Cats See the World Differently Than We Do
You might think you know how cats see the world, and you’d be right, to an extent. However, cats have different visual capabilities than we do, as well as different physical limitations when it comes to processing what they see. Their vision can actually be a bit blurry if they don’t use their whiskers correctly, and cats’ brains are structured differently than ours are, allowing them to process visual information much more efficiently than we can. Cats may not be able to see the world exactly as we do, but they sure do take some incredible pictures!
Dogs vs. Cats
Most of us know that dogs and cats see things differently. If you’re not convinced, there are a few tests you can take to show it. There’s the depth perception test (which tells you how good they are at seeing distances) and there’s also the vision tester (which reveals if they have cataracts or an eye disease). But what about their eyes? There is one thing that seems to be missing in all these tests—their pupils. People may mistake cats for being nocturnal because of their large pupils, but what does this really mean? It means that when their pupil size increases, so do their ability to see in low-light conditions. When we expose them to bright light, their pupils contract in order to let less light into the eye.
The cat’s eye view of humans
Cats have sharp night vision, which is due to their vertical pupils. The color receptors of a cat’s retina are distributed evenly across its retina, so it can see colors that we cannot see. When humans see the world, only about 10% of our optic nerve fibers connect with color receptors in the back of our eyes; but for cats, about 50% of their optic nerve fibers will connect with color receptors in their retinas. This lets them see small movements more clearly and can detect quick color changes better than human eyes.
The next difference between humans and cats is that they have a third eye called the ‘pineal gland. The pineal gland doesn’t give them sight as a regular eye does, but it controls some circadian rhythms and emotions.
The feline senses
Domestic cats have about two-thirds of the vision capability of humans. Cats’ eyes are on either side of their head, so they can see both in front and behind them. Cats also have a tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back onto the retina. The tapetum lucidum causes cats’ eyes to glow at night when they’re hunting. It also gives a cat natural night vision that rivals most dog breeds’ abilities – perfect for catching prey!
This fantastic little structure around a cat’s eye makes nighttime hunting possible, but it also diminishes some of its sights by reflecting too much light back into its eyeball and focusing only on details up close or in low-light situations.
How cats see in color
It’s only recently that science has discovered that cats can see color. Humans see in different shades of red, blue, and green but cats have access to three other types of color-ultraviolet, violet, and near-infrared.
It turns out that these ultraviolet colors are what cat eyes have evolved to pick up the best. This allows them to absorb a lot more information than they could if they were limited to the range of human vision. For example, because they’re so sensitive to ultraviolet light, felines can see things at night (i.e., phosphorescence) that humans can’t.
Cat night vision
One of the reasons we might think that cats see things differently than we do is that their eyesight is much more sensitive to light. The retina in a cat’s eye is composed of horizontal cells, which register more changes in brightness and color with less exposure to light. Cats have three times as many rods and seven times as many cones as humans, which means they can see at a much greater range and recognize individual colors better than humans, who mostly see shades of green and brown. In general, cats have evolved so they’re naturally equipped to hunt under low-light conditions, while we need artificial lighting.
However, cat night vision isn’t perfect.
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Tapping into the perspective of cats can be eye-opening, to say the least. Studying how they interact with their environment has led to new findings on everything from animal welfare and mental health to even infectious disease control. For instance, in one study on chronic pain sufferers with restricted movement or limited interaction with others, spending time with animals helped participants recover faster by encouraging better moods. And that’s not all! Let’s take a look at what our feline friends see every day when they walk down their catwalks…
Cats don’t just rely on vision – They use their whiskers and nose as well The tiny filaments on a cat’s whiskers can detect air currents which indicate where there are gaps between objects.
What do you think about how cats see the world?
There are many differences between how cats see the world and how humans do. Cats can see in complete darkness, detect movements up to sixteen feet away, identify humans and other animals by their smell alone, distinguish shapes through a motion at rates much faster than a human, and see prey that is located outside of their field of vision. In comparison, humans have a more restricted field of vision because our eyes have to point forwards. We also need better light to determine shapes and objects in our environment. But while this is all fascinating on paper, it’s also important to understand just how significant these differences are.
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