Every media depicts cats as some kind of creature of the night, so it’s pretty obvious that we all thought that felines have perfect night vision, but how much of this is actually the truth? Can cats actually see in the dark ? Don’t worry because we will give you the answer right here in this article!
First of all, all cats seem to do their hunting at night time. Many people that own cats are oh so familiar with waking up with little “gifts” by their side such as a sock or even a mouse! Sometimes they would be woken up simply by the sound of their hyperactive feline jumping off the walls during the night.
With all of that said it looks as if they really can see in the dark, and many people believe that theory, however it may come as a surprise to some to learn the fact that cats are actually crepuscular rather than nocturnal. What that means is that cats are more active, generally speaking, around the dusk and dawn period.
But, if they are really not nocturnal, how good is their vision? You can keep reading to find out all you need to know about a feline’s eyes!
Can cats actually see in the dark ?
The answer is no, cats can’t see in absolute darkness, at least not any more than we can. Although, they are better adapted than us for seeing in low light levels.
While it has been widely thought for the longest time that cats have some kind of night vision, the truth is that they need at least some level of light to see their surroundings. But they only need about one sixth of the amount of light that we do and can see in very low light levels.
So even though cats can’t see in absolute darkness, their sight is much more advanced than that of humans in lower levels of light so they can go on all sorts of night time journeys.
What is special about cats eyes ?
The reason that cats have excellent vision in low levels of light is because of the fact that they have intricately designed eyes. Cat’s have a curved cornea and large lens so that their pupils can dilate to full circles to allow a maximum amount of light in.
To add on to that, the photoreceptors that are found in a cat’s eye is completely different to the one we have. They have more rods, which are ultimately responsible for night, peripheral vision and motion sensing, while humans on the other hand have more cones which make them better at seeing colors and daylight.
Cats also have a tapetum, which is a reflective layer of tissue with the purpose to reflect light back into the retina, then this reflective layer bounces light back into the sensory cells, ultimately allowing the retina to receive more than about 50 % of the light that is there. This particular part is also why a cat’s eyes seem to glow when you take a photo of them with the flash on, or when seeing their eyes reflected by headlights.
A cat’s pupils can expand for maximum light
Many cat owners may have wondered why their feline friend’s eyes are mostly a straight vertical slit during the day, and then expand to a full circle at night time or when they are feeling particularly playful. This is because when their pupils are in a vertical slit shape it allows them to focus more, since the varying amounts of light can enter the eye through different areas.
A study done by the University of California in 2015 states that when a cat’s pupils dilate to full circles, then more light is allowed to enter the eye, this means that they can see pretty well in low levels of light, but it unfortunately makes their vision blurrier. Cats can also experience a 135 to 300 fold change, while humans on the other hand can only experience a 15 fold change in the area. This ultimately means that cats can adapt their eyes to see in a wider range of light levels than humans do.
What is a cat’s eyesight like ? How do cats see the world ?
While it is true that a cat’s vision is definitely much better at night than a human’s is, they are also generally near-sighted and don’t have the ability to focus well on objects at a distance. Humans, for example, can be up to 5 times further away to see something in the same amount of detail as a cat would see if it were up close.
Even though a cat’s vision is much blurrier than a human, they do have a wider field of vision of up to 200 degrees, while humans only have a field of vision of 180 degrees. Cats are better at picking up subtle movements and shadows as well as changes in light.