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The eyes of cats are similar to those of people but evolution has made their vision focused on improving the hunting activity of these animals, predators by nature. As good hunters, the cats need to perceive the movements of the things that surround them when there is little light and it is not indispensable that they distinguish a great range of colors to survive, but even so, it is not true that they only see in black and white. In fact, they see worse than us when it comes to focusing objects up close, but nevertheless, they have a greater field of vision at great distances and are able to see in the dark.
If you want to know how cats see, keep reading this article in which we will teach you a few important points to take into account when it comes to knowing how cats see.
To understand well how cats see, we must refer to the specialist in cats and scientist at the University of Bristol, John Bradshaw, which states that the eyes of cats are larger than those of humans because of its predatory nature.
The fact that the predecessors of cats (wild cats) had the need to hunt in order to feed themselves and prolong this activity during the maximum hours a day, caused their eyes to transform and increase in size, being larger than of humans, in addition to being arranged in front of the head (binocular vision) to cover a greater field of vision as good predators. In fact, the eyes of cats They are very big compared to their heads if we compare them with our proportions.
Due to the need to prolong the hunting time at night for wild cats, the ancestors of domestic cats developed a Night vision between 6 and 8 times better than that of humans. They are able to see well even with minimal dim light and this is because they have a greater number of photoreceptors in the retina.
In addition, cats have the so-called tapetum lucidum, an ocular tissue complex that reflects light after having absorbed a large amount and before reaching the retina, which makes them have a sharper vision in the dark and their eyes shine in the gloom. That’s why when we take a picture at night, the cats’ eyes shine. So, the less light there is, the better is how cats see compared to humans, but at the same time, felines see worse in daylight due to the tapetum lucidum and the photoreceptor cells, which causes them to limit their vision by absorbing a lot of light during the day.
As mentioned above, the light receptor cells responsible for the vision of cats are different from ours. Although both felines and humans share the same type of photoreceptors, the cones to distinguish colors with intense light and the canes to see in black and white with dim light, these are not distributed with the same proportion: while in our eyes dominate the cones, in the eyes of cats dominate the canes. And not only that, but also, these rods do not connect directly with the ocular nerve and, consequently, directly with the brain as it happens in humans, but they connect first among them and form small groups of photoreceptor cells. So, the night vision of cats is excellent compared to ours, but by day the opposite happens, and it is the felines that have a blurred vision and less clear, because their eyes do not send to the brain through the ocular nerve a detailed information on which cells have to stimulate more.
Formerly, it was believed that cats could only see in black and white, but that myth has already gone down in history as multiple studies have shown that cats can distinguish in a limited way some colors and depending on the ambient light there is.
As already mentioned, the photoreceptor cells responsible for perceiving the colors are the cones. Humans have 3 different types of cones that capture red, green and blue light; instead the cats only have cones that capture green and blue light. So, they are able to see the cool colors and distinguish some warm color like yellow but they do not see the red color that they perceive as a dark gray. Nor are they able to perceive colors as vivid or saturated as humans, but they do see colors like dogs.
An element that also influences the vision of cats is light, which means that the less light there is, the less the cats’ eyes can distinguish colors, so cats only come in black and white in the dark.
According to artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm of the University of Pennsylvania, who has done a study on feline vision along with the help of several feline ophthalmologists and veterinarians, cats perceive a field of vision greater than what we perceive.
The felines have a field of vision of 200 degrees, while humans have one of 180 degrees, and although it seems little, it is a significant number if you compare the visual amplitude, as for example, in these photographs of Nickolay Lamm where in the Top part shows what a person would see and in the bottom part the same thing that a cat would see.
Finally, to understand better how cats see, we have to look at the clarity of what they see. People have greater visual acuity when focusing on nearby objects because our peripheral vision range on each side is smaller than that of cats (20º compared to their 30º). That is why humans can focus with clarity up to a distance of 30 meters and the cats only get to 6 meters to see the objects up close. This fact is also due to the fact that they have bigger eyes and have less facial muscles than we do. However, the lack of peripheral vision offers them a greater depth of field, which is very important for a good predator.
In these photographs we show another comparison of the researcher Nickolay Lamm about how we see ourselves closely (photo above) and how they see the cats (photo below).
If you want to read more articles similar to How do cats see?, we recommend that you enter in our Curiosities section of the animal world.
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