Can Cats See Color?

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Mike Tanaka


Hello, fellow cat lovers! As a veterinarian in training specializing in cats, one of the most common questions I receive is, “Can cats see color?” 

Today, I’m here to demystify this intriguing aspect of our whiskered companions’ perception.

Difference between human and cat eyes

Cats can see some colors, but not as many as us. This is because humans have 3 cones in our eyes that help us see in 3 primary colors : red, blue and green. 

On the other hand, cats have only 2 cones to help them pick up the colors blue and green.

This means for cats, color such as purple which is a mix of red and blue will appear blue to them since they are not able to see red!

So next time you’re picking out a toy for them, try to pick blue, green or gray ones to cater to their color palette and make playtime even more enjoyable.

Adaptation to hunting in low light 

Although humans have more cones in their eyes than cats, cats have more rods than humans.

Rods inside the eyes help detect motion and help give good vision in low light. 

This greater rod cell presence gives cats exceptional night vision, allowing them to navigate and hunt effectively in dimly lit environments.

Excellent motion detectors

Since cats have a higher number of rod cells than humans, this means they’re particularly adept at detecting movement. 

They have a keen ability to focus on small details, which helps them track prey with precision.

Cats are crepuscular animals

Crepuscular animals are most active during dawn and dusk. This behavior stems from their wild ancestors, who hunted during these times to avoid larger, daytime-active predators.

Limited Depth Perception

Cats have a bit of a challenge when it comes to depth perception. Their eyes are set a bit wider apart on their heads compared to ours. This gives them a wider field of view, but it can make judging distances a bit trickier.

Pupil Shape

Cats have a unique, slit-shaped pupil. This is an amazing adaptation that allows them to adjust the amount of light entering their eyes very quickly. It’s like having built-in sunglasses!

Communication Through Eyes

Cats use their eyes to communicate with us and with other cats. Slow blinking, for example, is a sign of trust and affection.

In conclusion, while cats don’t experience the kaleidoscope of colors that humans do, their unique vision is a purrfectly adapted to their crepuscular, predatory lifestyle!

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