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Why do cats’ eyes shine in the dark?

The eyes of many predators of the animal kingdom They glow in the dark, and your cat is no exception. Yes, your tender hairy friend, that of the cushions on the legs, has also inherited this capacity from his larger feline ancestors.

Finding a cat with eyes shining in the middle of the night can be frightening, and this quality has been the subject of myths and legends since ancient Egyptian times. Do you want to discover why cats’ eyes shine in the dark? Do not miss this article!

Where does the brightness come from?

The eye of cats is very similar to that of human beings, so to understand where the shine comes from, it is necessary to review a bit how the process of vision occurs in cats:

La light it is the most important element, since it bounces on the objects that are around, and this information crosses the cornea of ​​the eye. Once there, it passes through the iris and then the pupil, which increases or reduces its own size according to the amount of light in the environment (in greater light, smaller size requires the pupil, while in low light it increases its dimensions ).

Subsequently, the light reflection continues its course to the lens, which is responsible for focusing the object, and then to the retina, responsible for sending information about what the eye has perceived to the brain. When this information reaches the brain, the subject is aware of what he sees. The entire process, of course, occurs in a fraction of a second.

This happens in exactly the same way in both humans and cats, with the difference that the eye of felines has an additional structure, called tapetum lucidum, and that is responsible for the mysterious brightness they radiate.

What is the tapetum lucidum?

It is a membrane located in the back of the eye, responsible for reflecting back the light (and with it, the perceived image) towards the retina, offering greater opportunity to capture even the slightest ray of light that exists in the environment. In this way, power the vision ability. In the dark, the cat needs to trap as much light as possible, so that its pupils, which remain like slits in bright areas, dilate to almost the external size of your eye, to catch any rest of luminosity present in the environment.

When reflecting light again, the tapetum lucidum causes the cat’s eyes to shine, being understood that this brightness is not more than the product of the own light that the eye of the cat was able to perceive of the outside. This membrane multiplies that amount of light up to fifty times.

This is why the felines are able to see in the darkness much better than humans, and that most of the animals that become their prey. Thanks to this, the cats and their larger relatives have become great nocturnal hunters.

Even so, it is important to clarify that cats can not see in absolute darkness, because the process previously explained only occurs when there is some light reflection, even if it is very scarce. Sometimes when this condition is not met, the cats use their other senses, also acute, to orient themselves and know what is happening around them.

Brightness of different colors?

That’s right, not all cats shine their eyes in the same tone, and this has to do with the composition of their own tapetum lucidum, containing riboflavin y zinc. According to the smaller or greater quantity of these elements, the color will be one or the other.

In addition, the breed and physical characteristics of the feline also influence this, that is, it is linked to the phenotype. In this way, although in many cats the greenish reflex predominates, it can happen that in felines with very clear coats and bluish eyes, the brightness tends towards the reddish one, for example, or in others it is yellowish.

What happens with the flash of the photos?

Now that you know all this, you understand why your cat comes out with that terrifying twinkle in your eyes when you take a picture! The truth is that we recommend you avoid taking pictures with flash to your cat, because this sudden shine can be very annoying for the animal, apart from the fact that it is complicated that the result does not involve bright eyes. Discover tips and tricks to photograph cats.

However, if you can not resist and you want a photograph in which your cat goes well, we recommend focusing the cat from below, or try the burst mode, with which the flash will point once and the rest will be illuminated photographs, but without direct flash.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do cats’ eyes shine in the dark?, we recommend that you enter in our Curiosities section of the animal world.

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