Cat Sight
Cat Sight

How Cats See the World

Cats are colour blind, perceiving only shades of blue and green, but can see much better than humans in the dark

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Featured Photo Esin Deniz/

Colour It is commonly thought that cats only see shades of grey, but this is incorrect. A cat’s vision is similar to a human who is colour blind—they can see shades of blue and green but have trouble perceiving pinks and reds (which appear green-ish) and purple (which appears as another shade of blue). Cats also don’t see the same level of colour saturation that we see. 

How Human See Colour

Night vision Cats have evolved to be excellent nocturnal hunters. It is estimated that a cat’s nighttime vision is six times better than ours due to the high number of rods in their retina that are sensitive to dim light. The trade-offs are cats don’t see fine detail or rich colour as well as we do.

Why do cats’ eyes glow in the dark?

Photo: Mihailo K/

Why do cats’ eyes glow in the dark? Another reason cats have excellent nocturnal vision is because of the tapetum,an extra layer at the back of the eye behind the retina. The tapetum acts like a mirror, reflecting light that passes between the rods and the cones back to the photoreceptors. This gives cats a second chance to absorb the small amount of light available at night. Cats are also able to dilate their pupils widely, maximizing the amount of light entering the eye in dim settings.

Distance vision Cats are nearsighted—they can’t see distant objects clearly. However, up-close they see very well, which serves them when hunting. 


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This article originally appeared in the award-winning Modern Cat magazine. Subscribe today!


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