Are Cats Colorblind?

Do you ever see a rainbow and cherish all the beautiful colors you can see? Red, green, blue, yellow, and so much more. Millions of color combinations. But as curious as we are, many of us can’t help but wonder whether our cat sees the same colors. Some would be fine to put aside the discussion by assuming everyone sees the same thing.

Are Cats Colorblind

But the world isn’t the same for everyone. And as has been seen over the years, different creatures see different colors which can be starkly different from each other. Even some humans see colors differently than other humans. But can you tell me what color you see?

How can we know that the colors we see are different from each other? Yes, we can when the colors are significantly different and just a shade or two different. But what colors do cats see? To answer that, we need to know how animals see colors?

How do you see colors?

The nerve cells in the eye identify the colors and distinguish them from each other. The retina of the eyes has two primary kinds of cells, namely rods and cones. Cone cells or cones are responsible for identifying color and are also called color-sensitive cells. Humans have three types of cones that can distinguish red, green, blue, and different combinations of them.

Felines have two types of cones. So do the two see the same thing? No. Because humans have ten times more cones than cats. For a ratio, that is a lot. Humans appreciate more vivid colors. As scientific observations conclude, cats have a significantly lesser range of colors in their vision. 

Some scientists do believe that cats can only see combinations of blue and grey. Others say that they can also see the yellow color like other canines. That’s a thing for discussion which takes us to our next question.

Can cats see color?

Early perceptions about cats and dogs were that they only saw the world in black, white, or greyscale. But scientists have proven this to be a myth through extensive research since cats and dogs have photoreceptors called cones in their eyes.

Are Cats Colorblind

This means their eyes are sensitive to color vision, and they can see a useful range of color vision, although altered in front of humans. We can have a rough idea of the color vision of each animal based on its amount of cones. 

There have been multiple tests on studying the cat’s color vision. One is the regular green, blue test by using LED laser pointers. As found in the analysis, cats had a 505 nanometers gap in their color vision. This result points to red-green colorblindness in cats.

Are blue-eyed cats colorblind?

Blue-eyed cats are a joy to watch. If you own a blue-eyed cat, you would be habitual of garnering compliments for your cat from whoever enters your house. Researchers have found that blue-eyed cats are prone to be born with diseases, though. If your kitten has retained blue eye color as she grew up and is white, she may become deaf as she grows up.

Are blue-eyed cats colorblind

But although she has a bleak chance to be deaf, there is no evidence to suggest she is color blind. The blue color of her eyes doesn’t indicate the absence of cones so that it won’t make her colorblind.

How cats see the world compared to humans?

Since cats have a lower number of cones than humans, they can see fewer colors than humans. A cat’s vision is somehow similar to that of a colorblind human. As found is research, they can clearly see green and blue, but reds and pinks are challenging to identify. Some colors appear washout, and others may seem blurred.

The standard of vision is 20/20 for humans, while that for cats is a very deficient 20/100. It’s the same as those having colorblindness. Perhaps your cat’s inability to see the entire spectrum and limitations in their color vision means they can’t see accurate versions of many colors. But this doesn’t mean that they see different colors.

They will just not be able to perceive the vibrance and richness in colors that we see. There are also other differences between a cat’s vision and human vision. Felines are more near-sighted and have a less acute idea than humans. When you and your cat look at a faraway object, it may seem clear to you and blurred to your pet. Cats can only see clearly when they are less than 20 feet away from the object.

But cats do have some advantages in their vision over humans. Since their eyes are set on extreme sides of the face, they have a greater peripheral vision that helps them locate their prey well. Cats can also capture a lot of light because of their ellipticals that can dilate to the max.

Your cat, just like other cats, also has shiny eyes. This is because of the reflective cells under the retina, which are called the tapetum. It also improves their ability to see in the dark. Additionally, cats have more rod cells than humans. Rod cells help detect motion and capture light. So cats can detect motions and see in the dark better than humans.

What is color blindness?

