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Can Cats See in the Dark- Do Cats Have Night Vision?



Hello, cat lovers!



Have you ever asked yourself, “Do cats see in the dark?” Cats seem to be addicted to hunting and running around at night. Most cat owners are used to waking up in the middle of the night because of their cat’s hyperactive running activities that take place in the middle of the night.

So, is that a yes to the “Can cats see in the dark?” question?

No, cats are more active at night because they are crepuscular beings. This means that they are more active during twilight. Cats can not see in complete darkness; however, they only require 1/6th the amount of light that we humans need to see.

This means that cats can see in the dark better than us when there is a dim light; however, they can see anything if they are in complete darkness. To learn more about the wonderful eyes of your cat, make sure that you continue reading this blog post.



Can cats see in the dark?

If you want the short answer, then cats can’t really see in the dark. Although people have always thought that cats are born some sort of night vision goggles, it turns out that cats actually need a little bit of light to be able to navigate in the dark.

However, they need less light than us humans to see in the dark, one-sixth the amount of light that we need to be exact.

So, if your cat is in a fully dark room, which is rare because there is almost always a little bit of light coming in through the window and other sources, then your cat won’t be able to see.

But, it is true that a cat’s sight is a lot more advanced than ours, which allows these crepuscular creatures to have their nighttime adventures safely.

Can Cats See in the Dark- Do Cats Have Night Vision?

But, why can cats see better than us in semi-dark rooms?

That is a great question! You see, cats are capable of seeing the world around them properly in low light thanks to the unique design of their eyes. Here is what Dr. Hazel C. Carney of WestVet Emergency and Specialty Center in Garden City, Idaho had to say:

“The tapetum increases available light to the cat. This is an extra layer of reflective cells in the retina that bounces light back to sensory cells, so the retina receives 50 percent more of the available light.”

The tapetum that Dr. Carney is talking about is the reason why your precious cat’s eyes look green when you take a picture of them using flash.

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To understand how cats see in the dark, we first have to know a few eye-related terms.

How do cats see in the dark?

The eye-related terms that we are going to define an explain today are the following:

  1. Visual Acuity
  2. Visual Field
  3. Color Vision
  4. Night Vision

Let us begin explaining these terms and how night vision plays a role in allowing cats to see in semi-darkness.

What is visual acuity?

The term visual acuity is used to refer to the clearness of the vision. For example, the average person has a visual acuity of twenty out of twenty (20/20). On the other hand, cats tend to have a visual acuity of twenty out of 100 or even a twenty out of two hundred (20/100 and 20/200).

But what do these numbers mean? This means that a cat must be twenty feet away from something that the average human being can see from one hundred or two hundred feet away.

What is the visual field?

The term visual field is used to refer to the total area that can be seen when the eyes are focused on just one point. This means that the visual field includes what someone can see straight ahead, on both sides, up above, and down below when they are focusing on just a single point.

Cats are more superior to humans when it comes to the visual field.

Can Cats See in the Dark- Do Cats Have Night Vision? Cat eyes

Why?

Well, cats have a wider visual field than us humans. Our visual field is one hundred and eighty degrees ( 180 degrees), while a cat’s visual field in two hundred degrees (200 degrees).

What is color vision?

Color vision precisely means what you think it does, and that is seeing colors. Did someone tell you that cats are only capable of seeing many shades of gray ( Not Fifty Shades of Gray)? Well, that is a common misconception.

In fact, both humans and cats are considered to be trichromats, but cats are just a different kind of trichromats.

Wait, what does the term trichromat mean?

A creature who is a trichromat means that they have different types of cones that allow them to see the following colors:

  1. Blue
  2. Red
  3. Green

Cats are a different kind of trichromats. Their vision is similar to that of a color-blind human. This means that cats are capable of seeing different shades of green and blue, but pinks and reds are confusing to differentiate between.

The red and pink colors will look a bit more greenish, and purple will appear to be bluish.

Another vast difference between our color vision and a cat’s color vision is that cats are not capable of experiencing the color’s saturation and hues like us!

What is night vision?

What cats lack in color vision, they compensate in night vision. Their eyes’ retinas have a very high number of rods, allowing them to have much superior night vision in semi-dark places that us humans.

These rods are sensitive to dim light, allowing them to see in semi-darkness with only 1/6th the amount of light that we humans need.

Can Cats See in the Dark- Human night vision vs Cat night vision

Behind the retina, cats have a structure that is called the tapetum. It believed that the tapetum improves night vision. Humans do not have this structure in their eyes.

The cells in the tapetum act like mirrors. This means that the tapetum reflects the light that passes between the rods and the cones, and back to the photoreceptors. This allows cats to pick up and use any small amount of light at night, and it is also what makes cats’ eyes glow green in the dark!

Other questions related to can cats see in the dark?

Can cats see in total darkness?

No, cats are actually incapable of seeing in complete darkness. However, cats are capable of seeing way better than us if it is semidark. Actually, they can see much better than a lot of other animals as well when it is semidark. Cats can see in semi-darkness thanks to the unique structure of their eyes. 

Can I leave my cat in the dark?

If you are asking whether you should keep the lights on for your cat when you are going out, the answer is no. Leaving the curtains should be enough, or just having one small light bulb on should suffice because although cats need so light to see, they only require 1/6th of the light that we need to see.

Should I leave the TV on for my cat?

If you always have your TV on when you are home, then you should leave it while you are away to keep your cat calm because that mimics the same atmosphere that exists when you are home. 

Can cats see color?

Yes, cats are capable of seeing colors. However, the hues they see are not as vibrant as the ones that humans are capable of seeing.Dr. Carney from WestVet Emergency and Specialty Center said the following:

“They have a limited ability to separate colors. They see blue and yellow best; red and green fade into grays.”

That’s it for today’s post. You should now be aware of how well can cats see in the dark. To sum it up, you should know that cats can not see in complete darkness; however, they only require one-sixth (1/6th) the amount of light that we humans need to see.

Cats are more active at night simply because they are crepuscular beings. This means that they are more active during twilight.

My Sources

Till next time,

Ayah