Can Cats See in the Dark?

Posted by Megan Swinney
Can cats see in the dark

Cats are said to have excellent vision. But can they really see in the dark?

Cats' eyes see the world differently than human eyes. Cat owners see colors more vibrantly than their feline counterparts, but cats take the cake when it comes to night vision and peripheral vision. If you watch your cat walk around in the dark, it looks like they can see exactly where they are going with minimal effort. But how much can cats see in the dark?

How Cats See the World

As a cat owner, you already know that your feline friend sees things differently, especially if you have played with them with a laser. However, it does not necessarily mean they can see in complete darkness. In fact, just like humans, they cannot see in the dark, but they have an easier time seeing in lower light levels.

According to Live Science, one of the more significant differences between human vision and a cat's vision is a wider view. Cat's can see 200 degrees, while people can only see 180 degrees. Their peripheral vision is also larger, as their wider range of sight makes them excellent hunters.

Cats play during the day and at night, which may be why a cat's night vision needs to be great. Their eyes are made up of cones and rods, just like humans, but cats' eyes have six to eight more rods -- Rods are the cells that allow them to see more low light, and a high number of rods leads to better night vision.

Cat eye shape also allows them to see better in the dark along with their large corneas and tapetum, a reflective layer of tissue that is thought to reflect light to the retina's photoreceptors. This reflection allows them to pick up on any amount of light that may be around in the dark. The tapetum lucidum in the back of the eye is made up of 15 different cells and is also known as the mirror layer. Light bouncing off the receptors in this layer is what makes it look like their eyes glow at night.

All of this allows them to hunt their prey in dim light with a greater field of vision.

According to researchers at the University of California, Berkley, a cat's eyeballs' curved cornea have vertical pupils, which allow them to see shapes more sharply than humans due without light.

While a cat's eyes may function better in low light situations, the human retina has more cones (about ten times more), allowing people to see better in bright light. In fact, a person's visual acuity is actually better than a cat's.

Can Cats See Color?

RELATED: Cats Hunting: Why They Do It & Is It Harmful To Their Ecosytems?

There is much debate about whether or not cats are color blind. However, they do have limited color vision when looking at objects in their field of view.

Cats are also nearsighted. They only need about 20 feet to see things in the distance, but they have trouble seeing things close to their face. It is thought that cat's whiskers help them find balance, keeping them from running into objects as they walk around.

Their excellent hearing also lends to them being able to maneuver around in the dark.

Does your cat like to play in the dark? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

READ MORE: Why Do Cats Have Saggy Bellies?

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Can Cats See in the Dark?