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Can Cats See In Color Or Do They Lack This Ability?

Can Cats See In Color Or Do They Lack This Ability?

It’s well known that felines have an exceptional sense of smell and hearing. This makes them excellent hunters and capable of quickly detecting many things surrounding them.

Of course, good eyesight is equally essential for all living beings. Some might argue that vision is even more crucial than any other sense.

Have you ever thought about how good your feline friend’s eyesight actually is? Or, can cats see in color?

Let’s delve deeper into the sense of sight in our beloved pets and explore whether they are color-blind or not.

Can Cats See In Color?

black and white cat

This is a rather interesting topic that has been analyzed for many years. 

Although there are still some uncertainties about the cat’s vision, one thing is sure: Cats can see in color!

However, they can’t see as many colors as humans can. Daria and Robert Clark [1] explain how most studies demonstrate two photopic receptors in the cat’s retina: Cone cells and rod cells.

Cats have far more rod cells than cone cells in their eyes. While rod cells help cats see in low-light conditions, cone cells assist them in detecting color.

There is a suggestion that felines have another, third photopic receptor that could potentially allow trichromatic vision. However, these claims aren’t confirmed, and it’s still widely believed that cats have two photopic receptors in total.

While cats can see in color, their abilities in this area are far more limited compared to humans.

What Colors Can Cats See?

blue eyed cat

Many of us may not realize the extent of the colors we can actually perceive.

Although it’s not possible to precisely determine the exact number, it’s believed that humans are able to see about one million different hues!

This is really amazing, right? Well, yes, for us, but, our feline friends aren’t as lucky.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, some scientists believe that cats only see gray and blue. Others think cats are also able to recognize the yellow color. 

Most likely, your cat will perceive all the other colors like some shade of these previously mentioned ones. Cats cannot see brown, orange, and red hues.

Does A Cat’s Limited Ability To Recognize Colors Affect Their Behavior?

cat laying down

No, not really. This can sound pretty limiting to us, since we are used to seeing such a colorful world.

On the other hand, felines are used to seeing the world in their own way from when they are born. It’s not like they used to see all the colors, and now, all of a sudden, they can only recognize grey, blue, or yellow.

Simply, this is a normal thing among them, and they rely on other senses to perceive their surroundings.

Colors aren’t the most important thing for cats, so not being able to recognize all of them doesn’t affect a cat’s behavior severely.

Seeing in the dark and being able to spot movement is far more essential for cats, especially in the wild.

Does A Cat’s Eye Color Play A Role In Their Ability To Recognize Colors?

cute gray cat

All kittens are born with their eyes closed. Another common thing to all of them is that they are all born with blue eyes.

This changes around six weeks old, when they start producing melanin. This is the period when many kittens will develop different eye colors.

According to the cat eyes color chart, felines can have the following eye colors:

• Green

• Blue 

• Yellow

• Hazel

• Copper

• Orange

• Amber

• Brown

• Dichroic (two different colors in both eyes)

• Odd-colored (every eye’s iris has a different color: One eye is blue, while the other can be green, hazel, orange, or yellow)

The color of a cat’s eyes doesn’t change its ability to see colors. So, cats with blue eyes or with copper ones, will have the same possibilities when it comes to color recognition.

Do Cats Have Bad Eyesight?

orange cat in the dark

I believe some of you will jump to the conclusion that cats have overall bad eyesight since they are unable to see all colors we can.

While we primarily rely on our vision, felines use their ears and noses more. But, this doesn’t mean that they have poor eyesight.

Animal Eye Associates points out that cats have 20 degrees more peripheral vision in comparison to humans.

This means they’re capable of identifying things by motion. This ability to spot movement is essential for cats to navigate their surroundings.

Another interesting thing about a cat’s vision is that they have excellent night vision, far better than ours. Their eyes are designed in a way their pupils can dilate to full circles, making it possible for maximum light to come in.

Thanks to this amazing night vision, cats are excellent hunters, especially during dusk and dawn. 

There are also some drawbacks to a cat’s vision. 

Felines are nearsighted, which is great for them to hunt their prey. But, they can’t see things as well as us from a larger distance. In these situations, worlds seem blurry to our feline friends.

Conclusion

Can cats see in color?

Yes, they do. Cats aren’t color-blind. But, there are some limitations to their ability to see colors. Cats cannot see all the colors and hues humans can.

There are still some disagreements in this area, but, most likely, cats are able to see gray, blue, and yellow hues. Red, orange, and brown colors aren’t a part of their visual spectrum.

Although the limitation in color recognition might seem significant to us, cats do not place much importance on colors.

They rely more on their hearing and sense of smell. Also, they have great night vision, and the ability to see objects up close. This makes them capable of hunting and surviving on their own, even without being able to see some colors we can.

Finally, it can be concluded that a cat’s eyesight cannot be described as poor. Despite their inability to see certain hues, felines still have a keen perception of the world that surrounds them.

References:

[1]Clark, DL, Clark, RA. Neutral point testing of color vision in the domestic cat, Experimental Eye Research, Volume 153, 2016, Pages 23-26, DOI, Retrieved October 18, 2023.

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