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How your cat sees

Your feline friend’s eyes tell you much about how they are feeling than you might realise. Large, wide eyes can mean they are excited, surprised or even scared - or perhaps they are about to pounce on their unsuspecting prey! A direct stare is confrontational and when their pupils are small slits and vertical, it indicates a contented bagpuss.

Safer Pet wanted to peer into the world of a cat to see how they see it all, to help you understand your furry friend’s behaviour better.

Can Cats See Colour?

Contrary to popular belief, cats have colour vision. Their sight resembles a colour-blind human, meaning not all colours are clear. People are Trichromatic, meaning they can see three primary colours. In comparison, cats are thought to be dichromatic and see only two. They see shades of blue but find reds challenging.

The photoreceptors cells or cones that cats are missing are the ones that process greens to reds. This particular cone also measures long distances.

Do Cats See Clearly?

Cats are nearsighted. People see objects clearly at a distance, five times further than your roaming predator. In contrast, felines spot their prey up close and personal before stalking.

Cats detect items clearly up to approximately 6 metres (20 feet). Beyond this distance, things will get a bit blurry.

Cats Have a Good Visual Field

Your sharp-sighted mouser might not be excellent at spotting things at a distance. However, as a predator, they have incredible frontal vision. They have a wider field of sight and can see 200° compared to the average human, which is 180°.

Like most predators, excellent frontal vision comes at the cost of a large blind spot behind them. Compare this to a horse, a prey animal with eyes on the side of its head, providing little frontal vision but instead a panoramic view to the sides and rear. However, this is not an obstacle for your little tiger.

Cats Have Great Eyesight in the Dark

Another rumour is that cats are night owls and it is correct. Cats see remarkably well in the dark. In fact, cats can observe things in light six times dimmer than a human.

A sly predator takes advantage of the fading daylight and the drawing darkness. Cats are crepuscular as opposed to nocturnal. They hunt in the twilight hours when there is enough light to see.

There are three reasons why cats can see so well in the dark:

1.         Cats have big eyes. They have corneas and pupils 50% larger in diameter than humans. It enables much more light to reach the retina.

2.         Cats also have a reflective tissue, the tapetum, behind the retina. It works similarly to a mirror and reflects light increasing the illumination. An accidental encounter with glowing cats’ eyes inspired Percy Shaw to invent the cats’ eyes in the centre of the road.

3.         There are lots of tiny rods within a cat’s eyes, five times more than in a human’s eye. The rods are sensitive to light and distribute the brightness back to the photoreceptors creating highly effective night vision. 

A Safer Pet GPS cat tracker will not only prevent you from losing your cat, but it will also help you keep up to date with his wanderings at night.

Do Cats Recognise Their Owner’s Face?

Humans often think cats are aloof and disinterested in people. Cats can form similar bonds with their owners in the same way dogs do. Cats recognise owners not by looks but by using their other senses, particularly hearing and smell.

People have a unique odour individual to them. Over time through this smell, a cat recognises which person is its owner.

Your affectionate feline will also recognise the sound of your voice. After all, a kitten recognises the familiar sound of its mum’s meow and responds.

Cats often see their humans as big cats and treat us the same way they do other felines. This includes licking, a process of forming a bond, similarly to how they would lick their mother.

Your cat might look at you as big and clumsy as you trip over him. Something your agile friend is not likely to do in return.