How Many Colors Can Cats See?

For a long time, we thought that the world was only black and white for dogs and cats. But do cats see colors? Today we know: Yes! In the following, you will get to know the world better from the point of view of our cats.

Are Cats Color Blind Like Dogs?

Wouldn’t it be exciting to look through our cat’s eyes? It would definitely be colorful! Although our animal companions do not recognize all colors, their worldview is anything but monotonous!

The cat’s eye: cones for colors

In cats – as in all other mammals – cones are the receptors on the retina that are responsible for color vision. In addition to the many types of cones, there are rods that enable the light-dark view.

Humans see colors better than cats

If we compare the eyes of our feline friends with ours, we have much better conditions for the perception of colors: In humans, the ratio of rods to cones is 20 to 1. In the eyes of our cats, there are around 63 rods for light-dark- Contrasts on a “color cone”. That means: The cat perceives colors much less than we do.

Why can’t the fur noses see red tones?

Not all cones are the same: While we humans have three different cones for red, blue, and yellow, cats only have cones for blue and yellow. That is why it is not able to recognize red – and the resulting color tones such as pink or orange.

Little Light – Best View: How Do Cats See in Complete Darkness?

“All cats are gray at night” – this saying makes it clear that our little predator friends would have little use from multi-faceted color perception. Because in nature they are mainly on the move when colors lose their meaning: in the dark.

Cat retina

You owe it to the Tapetum Lucidum. This is the reflective layer behind the retina. We all know the effect that our eyes only perceive black and white images from a certain degree of twilight. And this is exactly what cats specialize in! The fact that cats see colors less clearly and sharply than we do is not a problem for crepuscular hunters: Instead, their eyes offer them numerous advantages for optimal vision when it is dawn.

This includes not only the many chopsticks but also a special property of the cat’s eye that enables it to make optimal use of incident light.

What Do Cats See That We Don’t See?

If you look at a rainbow, you will see colors from red to purple. This corresponds to the human visual spectrum, i.e. the light waves that our eyes can perceive.

Do cats see UV light?

Beyond this are ultraviolet rays, which we colloquially call “UV light”. Many now think of “black light” in discos, which does not allow us to really see UV light. It can be made visible with fluorescent substances, but we do not see the UV light itself because our eye lens filters out these light waves. We only see their reflection. For several years we have known that cats – like many species of birds and dogs – are able to detect UV light.

In contrast to UV specialists such as parrots, cats have no receptors, i.e. no cones of their own for ultraviolet light. However, it can pass through your lens, so that the existing ink cones can provide UV impressions. Some people experience this view when they describe their impressions of UV light: Patients who have lost their eye lenses due to illnesses describe ultraviolet light as “milky blue-violet”.

What are the benefits of UV vision for cats?

It is possible that they will benefit from better perceiving urine traces of possible prey or territorial competitors. This is not guaranteed. And so our fur noses remain a small, lovable mystery for us once again.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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