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How Cats See Compared to Humans

How Cats See Compared to Humans

Image credit: Nickolay Lamm


You will notice the elegant shape of a cat’s eyes and probably admire the many different colours of eyes cats have but did you know cats see differently to human beings?

So let’s look at the differences between the way our cat uses their eyes compared to humans.

There are a few differences to note that once you become familiar with will help you gain a better understanding of how your cat sees.


While most humans can see distances clearly from 100 to 200 feet away, your cat can see the same objects clearly from about 20 feet away.  What we would see as a crisp clear picture, your cat would see as a slight blur. In a lot of ways, feline vision is not as acute as humans and they tend to be more near-sighted than us.

Also with cats eyes being so large, they are unable to focus on anything less than a foot in front of them so use their whiskers to swing forward to help with identifying the object of interest. You may have noticed this when putting a toy or treat directly in front of your fur baby that they do not seem to see it at first and instead sniff around for what is in front of them. Show them the treat first from a normal distance away and they will come towards you having quickly judged the distance.

Night Vision

Understandably as cats are most active at night (crepuscular) their eyesight would have to compensate for this late-night activity and this is where cats have the advantage.

You see, cats’ eyes have 6 to 8 extra rod cells in their eyes compared to humans that allow them to detect lower levels of light and night motion, perfect for stalking.

Due to the clever placement of their eyes cats have an excellent peripheral vision too allowing them to see 200 degrees compared to 180 degrees in humans. They are specially adapted to detect fast movement so slow-moving objects may seem stationary or “boring” to your cat.


Colour Vision

Humans are allowed to see a broad spectrum of colours due to the number of light receptors  (cones) we have in our eyes. Cats are much more limited in the number of colours they see and scientists believe cats see in a limited colour spectrum of greys and blues rather than any more vibrant tones. So it seems we humans take the lead when it comes to who sees more colour.


Glow in the Dark

You have probably wondered why your cat’s eyes have been seen to glow in the dark, well this is due to some of those low-level light-absorbing rods we told you about earlier.

You see, behind your cat’s retina is something called the tapetum which acts like a mirror, reflecting light that passes between the rods and cones. It allows your cat to absorb the limited amounts of light available to their advantage and it is this reflection of light that makes your cat’s eyes glow in the dark.


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