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Can Cats See in the Dark? (Can They See Color, Black and White?)

Can Cats See in the Dark?

If you’ve ever stumbled your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you may be wondering if you’d have better luck as a cat. Can cats see in the dark?

Can Cats See in the Dark?

Cats will have as much trouble as humans when in a room or area that is pitch black. Cats can’t see in pitch dark either. But as it turns out, cats need a smaller amount of light than humans in order to make their way through the dark.

They also have a a wider field of view and increase peripheral vision. Even with a little light, cats can’t make out color or the gritty details of what they’re seeing. But they can see enough in semi-darkness not to stub their toe on that kitchen chair like you do most nights.

The reason cats can see better than humans in the dark is because of the way their eyes are made. Cats have large eyes in comparison to the size of their head. The iris of a cat’s eye can open wide to let light in. Humans have only four retina rods that are sensitive to light whereas cats have twenty-five. The tapetum lucidum is a reflective layer at the back of cats’ eyes. Raccoon, deer, and many other animals have this reflective area which is why their eyes appear luminescent when headlights shine on them.

Can Cats See Color?

It was once believed that cats and other animals could only see in shades of black and white or gray. But modern science has determined that cats can see some colors. Cats lose their vision advantage over humans when it comes to colors and distances.

Cats have more trouble seeing things farther away in the dark in great detail but are better than people at seeing fast moving things such as a mole or mouse than slow moving things such as a turtle. Objects humans can visualize at 100 or 200 feet would have to be only 20 feet away for most cats to see them. This ability to see things close to them gives cats a great advantage when hunting small prey at night.

What Colors Can Cats See?

Cats see color but not in the same wide variety of colors that humans can see. This is because people have a higher percentage of cone receptors in the eye than cats. We can see more colors but can’t see as well at night.

Some testing has been done on cats indicating they see only in blue and gray hues. But this is somewhat controversial as other experts believe that cats be trichromatic like humans but with a color spectrum more similar to that of dogs. Dogs cannot discern the difference between yellow, green, orange, and red.

Cats do seem to be able to see the difference between yellow, red, and blue lights or between green and red lights. But they seem better at discerning colors like blues and purples rather than reds and oranges.