Ever wondered what it is that your beloved fur ball of a cat sees when she is staring at you or at that dark corner that has nothing on? (Scary, I know, but that is cats for you).
Cats are by nature hunting animals which in reality give you an idea of what kind of eyesight they have, one that will allow them to spot, watch and pounce on their prey even in the dark.
Talking about night vision, cats are known to have about 200 degrees field of view and a peripheral vision range that is very good. These qualities give them the advantage of better eyesight and that is why they are able to spot something so far away or so tiny.
Ever wondered why your cat is always so active in the morning and in the evening but so docile during the day? As it turns out, there is a scientific explanation to that and it is known as being crepuscular, that is, your cat is an animal that is active at the start of the day and at the end of the day.
The above explains why they have excellent night vision because they are active at those times, which tend to be dark.
Now, let us have a look at the eye structure of the cat. They have elliptical eye shape and corneas that are larger than usual. They also have a tissue that reflects light back to their retinas called tapetum. This tissue helps the eye gather more light.
This tissue known as tapetum is thought to help the cat see well at night by shifting the wavelengths of light that the cat sees, making the images more prominent.
And the reason why they sense motion in the dark quicker than as mere mortals is because of the extra rod cells that they have.
Now, let us ask they question again, are cats color blind?
Well, it has definitely been proven beyond doubt that cats can see more than just black and white.
In the early 20th century, someone did a simplistic study whereby they placed colored fish in bowls and had cats choose which bowls had the colored fish. Well, if you think about it, this was quite exciting for the cats and really, it would have been the equivalent of taking kids into a candy store and asking them to choose a certain type of candy.
Just like those kids, it was difficult to have the cats choose specific colored fish because like any cat owner knows, it is difficult to train a cat to do just about anything, they have a mind of their own and really, you do not tell a cat to sit and she sits, it is just not happening. So that experiment was trashed and more better detailed ones were done.
After a long trial process, the cats were trained to separate colors like red, green, blue, yellow and red lights.
Well, we have seen they have impeccable night vision, which in effect tells us that their day vision is somewhat disadvantaged.
When you look at the human eye, it has more light receptors known as cones, about 10 times more than the cat. These cones give the human eye better functionality in the day light than the cat. This is an advantage for human beings as we get to have better motion detection in the day which is quite a disadvantage for the cats as they lose that ability in the day.
As human beings are blessed to have three types of cones which allow us to see a whole spectrum of color that lean more to the red, green and blue colors. The cats on the other hand have the three cones but the distribution and the number of each cone fluctuates which in effect affects how cats see color.
When it comes to the nearness or farness of objects and how clear they are, the humans win by far. We are able to clearly see objects as far as 200 feet away. The sight resolution is really good and the color range is excellent.
For the cats though, they have to be give or take about 20 feet away from the object to be able to have a clear and sharp image.
Again, cats will have a difficult time differentiating the different shades that lie in the same range, red and orange is the same color for the little fur balls and it applies to blue and purple or yellow and orange etc. Unlike us, the cats’ ability to see light is not hindered by the violet wavelengths.
Oh, on a trippy note here, when a study was done on mammals, including cats, it was discovered that they were able to see ultraviolet light, a light that is totally invisible to us mere mortals.
The fact that they can see ultraviolet light means that they have an ability and use of that ability that we are still trying to figure out.
But it is a given that their ultraviolet vision allows them to see more colors and notice things that our naked, non-ultraviolet human eyes cannot notice.
All in all, cats are not colorblind. Whatever eyesight they have, they have it for a specific purpose and we know it is to hunt which is done in the dawn or dusk, a time when their vision should be impeccable because it is dark.
So when you think little fur ball does not see that cute, colorful playing toy you bought her, she most probably sees it and enjoys its beautiful colors, it is just that she is not going to be playing at that particular time, but when you are set deep in slumber land, that is when she is up and wants to play with it.
Yep, the problem here is the human active time and the cat active time, it just differs, do not blame their eyesight, fur ball probably sees more in the dark than you do.