Seeing a rainbow in the sky is a visual experience that includes hues – violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. What about cats? Can cats see color? Is your cat able to identify the same range of colors as you? If so, what colors are they? Does it appear like the colors are hazy?

It’s been a long time since anybody has looked at how cats see color, but the findings are astounding. Cats, unlike humans, are unable to enjoy all of the hues in the world. 

Can Cats See Color?

To begin, cats do not view the world in black-and-white terms. However, they aren’t able to discern between hues the way humans can. Specifically, it has to do with the cone photopigments in their eyes. These pigments are part of the eye’s photoreceptor cells, which are responsible for converting light into electrical impulses. Humans have three types of cones and cats have only two types of cones.

What colors are visible to cats?

Their eyesight is comparable to that of colorblind individuals. Primarily, “they cannot distinguish between greens, yellows, and reds. They may perceive subdued hues with a strong emphasis on blues, yellows/greens, and grays.

What Does Science Have to say about what colors cats can see?

When a cat views a rainbow, they do not see the complete spectrum of colors. Why do cats see less colors than humans?

Indeed, research has established that the eye’s nerve cells perceive color. Each retina has cones and rods photoreceptors. Cones are how we perceive color, but because humans have 10 times the number of cones than our feline counterparts, we can view a considerably wider variety of colors.

This has prompted some scientists to think that cats only perceive green, blue, and maybe yellow.

Additionally, it is reported that cats frequently see red hues as considerably greener in tone than humans do.

What are the visual distinctions between cats and humans?

Apart from color perception, felines and humans have further visual distinctions. In several ways, feline eyesight is inferior to human vision. Cats are more near-sighted than humans. When we view an object from the same distance as our cats, the thing may appear sharp to us but blurred to them. For instance, if a person can see a tree clearly which is 100 feet, a cat will see it as hazy. Indeed, the item will not seem sharp until the cat approaches it from a distance of around 20 feet.

To compensate for these slight visual disadvantages, felines possess other visual benefits. Cats’ eyes are placed further to the sides of their heads than ours, giving them a wider range of peripheral vision. The trade-off is a narrower range of visual acuity, which means cats lack depth awareness.

Also, cats’ elliptical pupils dilate maximally, helping them to catch the most amount of light possible. Likewise, they have reflecting cells beneath the retina that constitute the tapetum. The tapetum imparts a “shiny eye” look to cats and also enhances their ability to see in low light.

Similarly, cats have more rod cells in their retinas than their human counterparts. Rods are in charge of sensing motion, even at long distances. Thus, as compared to humans, cats see better in low light (dusk and dawn) and can detect motion more precisely.

Sources: 1, 2