Cat Vision Pictorial Examples
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Cat Vision

Cat Vision Nighttime

The pictures show comparisons between cat and human vision. They show what a cat sees compared to what people see. This is speculative. It is guesswork based on what scientists have decided. We will never know for sure.


The interesting point about trying to show what a cat sees is that we don’t know how the cat’s brain processes the information that the eye sends it. We are mainly focusing on the structure of the eye including the light sensitive cells in the retina. It is generally agreed today that the cat does not register reds or colors akin to red. For that reason daytime cat vision should be bluish. However, the cat’s brain probably processes the bluish caste out leaving the image neutral, which is what I did.


The pictures are based on the following differences:

Cats eyes are designed to pick up movement in low light conditions because they mainly hunt at dusk and dawn, resulting in light sensitive eyes but eyes that focus less well (less sharp) and which register colour less well. Cats see “blue and yellow colors, but not red, orange or brown”2. In a previous post on this subject I stated that cats were “red color blind or perhaps red-greed color blind”, which, however, is more or less the same thing. However people are not sure how good a cat’s color vision is. In the past experts have stated that cats were colorblind.

A cat’s eyes are much larger than ours relative to head size, and have better peripheral vision because they are more forward in the head than ours. Cats see 200 degrees compared to the 180 degrees of people. Although a simple test confirms that at the outer reaches of peripheral human vision it is next to useless. I would suggest that human peripheral vision is nearer 120-160 degrees. One source1 says 120º. Let’s just say that cats have more peripheral vision and leave it at that.

Of course both for cats and humans, the peripheral part of our vision is blurred. Apparently, a cat’s eyes are more deeply recessed but I am not sure about that. Cats also have less good vision at a distance.

To summarise in plain language:

PROPERTYCATHUMAN
ColourWeaker colour than human Good colour – better than cat
Peripheral  Very good 200º Less good than cat at 120-180º
Sharpness Average – worse than human Good – better than cat
Night vision Excellent – much better than human Much worse than cat

Refs:

  1. Wikipedia.
  2. Popular Science – see their examples which are probably a bit better.
  3. Nighttime picture by byJoeLodge
  4. Note: My thanks to Ruth aka Kattaddorra for showing me the Popular Science page.
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This entry was posted in Cat Anatomy, cat eyes and tagged , , by Michael Broad. Bookmark the permalink.

About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!

Comments

Cat Vision Pictorial Examples — 13 Comments

  1. There is not enough photos of the amazing sightings of what our cats can see. It is so interesting the difference that I had no idea of. So I am hoping that there could be some more photos installed for others to be astonished of by letting us know the amazing nature of one of favorite animals.

    • Hi Greebler. She cat see red but not well and also she sees moving objects extremely well. Cats are attuned to movement. So, she will see an object (a blob of light that is grey/red) moving fast and randomly and believe it is prey.

  2. Really interesting Michael despite their visual differences compared to us they do pretty well 🙂 Interesting to watch cats as well when they are watching ‘cat videos’ I would imagine a lot of the studies would be based on what they take notice of and what they don’t.

  3. My sister and I were just talking about this. What an interesting photo comparison you setup. I think the fact that they can see shadows better means they can catch the smallest movement in low light. They are night hunters, so it makes sense. Great post. Thanks!

    • Thanks Dan. It is quite tricky to do the images. Based on the information we have I think it is fairly well done.

      As I say in the article we might have some idea as to what the cat’s eye can receive and process but we don’t know how the cat’s brain renders the image in the brain. This is the other half of seeing. The brain may sharpen it and color balance the image for all I know!

      • Well the scientist are generally pretty good at this stuff. I think they don’t rule out other possibilities, they just accept the ones that they can prove. We know that the wildcats in Africa do not see well in the day at all. They are able to see movement, which is enough for the Cheetah to see their prey.

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