We, humans, get to see a planet in its vibrant form, but when looking into a world with the array of a kaleidoscope, can cats see color? Many people want to know the answer so they can choose a toy that is more pleasing on the eye, or just better understand our furkids.
We are going to tackle this, and a series of other related questions in the following article. We will discuss what a cat can and cannot see, how blurry or dark the world is, and how good their eyesight is in the daytime. It’s prudent to add that a cat does not enjoy the same array of colors that we humans do, but they are far from living in a black and white world.
What Color Can Cats See?
The all-important retina is made up of rods and cones in both humans and cats. These nerve cells determine what we (and animals) see in the world around us. The rods are found in the outer ring of the retina and detect motion, working better in dim light. It is the cones that help our level of perception when it comes to color, and are far more effective in light conditions.
Humans have ten times the number of cone cells in their retina compared to cats which means we enjoy a wider spectrum of color. Still, cats have three cones that can detect red, blue, and green as well as hue combinations for these colors.
Scientists believe that the likes of grey and yellow may still be perceived by felines. This shows that although their range of color is not a full rainbow, or particularly close to what we enjoy, they are still not looking at the world through black and white alone. So, can cats see color or black and white? The short answer is yes they can see color, but not all.
So, What Colors Do Cats See Best?
Many experts believe that violet shades and blues are the easiest colors for a cat to see best.
As mentioned, a cat can see certain shades of blues and some greens, but much like a human that is color blind, will struggle even with many shades of green and red. Their color spectrum is not as vibrant which means some purples may appear blue. Many experts believe that violet shades and blues are the easiest colors for a cat to see best.
Are Cats Attracted To Certain Colors?
Despite some sources suggesting otherwise, there is no evidence to suggest that cats are attracted to certain colors. Even the blues and violets of the world that they pick up better, do not seem to attract them.
Cats use colors to pick up small movements. If you have two different colored toys that your cat seems to play with more than the other, it is far more likely that the shape is what attracts them. Even if they are identical apart from the color, any favoring of one over the other is not down to its appearance.
Do Cats Dislike Certain Colors?
Let’s talk about toys, The same can be said about any distain showed towards a certain color. If they seem to turn their nose up at one, it is more likely to be that it does not interest them because of the type.
It would be difficult for a cat to dislike a color since they are not seeing it in the same way as you and I. If a cat does not see a vibrant red or orange then it is not going to bother them.
Even when it comes to the colors that they do pick up like blue, they are seeing a less vibrant version. So, anyone wondering can cats see color as a danger or as something to avoid, it is not possible.
Do Cats See Better At Night?
Although color perception may not be their greatest asset, a cat can see remarkably well at night. This is because their retinas enjoy a large number of rod cells. Compared to humans, they have up to 8 times the amount of rod cells in their retina. Because of this, they can see better in dim conditions and enjoy detailed vision for detecting motion.
This is also down to the shape of their eyes. With large lenses, a curved cornea, and the ability to dilate the pupils in low light to let in as much light as possible.
One 2015 study by the University of California found that when they dilate, cats’ eyes allow more light to enter. As a result, they can see better in low light, although this may make their vision blurry compared to daytime. Their diverse eyesight makes them adaptive and goes a long way towards explaining why they are often found prowling no matter what time of day.
Can Cats See Better Than Humans?
We’ve already established that humans can see more colors than cats, and cats can see better at night but the differences don’t end there. Cats can perceive different colors, but not in the same way. This is because they are not so sensitive to the brightness of a color. Because of this, the tones may not be so rich even if they can distinguish colors.
Also, a cat has a different field of vision, and unless close up, things get blurry for our feline friends. At a distance, humans can still see with relative accuracy whereas an object needs to be a lot closer to a cat for it to not be blurry. Around 20 feet is the distance from which a cat will be able to see objects in a sharper way.
So, Cats Are Near-Sighted
Yes, they are. Humans can stand around 5 x further away than a cat to still see in focus. This doesn’t mean they cannot detect movement at a bit of a distance, but a cat will not enjoy the same clarity.
Because their field of vision is 200 degrees, making it wider and giving them enhanced peripheral vision compared to the 180 degrees that humans enjoy. This enhances their ability to hunt. Combined with the fact that they can pick up changes in light and small movements, it explains how they are able to bring in mice and birds at all times.
Can Cats See Color At Night?
Because they do not see color in the rich way that humans do in the daytime, it is unlikely that cats can see much in the way of color at night. That being said, if the conditions are closer to dim light than darkness, they may see some color.
This is still limited to the narrow spectrum of color that cats can see in the daytime. A lot of people wonder if cats can see in total darkness but just like humans, they are not able to see in the pitch black. The conditions still need to allow at least a low level of light in.
Why Do Cats See What They See?
Much like the human need to take in more colors for their needs, cats need to be able to see better in low light for theirs. In rural areas, the ability to be able to stalk prey at night has been crucial to a cat’s survival long before they have been domesticated. This will increase their chances of success when hunting. Not only that but it will aid their fight or flight mode where a predator may be stalking them.
Being able to detect movements at a distance in low light can be the difference between life and death. This explains their need for better vision in low light, and why seeing multiple colors is not a necessity.
So, anyone who is looking for the ideal toy and needs to know if cats can see color should know that although they can see some colors, it might not impact how much enjoyment they get from a toy.
Their eye sight is pretty special and although it differs from us humans, it is perfectly adept to their unique needs. If your cat has escaped as is out at night or they always seem to come back after hours, the chances are that they are fine.