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11 Cool Facts About Cat's Eyes

Cat’s eyes don’t need an introduction. They're one of their most distinctive features, they’re intense and come in a variety of colours. It highlights their beauty and their glance simply grips your attention.

Researching deeper into this, past their sheer beauty really blew my mind about how incredible they are. We’re going to have quick fire rounds of amazing facts regarding cat’s eyes.

Cats have good night vision but cannot see in complete darkness.

Cat’s eyes are very similar to our own. They can see because light enters the eye and is received by the photoreceptors in their retina. The photoreceptors are made up of cones and rods which are then sent to the brain by their optic nerve which allows them to understand what they are seeing.

Cats are crepuscular, it means that they are most active at dawn and dusk – this explains their 4am raves they have in your bedroom. Because being crepuscular is their natural activity, they have six to eight times more rod cells than we do, therefore they are more sensitive to light and this helps them see better in the dark. i.e. they can see in rooms up to eight times darker than we can.

What also helps this is the tapetum lucidum. It is a special reflective layer that covers their retina. It will reflect the smallest bit of light causing a magnifying effect and further enhancing their abilities to see in the dark.

Think of the room with a window that allows light to enter only a little bit in the corner of the room. The room will be pretty dark. However, if you then add a couple of mirrors to reflect the light into other areas of the room it will clearly make the room brighter and easier to see – this is all going on inside their eye. This also means that in a room with complete darkness your cat will be unable to see.

inventor cat light trick


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Cats don’t see in black and white; they see in colour.

It is a common misconception that cats see in black and white. Cats actually have cones which pick up colour and are thought to be trichromats, meaning they have three kinds of cones that allows them to see shades of blue and yellow but struggle to see reds and pink. These two will appear more green, while purple will look like another shade of blue.

inventor cat how cats see the world

Cat’s eyes are amazing at detecting movement.

We all know that cats are amazing hunters, you should see the leaps that my cat does on his favourite toy. This is because their eyes are much more sensitive to movement than our own.

They are capable of detecting objects that move at speeds of up to four millimetres per second, helping them locate those twinkling toes under the covers or making it easy to catch the fly in the room.

Cats are mid-sighted, not short nor long.

Cats have small ciliary muscles that contract or relax to change the shape of their lens which allows them to focus in on objects which are further or closer to them. It seems that their capability to do this is rather limited, meaning that they are able to see things clearly when it is 20 feet away from them. Comparing it to humans, we could be standing at 100 feet away and see the same thing with the same clarity.

Cats have a small range of sharp middle vision.

This means that they rely on their ability to detect movement through their whiskers and other senses to make clearer the blurry image that's close to them.

inventor cat how cats see the world

Cats have great peripheral vision.

Evolving as a hunter and the hunted, cats needed to have great peripheral vision to both detect prey and more importantly, detect incoming threats. Their field of view is of 200 degrees.

What is amazing is that their vertical pupil slits actually gives them an expanded panoramic field of view, even when their head is down while eating. This allows them to detect predators when they’re on the ground and to top it off, they will be able to quickly see where they need to run and jump up to get away.

Vertical pupils, the v is for velocity.

The very distinctive vertical pupils that cats have are able to burst open or close much quicker than our circle pupils. This results in them not get blinded by sudden changes of light. This is another perk they get as a hunter.

Think of when you play with your cat, before they are ready to pounce on an unsuspecting toy, they’ll probably hide in one of their favourite spots. In the wild this favourite spot will probably be in the bushes, hidden away from the day light. So when they come out to pounce they need their pupils to shrink as quick as their pounce to make sure that they don't miss their prey.

inventor cat cats eyes beautiful close up

Cats can see in different wavelengths.

This ability is thanks to the tapetum, that mirror-like cells that cover the retina. They cause the eerie glowing-eye photos you can see when you use the flash.

Incredibly the tapetum shifts the wavelength of light that cats can see making their prey or other objects silhouetted against a night sky more prominent – how cool is that!

This essentially lets them see in ultraviolet.

inventor cat cats see in ultraviolet

Blue eyes could indicate deafness.

This is true with white cats that have blue eyes. This is because the gene responsible is an autosomal dominant gene termed W (for White). This gene appears to be pleiotropic – ie, it has more than one effect, the effects being responsible for the white coat colour and also blue eyes and deafness.

It will always be the case that this W gene will cause cats to have a white coat but the blue eyes and deafness do not always occur. However deafness is strongly linked with the white fur and blue eyes.

All Kittens have blue eyes.

You will not be able to see the true colour of a cat’s eyes until they are 12 weeks old. This is when the melanin in their body starts to activate, before this occurs all kitten’s eyes are blue.

If the melanin is what gives colour to the iris, then why are they blue?

Well in fact because no melanin is present the kitten’s iris are actually clear, however we see them blue because of the light that is refracting around the iris... is your mind blown?

inventor cat cute kittens blue eyes

Cats have a third eye… lid.

All cats have a third eyelid. This is located between the cornea and the regular eyelids and its purpose is to provide extra protection for cat's eyes. At the base of the third eyelid, there is a gland that produces tears.

Their mood lies in the eye.

A cat's mod can be detected a lot through their body language. The eyes are on of these transmitters. Pupil size changes are the clue: an angry cat will have narrowed eyes along with other cues, while an excited or frightened cat will have eyes wide open, with large pupils.

If you notice that their pupils are different sizes then this is a serious medical condition and you should call a vet immediately.



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