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How Does My Cat See the World? - A Cat's Point of View

Updated on November 20, 2019
Donna-Rayne profile image

Donna is a writer and lover of cats. She has been a cat parent for many years. She loves sharing her love for all cats big and small!

Cat's eyes are full of mystery and beauty...
Cat's eyes are full of mystery and beauty...

How Do Cat's View the World?

There is nothing more beautiful than the sparkling eyes of a cat. They're big, bold, and vibrant! Some women try to emulate them with smokey eyes with perfect black eyeliner and there are even stones named after them! Cat eyes are mysterious and lovely and people all over the world are fascinated by them!

But what makes cat eyes so beautiful and how do they see the world through those captivating eyes? What does a cat really see? Well, it's like the color wheel, have you ever taken an art class or studied the color wheel? It looks like this:

An artist color wheel.
An artist color wheel.

Colors of the Rainbow

Now the defined colors that felines see are greens, blues, and yellows. But, they do not have the ability to see bright colors. For instance, If you were to look at a bright blue color, you would see bright, vibrant blue, cats, on the other hand, will ultimately see muted blue. A cat's vision does not detect vibrant colors as humans do but the cat is better at following fast-moving objects with colors that are less vibrant.

Scientists suspect that our feline's vision is one that would be comparable to that of a color-blind human. Just because a cat can see color doesn't mean they see color the way that you and I do. Keep in mind that their site is different, different hues, not as bright and limited.

"The typical artists' paint or pigment color wheel includes the blue, red, and yellow primary colors. The corresponding secondary colors are green, orange, violet or purple. The tertiary colors are green-yellow, yellow-orange, orange-red, red-violet/purple, purple/violet-blue and blue-green."

— Wikipedia
Top picture- as seen by humans Bottom picture - as seen by cats
Top picture- as seen by humans Bottom picture - as seen by cats | Source

An Artist Rendition of Cat's Vision

Let me introduce you to, Nickolay Lamm, he is a graphic artist and researcher. Mr. Lamm consulted with three experts on how cats view the world around them compared to humans.

The following pictures are what they came up with:

Source

How Does the Human Eye Compare to the Eye of a Cat?

Cats can't see the finest details or rich vibrant colors, however, they have superior ability to see in the dark because cats have what is called rods in their retina that are sensitive to low light.

Both cats and dogs have more rods than cones. Humans have 3 types of cones in their eyes to help them see reds, greens, and blues. Cats have 2 cones, green and blue, resulting in cats not being able to see colors as humans do.

Source

Cats Have Excellent Night Vision

Humans are pretty much blind in the dark and have a hard time seeing anything too far away. Cats, on the other hand, can see in the dark and pretty darn good but remember they are nearsighted; this means they only see 20 feet in front of them resulting in the ability to see their prey up close. Thus, They hunt close, watching and stalking their prey.

Objects in the distance:

  • Humans can clearly see 100 to 200 feet.
  • Cats can only see 20 feet in front of them

Cats have 6 to 8 times as many cells for seeing objects in dim light as humans do and cats see more in dark settings whereas humans are almost completely blind in the dark.

Cat's eyes glowing in the dark.
Cat's eyes glowing in the dark. | Source

Did You Know?

Cat vision fields are broader than ours and they see ultraviolet rays, therefore, making cats night vision 2 times more clearer than humans.

Cats Are Natural Night Hunters

Cat vision fields are much broader than humans and they have the ability to see ultraviolet rays, therefore, making cats night vision 2 times clearer than humans. The logical reason for this is that there's a structure "tapetum lucidum" behind your feline's eyes that reflects like a mirror and when the light shines in their eyes it mirrors off the back of their eyes and makes more light appear in front of them. (Kind of like a flashlight.)

This makes your cat's eyes (or dogs and foxes eyes are similar too) appear to glow when light bounces off of them making their night vision very clear enabling the cat to see 20 feet away so they can stalk and hunt their prey!


Top picture- as seen by humans Bottom picture - as seen by cats
Top picture- as seen by humans Bottom picture - as seen by cats | Source

Blue and Red Makes Purple

Cats see muted colors, in fact, they see less color than humans do. Let's examine the color wheel for clarity, Blue is a primary color and if you combine blue with red you get purple. Now, remember that cats only have green, blue and yellow cones although cats won't see purple and they will only see the blue hue of the object.

Various colors of cat toys:

If cats don't see all the colors of their toys, why do they make them so colorful? Because of YOU and ME! We like vibrant colors, so instead of buying colorful cat toys that are appealing to human eyes, buy toys in colors that your cat can see; blues, greens, yellows and including any combination of the three.

"But she loves the pink stuffed mouse I bought her."

She doesn't see pink, she loves the texture, she can't see any hue of red it would give your cat more pleasure if they could see what they are playing with. So why do cats play with the colorful toys we buy anyways? Texture, it feels good to their paws, etc.

So, the next time you go to purchase toys for your feline, make sure to get them in colors they can see, the texture they can feel, this enables them to have more fun playing with their toys.

Colorful toys your cat can't see!
Colorful toys your cat can't see!

Did You Know?

Cats are active in the twilight this is called crepuscular, meaning they are more active at dawn or dusk and their eye site reflects that, we know this as the Twilight!

Cats Are Crepuscular

Cats are active in the twilight this is called crepuscular, meaning they are more active at dawn or dusk and their eye site reflects that, we know this as the Twilight! As the sun sets, the twilight falls upon us, in the distance, the big cat stalks their prey. Slowly moving through the thicket, quietly not to be noticed... the hush of the breeze that comes from the south...

Stalking, slinking in the midst of the tall brush... every step carefully placed as she moves through the thicket, silence fills the air... The evening draws upon this cat who is on the prowl, the richness of light casts its shadow bouncing off her eyes to shine more light for this hunting expedition, This mystical creature, magically glides through the tall grass, slowly and watching every move...

Another day has passed as she delights in this wonderful adventure and the soft hue of the green grass and the softness of yellow as another sunset soon appears...

This IS The Mysterious Vision Of The Cat!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2019 Donna Rayne

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    • Donna-Rayne profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Rayne 

      4 months ago from Sutter Creek

      Thank you JC, cats tend to see more clearly about 20ft in front of them, so they need to be real close. Your cat probably sees you but is acting aloof as not to truly notice just so he can be a cool cat :)

    • JC Scull profile image

      JC Scull 

      4 months ago from Gainesville, Florida

      Very interesting article. My cat at times does not recognize me, especially when he is far away. I guess it's because of the way he sees. Thanks for sharing.

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