Cat Vision, How Cats See The World
A Cat's Eyesight
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How Cats See The World
Beautiful, intense, warm, and a little freaky all come to mind when we think about a cats eyes. How much of what we think we know about these feline peepers is true? Do they really have superior super-feline vision? Does that reflection in the night happen for a reason? How does a cats vision measure up to human or canine sight? And finally, do cats see in color like we do? Today we will be taking a look at just how well our feline friends see, and how it compares to other sighted creatures. Next time you look into those kitty cat eyes, you'll know exactly what you're looking at!
Do Cats See in Color?
Cats and Color Savvy Sight
Cats don't exactly see in "full color". To be a successful predator—which cats are very much so—they don't really need to see in a full spectrum of colors. Even though cats would appear to see the view around them in an overlapping binocular night vision of gray-scales, whites and blacks (as the day turns to night they require very acute visual ability), test results would indicate that they manage to gradually discriminate between colors. Cats actually use all of their genetic senses to "feel" their way through life. This is never more utilized then when hunting prey in the dark and, as with other predatory species, cats don't really need to see all of the colors in the spectrum to keep their family fed.
Do Cats Have Better Vision Than Humans?
A Cat (vs) Human Sight Study
When it is all said and done, we humans have just about the same binocular vision as do our feline counterparts. With that being said, humans do have a lesser fixed field of vision than do cats. Our eyes are placed—literally—parallel on our egg-shaped (oblong) face. This design gives us a slightly smaller fixed field of vision when compared to that of cats. The sight architecture of a cat is such, that its eyes are placed marginally to either side of its thinner narrower face. A humans overlapping vision spans around 210 degrees, whereas a hunt prepared cat gets about 285 degrees of fixed field of vision.
CAT FIELD OF VISION DIAGRAM
Do Cats See Better than Dogs?
Dogs Rarely Forget that Cats Have Sophisticated Sight
Only due to the fact that cats are sporting a more sophisticated eye structure which allows for some night vision, do they see any better than our dogs. In truth, there is little to no difference between canine and feline vision, although dogs usually have a narrower field of vision. With the many "task specific" K9 scull configurations—for example; Greyhound (vs) bulldog scull structure—you would think this comparison to be unmeasurable. But, it has been tested and on average, a dogs fixed field of vision ranges from 250 degrees to 290 degrees, where they fall short in terms of a cat is in binocular overlap, which is 80 to 110. (A cats binocular overlap is 130; a humans is 120). See diagram "Cat Field of vision" for stereoscopic effects in all three species.
Tapetum Cells Make Cat Eyes Reflective
Why Do Cat Eyes Reflect Light?
Night Sight in Cats: Shiny Bowls of Light
And the answer is "tapetum!" The eyes of a cat have a reflective layer of cells directly behind their retina, which is called tapetum. Any of the light that does not get captured by the microscopic rod-like materials located at the very back of a cats eyes—particularly when the pupils are open and dilated wide—gets bounced back out of the eye. This action is what creates the distinct and characteristic glow or shine seen in a cats reflecting eyes. You will notice this effect in most land carnivorous and seals. If you catch them just right, even a hungry humans eyes will reflect the light in this same manner. Twilight anyone? Give it a try; shine a light into a cat's eyes at night when the pupils are large, and see the excess light get bounced back at you like two bright headlights. The image at right shows you the results I got when I did this little experiment!