What Colors Do Cats See?

A common misconception prevails that cats perceive the world through black and white shades and like their canine counterparts, they cannot see color. However, this is not correct as even cats can see a whole lot of colors just like the humans. The only difference is unlike humans; they can only see some colors better than the others. The felines are also trichromats like the people, which mean that they possess cones that permit them to see the hues blue, red and green but not with the same intensity like humans do.

Cats first open their eyes in around 10 days from the birth and master the stinkeye at around four weeks.

They can differentiate between the blue, red and yellow lights and between green and red lights. They perceive the colors purple and blue better than the colors near the spectrum end. They respond very well to the hues of blue, green, purple and yellowish range. The colors red, brown and orange colors fall out of the color spectrum of cats.

An Insight Into The Eye Structure To Understand What Colors Do Cats See

Cat, Animal, Cat Portrait, Cat'S Eyes, Tiger Cat

The nerve cells present in the retina of the eye are responsible for perceiving color. Rods and cones are the two types of photoreceptor cells that are found in the retina. Colors can be differentiated depending on the presence of “cones” that are color sensitive particular nerve cells.

Three kinds of cones are present in both feline and human eyes that help in the identification of the various combinations of the hues of blue, red and green. But, the concentration of the cones is much higher in the human eye than that of cats. Ten times greater number of cones exists in the human eye. As a result, the people get to see wider variations of colors than these felines. This explains what colors do cats see.Fact

Like cones, even the rods are specialized cells that are responsible for detecting the motion and light levels. The concentration of rods in the retina of cats is higher than in humans enabling them to see and identify moving objects in low light. The felines see colors less vibrantly or intensely, compared to people.

They see less saturation in colors when compared to people. According to research conducted in the year 2014, it is known that the lens of cats transmits visible, ultraviolet light, that is 315-400 nm UVA. These creatures are sensitive to the specific colors green, purple and blue.

How Cats Perceive Colors On TV?

Cat, Red Chair, Tv Armchair, Domestic Cat

The image seen on a television screen is possible by the boosting of the colors blue, red and green in humans and blue, gray and green in cats because cats see the color red as gray. Thus, here lies a major difference how humans and cats view the TV. Thus, cats see the TV with a tint of a greenish hue.

The TV masks shade like brown, green and yellow making it difficult for the humans to perceive those colors brightly on the screen. Whereas in the case of cats, the shades of brown, red and gray are masked, and the only colors they see vibrantly are purple or violet. Thus now it is evident, what colors do cats see.

How cats see also depends on the motion of prey. Different kinds of actions create various reactions in the felines. Changes in the scene and background do not fascinate these creatures. Cats respond to prey with the right action promptly.

Differences Between The Vision Of Cats And Humans

Photo Receptors

These cells are present in the tissue layer in the back portion of the eye. They perform the task of transforming the rays of light into the electrical signals. These signals then processed by the nerve cells and are transmitted to the brain, where they are converted into images. The rods and cones are the two types of photoreceptors present in the retina of the eye. The rods are responsible for the night, and peripheral vision and they detect gray shades and brightness. On the other hand, the cones help in perceiving color and day vision.

The felines have a higher concentration of rods than the humans and a lower concentration of cones. As a result, they can see objects at night more clearly than the humans and have a lower ability to detect colors compared to the people.

Field Of Vision

It is the entire region that can be seen by the eyes, that is straight ahead, below, above and sides. The field of vision for humans is 180 degrees, whereas the cats have about 200 degrees.

The Vision Of Color

“What colors do cats see” depends on the types of cones present in their retina. The humans have three types of cones that aid them to perceive the colors green, red and blue. The color vision of cats can be compared to a color-blind human. Felines have no problems detecting the colors green and blue, but they are confused with the shades of pink and red. The purple shade appears to be like another blue shade whereas the pink and the red shade seems to be more greenish.

Clearness Of Vision

Visual acuity is another name for the clarity of vision. The visual acuity of humans is 20/20, whereas that of cats range between 20/100-20/200. This means the felines are nearsighted creatures and they can see objects clearly from a distance of only 20 feet, whereas the humans can see the same objects from a distance of 200 feet.


Cats being near sighted cannot see clearly objects situated far away. Their nearsighted vision helps them to catch and hunt prey from a close distance.

Vision At Night

Due to the higher concentration of rods in the retina of cats, these felines are very sensitive to low light, and this helps them in detecting prey or protecting themselves from predators at night. Cats make use of only one-sixth of light that humans require.

Apart from the rods, the felines have a structure known as tapetum located at the back of the retina. The cells of the tapetum behave like a mirror and reflect the light that is transmitted between cones and rods back to photoreceptors. It also provides them with the opportunity to pick little light during the night and therefore cat’s eyes sparkle in darkness.

Thus now the most famous question, Contrary to the popular belief that felines see the world of white and black, they do perceive colors but somewhat different than the humans.

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