colours cats can see

Which Colours Can Cats Really See?


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We wanted to know what colours cats can see, if any, because we heard the long-standing myth that they only see black and white was hogwash. Do they see the world in the same way as us, or in their own unique feline way? And surely there are other interesting facts about their eyes – those alien-like, stare-y eyes?  

Also unlike humans, kittens open their eyes after a few weeks; so does that mean their eyes are special? Read below to find out.

PS: Ever wondered whether dogs really are colour blind – find out in our ‘can dogs see colour‘ article.

colours cats can see

What colours can cats see?

Scientists and animal lovers alike have long wondered how cats see colour, and the research yields some pretty incredible results. Cats can see colour; however, they can’t appreciate all the colours we do as humans.

How eyes work

To make it easier to understand, let’s briefly go over how eyes function in general. There are nerve cells inside the eye that help us see and understand colours. Inside the eye retina there are two types of cells – rods and cones. Cones are what we use to differentiate colour.

Humans and cats have three types of cones that are used to identify combinations of red, blue and green. Interestingly, dogs only have two cones (for blue and yellow), which is why they’re described as colour blind. 

How cat and human eyes differ

Cats and humans may have the same number of different types of cones BUT humans have 10 times more cones than cats. This means cats can see fewer colour variations than we can. 

So cats can see colour, but the science is not clear on exactly what colours they can see. Some scientists believe that cats see only blue and grey, and then other scientists think they can also see yellow, just like their canine counterparts.

colours cats can see

Colours cats can see and a cat’s eyes

Cats’ eyes have some unique characteristics that make them special. Evolution has given animals unique ways to survive depending on their environment and how they interact with it. 

Interesting fact no.1

Intriguingly, cats are nearsighted. They can see objects under 6m away from them clearly, but as they try to focus on objects further away they become blurry and obscured.

Interesting fact no.2

These furry felines, as you may have noticed, have elliptical pupils. And these pupils dilate maximally, allowing them to capture as much light as possible. This means they’re able to see better in dim lighting, and they’re also less sensitive to changes in brightness.

Siberian cats are top of the hypoallergenic cats list

Interesting fact no.3

As we mentioned before about colours cats can see, there are two types of cells in our retinas – cones and rods. And while humans win the award for most cones, cats have more rods. Rods help to see movement, meaning cats can more accurately detect motion. Even tiny movements at great distances. While it might be a bit blurry, they can still pick it up.

Interesting fact no.4

Finally, cats have their eyes on the sides of the head. Imagine a chameleon. This helps them see a larger area, giving them a wider range of vision. But there’s a trade-off – their depth perception is not so great. Maybe that’s why they have whiskers?

Now you know what colours cats can see, why not get an answer to some other burning cat questions you may have. Like why do cats knead? And why do cats purr? And of course, possibly the most wondrous: what is Schrodinger’s cat

a cat has just completed vaccinations as routine cat health care colours cats can see

Keep your eyes on the prize

Now you know what colours cats can see; and while you might not be able to see as well as your kitty in dim light, humans have the power of foresight! And that is incomparable (it also doesn’t require eyes). 

Cat insurance is peace of mind for the rest of your furball’s life. Get a PD Insurance pet insurance quote today and avoid worrying about all kinds of unexpected medical expenses over the many years of your cat’s hopefully long lifetime. 

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