Have you ever speculated on what your pet cat can see? Cats appear to possess an otherworldly personality. Being at the end of the cat’s unblinking eyes can be unnerving especially because cats are believed to have the special ability to see things that cannot be seen by humans. Are cats’ eyes really that special? Cats have good eyesight. Cats are predators and their specialized eyesight is adapted to make these animals excellent hunters.
Just like any other predators, cats’ eyes are located on the front of the head. With eyes that are set well forward on the front of the head, cats are allowed to have a wider field of vision. This arrangement also allows cats to have superior depth perception. When hunting, a cat would need to gauge its distance from the prey and figure out when to leap. Cats have very large eyes. When a cat is seen the eyes that are unusually large in comparison to the size of the head will be noticed at once. Cats have deep seated eyes and because the eyeballs are recessed, its movements are restricted. However, this is fully compensated by the cats’ excellent lateral vision. The protruding cornea also helps in giving the cat excellent field of view.
Do cats really have good eyesight? Cats are natural born hunters. Even those that were born and raised as indoor-only pets and were not given the opportunity to hunt would still have the hunting instinct. The eyesight is therefore adapted to its being a hunter. Cats have excellent night vision. Have you ever wondered why your kitty can walk in the dark and unerringly find the litter box without stumbling? This is because cats only need about one sixth of the light level we humans require to see. The cat’s pupil and the tapetum lucidum give cats the special ability to see in the dark six times better than humans. Cat pupil is unique. While human pupil is constantly round, cat’s pupil can change form. From being round, the pupil would continuously shrink in until it becomes elliptical so that the center of the eye would appear to have a slit from top to bottom.
Simply by squinting, the cat can control the amount of light that will enter the eyes more effectively. The cat’s ability to see much better in poor lighting is due to the tapetum lucidum. This special membrane at the back of the eyes acts not unlike a mirror. Light that enters the eyes will be reflected back by this membrane through the receptors thereby increasing the cat’s eye’s sensitivity to low levels of light. Cats are known to have excellent night vision because these animals have more rods and fewer cones in their retina. Rods are photoreceptors that function best in low lights while the cones in the retina can function much better in bright lights. This ability to see better in low lights have a trade off. Kitty cannot see the difference in color and the ability to see the fine details of an object is rather poor. While cats can easily see a prey at a distance, one that is right in front of its face will not be seen. This is due to the fact that cats are slightly myopic. It will be noticed that food that is placed right under the chin of the cat will not be immediately noticed. The cat will only turn its attention to the food when it is smelled. Cats are excellent nocturnal hunters because they have the kind of eyesight that is adapted to seeing well in low lights but these animals cannot distinguish color very well.