Color vision deficiency or more commonly known as color blindness is someone’s inability to differentiate between certain colors. Mostly, color blindness makes it difficult to distinguish red from green. This type of deficiency is called red-green color blindness. There is also a second type of color blindness where people can’t distinguish between blue and yellow.

You will also find a rare type of color blindness in some living beings called monochromatism. As the name suggests, people can only see black and white in such a condition. Color blindness is usually inherited in humans while cats are naturally colorblind because of the low amount of cones or photoreceptors.

Cat’s cones are most sensitive to yellow and blue colors. Most cats can’t see shades of red, orange and brown. Their color blindness is similar to red-green color blindness in humans as they can’t distinguish red from green.

Why do cats see what they see?

Cat’s vision is good enough to support their lifestyle in the wild and help them thrive in the dark, bushy climes. The ability to see in the dusk and dim light along with the ability to detect motions from large distances helps their hunting abilities. They are also able to detect a hunter around and run away before he pounces on them

Can cats see color

Having an idea about your cat’s vision will help you take better care of her. Choose toys, pillows and other stuff for her wisely. She will enjoy yellow and blue more than red and green. This is because the former colors look clear and vibrant while the latter might be blurred.

You would also know how your cat gets alert when seeing a bird fly 50m away. The cat also gives the most attention when someone stands directly in front of her face.

How can I stimulate my cat’s vision?

Your cat’s vision is that of a natural predator. But over the years of remaining in your house as a pet, she hasn’t been able to hone her abilities. You can stimulate her vision to bring back the sharpness in her vision. Here are some tips to invigorate her senses:

  • Stop feeding her food in a bowl at the same place every day. If your cat has grown, you should keep it in different places and challenge her to find it. Don’t keep it in unreasonable places but rather in reachable places just different from her usual dining place. Indoor hunting will encourage her to get back her hunting skills from the wild.
  • Play with her with laser light and point it to different places quickly. This will activate her rods and she will follow the light movements quickly.
  • Show your cat videos of visual stimulation. It can be fluttering of wings, fishes swimming and mice scurrying.
  • Give her some fresh catnip either rubbed in a toy or directly. Sniffing catnip oil can energize her and make her feel ecstatic.

Can cats see in total darkness?

No, cats can’t see in total darkness. It’s against the laws of vision as eyes require light to reflect from some source to process an image. She would require an infrared vision to see in total darkness. But cats cat see much better than other living beings in semi-darkness or extremely dim conditions.

Cats only need about one-sixth of light that we require and can see clearly in extremely low light. But in rare cases where there is no ambient light, they can not see a thing. Cats’ eyes are intelligently designed to have a brilliant night vision.

They have a curved cornea and large lenses. Their pupils can dilate to full circles which allows their eyes to let in the maximum amount of light. As cats have more rods, they can see better in the dark but worse in daylight than humans. Tapetum also helps this function.

Apart from making the eyes shiny, the tapetum reflects light back to the retina. The reflective tissue reflects the light back to the sensory cells sending more than 50% light to the retina. The cat’s pupils expand naturally in the night while their vertical slits let them focus on a particular area. This allows them to watch clearly in the dark.

Are cats attracted to certain colors?

Cats can only see certain colors and can not distinguish others. Some colors look vivid and vibrant to them while others appear dull. But they do like certain colors. Colors that can calm your car are the pastel blue, pastel green, and some other pastel colors.

But mostly, cats are more attracted to motion and not any particular color. Many colors look plain grey to the cats, which is perhaps dull and boring. They like moving objects and love to follow moving colors, whatever hue it might be.

What colors can cats see?

As cats’ vision is similar to colorblind humans, they can properly see shades of blue, green and their combinations. But your cat might be confused between red and pink. They may seem to be blurred, dull or unidentifiable to your cat. Mostly red and pink look green. Purple probably looks like a shade of blue to your feline. They can see black, white and grey easily though.

Every creature has a certain ability that is suited to where they first came from. A cat’s eyes can’t detect some colors like red but you would hardly see red-colored animals in the wild. Instead, their eyes can detect motions quickly and from far away. 


1 thought on “Are Cats Colorblind?”

Leave a Comment