The question of cats’ eyesight, and how much they can see, has been one that’s baffled owners and scientists alike. Not only have many of us wondered about their incredible night vision, the question of whether cats can see colour or not has often been argued over. There’s a common belief that cats live an exclusively monochrome existence. But what’s the truth? Are cats colour blind or can they appreciate a rainbow of hues just like we can?
Can cats see colour?
Yes, cats can see colours! Although they can’t appreciate the full spectrum and the vast variety of shades that we humans can, their world isn’t solely black and white like many previously believed.
What colours can cats see?
Which exact colours cats can actually see is still up for some debate. Some researchers think it’s only blues and greys, whereas others believe they can also see yellow too, like dogs can.
The most likely answer is that they see in a similar way to how a colour-blind person sees, which is in muted tones of blues, yellows, greens and greys. Reds and pinks can appear confusing and may look more like green, whereas purple may seem like another shade of blue.
How can cats see colour?
The way cats see colour is a result of the construction of their eyes. The retina (the light-sensitive part at the back of the eye) has two main types of cells: rods, which are responsible for their peripheral and night vision, and cones, which allow them to have day vision and colour perception. The ability to differentiate between colours is determined by the cones, which are special colour-sensitive cells.
However, the reason that cats’ range of hues is limited compared to humans is because they don’t have as many cone cells as us – we actually have 10 times more! In contrast, cats have a higher amount of rod cells than us, which is what allows them to see better at night.
Is a cat’s eyesight bad?
Where cats likely can’t see as many colours as us, their eyesight is actually better than ours in so many other ways. For one, they have excellent depth perception which helps them to hunt and track their prey. Additionally, cats can also see better in the dark as their eyes are designed to allow more light to reach their retinas and they also have more rod cells. This means they only need one sixth of the amount of light we do to see, making it much easier for them to see in low light.
Now you know what colours cats can see, you can use this knowledge when purchasing toys for them. As they can see blues, yellows and greens more clearly, why not go for toys in these colours?