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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Like most living creatures, cats are capable of perceiving their environment visually. One must not assume, however, that the sight with cats is to be compared with that of the human being. As the anatomy of the cat’s eye differs significantly from that of the human eye, differences in field of vision, visual acuity and colour perception can be observed. In addition, cat’s eyes are better predestined for seeing in low light conditions than human eyes.

How sharp does a cat see?

In terms of visual acuity, we humans are a little ahead of cats. However, the human eye is adapted to daylight. Cats are usually active during the night and therefore do not need to be as sharp as we humans. Cat eyes are made for the night, thats why they like hunting in the dark. When the lens of the cat’s eye is curved, cats see closer objects sharply, when the lens flattens, they see sharper in width. However, we humans can see much sharper in the distance, from approx. 5-6 meters a blurred vision starts with cats.

Cats have a wider field of vision

As with us humans, cat eyes are directed to the front. Thus they are also able to perceive our world in depth (spatial visual behaviour). However, our    cats  have proportionally larger eyes, which gives them a wider field of vision.  We humans can normally see a latitude of approx. 180 degrees, the field of vision of a cat extends up to 220 degrees.

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The colour perception of a cat

In humans, so-called suppositories in the eye are responsible for colour vision. These suppositories enable us to identify short-, medium- and long-wave light. Short-wave light is perceived in blue tones, medium-wave light in yellow tones and long-wave light in red tones. Also the cat-eye shows suppositories, however only two. They lack the cone for recognizing the long-wave light. This means that they can only recognise blue or yellow tones or mixtures of these, such as the colour green for example.

Sparkling eyes at night

In terms of seeing in poor lighting conditions, cats have something ahead of humans. So-called rods in the eye are responsible for light sensitivity, but the cat’s eye has significantly more rods than the human eye. In addition, the cat’s eye has a reflective layer (Lapetum Lucidum) behind the retina, which reflects the incident light back again. This increases the amount of incident light and enables the cat to find its way even at dusk and at night. So anyone who has ever wondered why cat’s eyes sparkle at night has the explanation. In complete darkness it is not possible for the cat to see anything, because (even the smallest) amount of light is needed for the amplification.

cat eyes


Cat’s eyes are truly a masterpiece of nature and cast a spell over many people. Especially sparkling cat eyes at night are an impressive spectacle. In visual acuity and color-perception the human being disadvantaged indeed, cat-eyes are privileged however in many other respects. The field of vision is larger in comparison to humans, they can find their way better in poor lighting conditions, cats can often perceive moving objects faster and they should also have the ability to perceive wavelengths of UV light. However, the above mentioned supposed disadvantages towards humans are of little relevance for cats, as cats are usually hunting at dusk and at night.