Cats are often praised for their many amazing abilities, but the feline’s fascinating eyes can sometimes be overlooked.
Whether your pet sees the brightest color or just sees everything in black and white was until relatively recently a long-standing topic of debate.
News week presents everything we know about the amazing abilities of cat eyes, but first, a little physics.
When light hits an object, the object absorbs some light and reflects the rest with the reflected or absorbed wavelengths depending on the properties of the object.
The nerve cells in the eyes of cats and humans are equipped with specialized photoreceptors, allowing some of us to look at the world in beautiful color thanks to this bouncing light.
The retina of the eye has two main types of cells: rods and cones, the latter alone responsible for visualizing an enviable spectrum of colors.
With our eyes and those of our kittens each sharing three types of cones that can identify color combinations, we have about 10 times as many cones as cats.
As a result, humans enjoy more color variations than their feline counterparts, with some experts claiming cats only see blue and gray, while others are confident they also see yellow like dogs.
A 2016 National Library of Medicine article seemed to admit it, stating, “Despite extensive study, the fundamental nature of feline spectral sensitivity remains unresolved. “
However, scientists are unequivocally convinced that the eyes of cats are armed with exciting secret weapons.
Cats ‘visual fields are significantly wider than those of humans, spanning approximately 200 degrees, compared to their owners’ 180 degrees, giving animals superb peripheral vision, an ability exacerbated by having the eyes placed more on the sides of the head.
And while that does mean that objects seen at distances no more than 20ft (6m) by cats are likely extremely blurry, it has a distinct advantage – they would need a sixth more light than humans. .
Due to the rod-shaped photoreceptors parked in cats’ retinas, they are much better than humans at seeing in low light conditions, a useful ability because cats are crepuscular, which means they are more active in the dark. dusk and dawn.
Teresa Keiger, Creative Director of the Cat Fanciers’ Association, recounts News week: “This is also when their prey is most active (and why your own cat at home also becomes very active at these times). Much of the physiology of their eyes has evolved to make them good hunters. “
Keiger adds that the separate pupil of cats provides another distinct advantage. She says, “It can range from a narrow vertical slit (to filter very bright light) to completely round and covering most of the iris.
“The latter lets in a lot more light and further improves cats’ ability to see at night.”
As an added benefit, rod cells have the added benefit of cooling off faster, allowing cats to trace rapid movements with consummate ease.
And finally, Alicen Tracey, DVM at Den Herder Veterinary Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, said Daily Paws cats have a “tapetum lucidum, a thin reflective coating along the back of the eye that bounces and magnifies light. in dark places “.
Such a reflective coating is now known to be the reason why cats and dogs eyes seem to glow in the dark.