shrink depending on the intensity of the light. But there is a particular reason why their eyes glow in the dark.

Glowing in the dark is a typical characteristic of our feline friends and common to all predators. This phenomenon has given rise to legends and superstitions but its actually due to the anatomy of their eyes.

Cat Eyes Vs Human Eyes

Why do cats eyes glow in the dark ?

Due to the structure of their eyes, including the tapetum, cats have better night vision than humans but they can’t make out sharp lines and angles. Everything looks a bit fuzzy to them.

Cats’ eyes are also very efficient. According to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, “cats need only 1/6th the illumination level and use twice as much available light as people.”

Another awesome advantage cats have over humans: they can use their muscles to control how much light enters their eyes. When a cat’s irises detect too much light, they turn their pupils into slits to absorb less light, explains the Merck Veterinary Manual. This muscle control also allows them to dilate their pupils on command, which broadens their field of vision and helps them find their way.

Don’t get frightened the next time you see your cat’s eyes aglow they’re just trying to get a better look at you!

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What Colors Do Human Eyes Reflect At Night

Human eyes would always reflect a red color. This is because we do not have the reflective layer behind the retina . Therefore the light will not be reflected back toward the photographer or the viewer.

So if you do see a human set of eyeballs lighting up in the dark it is typically because they are being photographed. They will appear red because of the blood vessels in the retinas in the eyes.

The light from the flash will enter through the center of the eye called the pupil and its size is determined by the iris muscle. If the pupil is small there wont be sufficient light to lit up the blood in the eye. This is why red-eye reduction software lets the cameras flash blink an extra time just before the photo is taken in order to let the eye reflect off the light of the flash instead of letting it into the eye.

Which Animals Have White Eyes At Night

Sometimes animal eyes will reflect a white light at night. We will finish off by looking at a couple of animals with bright white eyes in the night.

These three species have all been photographed with a flash on the camera. That enables the light to be reflected back as a very white and bright color.

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Why Do Animal Eyes Glow At Night

We find this feature among several vertebrates.

The reason why some animals have glowing eyes at night is due to a thin reflective layer behind their eyes . It is called Tapetum lucidum. This layer reflects the light back at you when you look at the animal in the dark. This phenomenon is also sometimes referred to as eyeshine.

This means that the light travels through the retina twice and is reflected back in a wide variety of colors.

This also means, that the light you see is just the reflection of the light source pointed toward them. This will typically be a flashlight or a camera flash. When the light is reflected back it can have the colors red, yellow, green, or white.

The light is reflected directly back toward the direction of the light source in order to let the retina have a clear and more vivid image to analyze. For cats, the reflective effect increases the vision by more than 40% thus giving the cats incredible night vision.

Its a genius way to add more light to the retina. Animals without this feature will only have the light pass through the retina one time. But the reflection adds more light and detail to the retina in order for the animal to see better in the dark.

This lets our nocturnal friends see better and further in the dark. Its both an advantage for the predators and for the prey and its a good reason to stay indoors if you live around wild animals. They will probably have way better night vision than you do!

The Scientific Fact Of Cat Eyes Glow


With the development of science, man began to understand phenomena that previously seemed mystical. So the glow of cats eyes got its explanation.

It turns out that everything is simpler than it seems. Since our pets hunt under cover of night, they should be well-versed in the dark. Right behind the retina of cats, there is a special vascular layer called tapetum, which resembles mother of pearl.

The tapetum mirrors the light entering the animals eye, which is why we see the glow. Due to the special structure of the eye, cats can see well in low light.

It is believed that cats can see in complete darkness, but this, of course, is not true. They also, like us, need a light source, they just do not need so much.

Do you believe the arguments of science? Or are glow eyes a connection with the another world?

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Cat Eyes Glow In The Middle Ages

This era can be safely called the worst in the history of cats. At this time, people believed that our pets were servants of the Devil, and glowing eyes only proved this. Cats were mercilessly exterminated until plague epidemics began in Europe. Then people once again realized how useful these wonderful animals are.

Cats Glowing Eyes Blue

All kittens are born with blue eyes. This means that young cats, in particular, will display glowing blue eyes at night. Over time, the color of many cats eyes changes. Blue eyes are common in certain adult cat breeds, though. Notable examples of blue-eyed felines are:

  • Balinese
  • Persian
  • Siamese

If your cats eyes are usually blue and they glow this color, its rarely a cause for concern. However, if your cat has white fur and blue eyes, check for black seal points. This suggests that the cat will retain age-appropriate levels of vision.

Unfortunately, white-furred, blue-eyed cats without these markings can be prone to early blindness. This will lead to eyes glowing red at night. The tapetum lucidum is not functioning appropriately.

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