Can cats see in the dark? Well, cats have exceptional night vision when combined with their other senses, making them the ideal tiny midnight predators.

If you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably had the delightful pleasure of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of your cat shredding throw rugs or hissing loudly at some mysterious creature outside the window (or at your home’s friendly ghost). These endearing, though sometimes vexing, nocturnal activities indicate that your cat can see very well in the dark and may be nocturnal.

While cats are great at seeing in the dark, they are not nocturnal. Cats are crepuscular, which means they are more active at dusk. Their capacity to see in the dark, in conjunction with their other senses, equips them for post-bedtime excursions.

Can Cats Really See Better in the Dark?

Although our feline friends can see on the darkest of nights, cats do not always see better in the dark. Although cat eyes developed to assist them in nocturnal activities, they still operate optimally in daylight. We often believe that cats see better in the dark since they are usually most active after dusk. However, do not be deceived by your sofa catatoe. They are capable of carrying out search-and-destroy operations in any light! They just lack the desire to demonstrate.

How Does a Cat’s Night Vision Differ from Humans?

The distinctions between cat and human eyesight begin with the retina of the eye. The retina is the layer of the eye that contains cells called photoreceptors. These cells are classified into two types: rods and cones. Cones aid in daytime vision and the detection of color hues. The rods aid in night vision and peripheral vision as well (seeing from side to side). Cats have an abundance of rod receptors but a dearth of cone receptors. This explains why they have excellent night vision but struggle with color perception. Humans are the opposite, with excellent color vision but poor night vision.

“When I contemplate feline (night) vision, one thing that comes to me is their tapetum lucidum—a thin, reflective coating along the back of their eye that ‘bounces’ and amplifies light in dark areas. This is why dogs’ and cats’ eyes ‘glow’ in the dark, according to Alicen Tracey, DVM, veterinarian at Den Herder Veterinary Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa.

Their pupils expand for maximum light

You may have often questioned why your cat’s eyes are mostly a straight vertical line during the day and then widen at night or when they’re playing. This is because having vertical slits in their pupils enables them to concentrate, since varied quantities of light may reach the eye via various regions.

According to a 2015 research conducted at the University of California, when a cat’s pupils expand to their beautiful saucer-like shape, more light enters the eye. This enables them to see in low light conditions, but blurs their vision. Additionally, cats may undergo a 135 to 300-fold alteration in the region, while humans only undergo a 15-fold change. This implies that cats’ eyes can adjust to a broader range of light intensities than humans’.

Cats are near-sighted

While cats’ night vision is unquestionably superior than ours, they are also nearsighted and have difficulty focusing on distant things. Humans can be up to five times further away and yet perceive the same level of information as a cat up close. Although cats’ eyesight is much blurrier than that of humans, they have a larger field of vision of 200 degrees (humans have a range of vision of 180 degrees) which allows for improved peripheral vision. Additionally, they are more sensitive to tiny movements and changes in light, such as the shadow of a scurrying mouse.

How Do Cats See the World?

Cats do not have the range of beautiful colors that people have, although they do perceive certain colors. Cats see the world mostly in grayscale, with hints of blue and yellow, and perhaps some green. This lack of color perception does not deter them, though. Cats are particularly adept at detecting tiny movements and noting rapid details, even on moonless nights, thanks to their extraordinary vision.

Have you ever wondered why your cat is perplexed by your new haircut or the mustache your wife pleaded with you not to grow (was it worth it?)? This may be a result of their inability to see properly up close. Cats, interestingly, perceive objects further away than humans do, but they have a broader range of vision.

In What Other Ways Cats ‘See’ Better?

Apart from their extraordinary eyes, cats have developed with a variety of unique sensory skills. Our paws-itively wonderful felines possess exceptional senses, particularly those of hearing and scent.

According to researchers, a cat’s sense of smell may be more than 15 times greater than that of a person and may even be more sensitive than that of a dog. This power is not derived only from their adorable heart-shaped sounds. Cats have a unique organ called the vomeronasal organ, which is located on the roof of their mouth. This enables them to taste and smell profoundly simultaneously. If you’ve ever seen your cat curling their lip, grimacing, or licking something while inhaling, they may be utilizing that organ to get more information about their environment.

Additionally, our feisty felines have very acute hearing and are capable of determining the source of a distant sound. Cats’ big ears enable them to detect faint, high-pitched sounds from long distances. Cats can quickly hear sounds such as the scream of a mouse or the buzzing of a fly, making them even more efficient predators.