What cats can actually see and what they cannot see might be something you’ve wondered about at some point in time. You’ve probably also heard of it here and there, but to really understand it can be very helpful, especially for those cat owners who like to invest in toys and time to entertain their beloved pet cats.
A cat’s vision is quite similar to the human vision for those who are color blind. They can perceive blue and green in some shades but colors like red or pink might be difficult to separate. Also, regardless of the darkness or the light, they can not perceive the intensity or hues for most colors.
To fully grasp how your cat sees, the anatomy of its eye comes into play. A visual image starts with light rays going into the transparent cornea at the front of the eye. These then move through the gelatinous liquid that fills up the eyeball until reaching the retina lining in the back of the eye.
Inside the retina are the rods and cones, serving as light receptors which are stimulated by light rays and send an impulse to the brain that is transformed as a visual image. Now, the cat’s brain sees what it is looking at. Rods and cones accept different types of vision; rods, being exceptionally sensitive to light, allow for vision in low-light levels, whilst cones are more sensitive to color and detail as in that they produce sharp images involving lively colors in different hues. This might sound all a bit too technical but keep reading below for more important facts to know.
How Do Cat’s Eyes Differ From Yours?
It is no surprise that some cats and other predators are built to hunt in order to survive. During the early morning and evening, when light levels are low, you can find cats being more active. It is much more useful for them to be able to see in the dark than to see vibrant colors, this translates to the retina of the cat’s eye having more rods than cones. It has been discovered that cats’ eyes have eight times more rods than your eyes. This explains why it is difficult for some people to see well while driving at night and why a cat can see a small prey across its whereabouts during the darker hours.
Parting from this information, we might have assumed that, in contrast, humans have much more cones; 10 times as many as our feline comrades. We can see vibrant colors and figures with sharper detail, but not see greatly at night time.
Cats possess a wider vision range than humans. That does not mean that they have the same keenness as humans. Cats can only see clearly for about 20 feet, while humans have the ability to see sharp, detailed items 100-200 feet away. Cats appear to be nearsighted; they do not see far objects as distinctly. More importantly for cats, though, is the ability to see the slightest movement of prey in the dark.
Excellent night vision is a quality that cats own without a doubt. They have a tapetum, which is an iridescent membrane in their eyes. Mainly, this works like a mirror, reflecting tiny amounts of light back to the rest of their eyes allowing them to see in 20 percent of the light you can. This is also what makes their eyes look creepy in photos because they reflect light from the camera’s flash. Perfectly placed for their needs, advanced night vision allows for hunting dominance.
What Colors Do Cats See Best?
Cats do not only see in black and white. The smaller amount of cones in cat’s eyes are most responsive to frequencies of light in the blue-violet and the yellow-green range with changing shades of grey, meaning that they can see blue, yellow, and green pretty well. Cats can see these colors during the daylight as they are produced through their eyes, however, the colors are not as lively as those the human eye sees.
Colors like red, orange or brown, are not seen by cats. These red hues usually appear as the color green to your cat. Bottom line, if your cat chooses its red toy over its green one, it is most likely due to the shape, unless she prefers the color gray. Even though cats can see colors to some degree, they aren’t captivated by them. They use color to help them spot minimal motions.
What Colors Are Calming To Cats?
Colors that can indeed help reduce stress in your cat are blue and violet. These serve as calming shades to cats as it has been determined by the way cats react to them. It is suggested that when looking to calm a cat using an Easter color palette is ideal; think pastel greens and light purple.
It is difficult to pinpoint what can really be their favorite color, after all, they are somewhat colorblind. Blue is the color that they perceive most clearly, therefore is safe to assume that most felines like this color the best. A mild green color can be related to playing in a garden; this can be a relaxing, happy color for your cat too.
Based on the chakra system, there are ways to choose a color for your pets; cats in this case. Sometimes the animal will lead us depending on which toy they want to play with most, which blanket they want to lie on, or what is their favorite room to be in. You can experiment with these by changing them and see how your cat reacts to the different colors; they may in fact avoid one and be more inclined to another.
What Different Hues Can Do
Blue and colors in the bluish spectrum regulate the parasympathetic nervous system, having a soothing effect, aiding digestion, and encouraging sleep.
Red and colors of this spectrum, such as magenta, red, orange, yellow, etc. regulate the sympathetic nervous system, having a stimulating effect. Red invokes anger and stops digestion.
Soft blues and greens can have a pacifying or harmonizing effect, whereas, orange can stimulate inspiration and productivity. Red may increase physical liveliness and stamina but should be used moderately because it can also bring about anxiety and anger. Yellow can have a fun, elevating influence.
By being aware of what colors you expose your pets to, you can affect their energy levels in a constructive way. For instance, if you have an energetic kitten, you may want to reconsider before painting your dining room in red.
More than concentrating on what colors they may like or not like, keep in mind that a cat’s visual strengths lie in recognizing the slightest of movements. Ensure their toys are not static but rather wobbly and shaky to keep them entertained at best.
You may want to test if your cat is more lured by blue and green colors and take it from there to please your feline pet. Your cat may even be attracted to the color pink even if they cannot see it; who knows? Playing and trying different shapes, colors and movements will be a fun activity for both of you.
What Colors Do Cats Hate?
By exposing your cat to the different types of color, you can more or less understand which colors they don’t react very well to, however, there is no proof that felines hate any color specifically.
This can easily be attached to the fact that there is a limited quantity of colors they can see. Since their world is mostly comprised of blue, yellow, green, and gray, there aren’t any colors in there that belong in the distress list. The color white, however, can be irritating to some cats.
In general, a cat’s vision falls under the ultraviolet end of the spectrum. Due to their astonishing night vision, more light reaches their retina than it does with our own human eyes. In return, they see white as if they were under a black light that glows for them.
How Can I Stimulate My Cat’s Vision?
If you want to dig deeper into stimulating activities to keep your cat’s senses energized all the time, here are a few ideas you can try to make the utmost hunter out of them:
- Use a laser pointer light across the floors, walls, and ceilings throughout your house. Moving the pointer quickly will stimulate your cat’s rod senses and their playful nature will arise as they chase the light.
- Instead of just putting a bowl of food in front of them, you can opt for hiding your cat’s meal in different spots around your house for them to find. There are also indoor hunting feeders and puzzle toys you can buy for your cat to solve to get their next meal.
- Leaving your cat at home while you go to work? Why not play videos of birds fluttering around, bright-colored fish swimming in a tank, or mice scampering around. This will develop their visual and auditory senses.
- Feed them fresh catnip. With the smell of the oils exuded by the plant, they will experience heightened activity levels and blissful enjoyment.
Now that we have covered what colors cats can see and what they cannot, you can discover which toys and colors are more appealing for your very own special cat. However, always strive to put the movement before color, as your cat will appreciate a wiggling toy much more than a stable blue toy.
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Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.