Do cats have night vision?

Cats have mysterious auras. Despite years of domestication, cats are still associated with otherworldly occurrences. This is due to the fact that these animals have some mysterious abilities. Aside from the famed nine lives, cats are also believed to have a sixth sense…an ability that is not clearly explained by science. Cats are as well noted to have the capacity to see even in low light conditions. In the dark, the flashing eyes of a cat can be quite eerie. Nature has been kind to these animals that hunt at night. Compared to humans, cats can see much better at night because these animals have excellent night vision.

Did you know that your cat only needs one sixth of the light level you need to be able to see? Cats are predators. These animals are nocturnal hunters and just like any other animals that hunt at night, cats are endowed with excellent night vision. Through the years of evolution, cats are believed to have developed this kind of night vision that is most essential for their survival.

Cats’ night vision is far superior to what we humans have but there is no truth to the notion that cats can see in complete darkness. While we humans would grope and stumble in almost total darkness, cats would unerringly find the squeaking mouse or find the litter box without bumping into things. This ability is due to the unique construction of cat’s eyes. Human eyes and cat eyes are constructed around the same design but both visions have certain kinds of specializations. Having evolved from diurnal fruit eating animals, humans have a kind of vision that gives emphasis on color and detail. Cats are nocturnal animals thus they have a kind of vision that works well in dim lights.

The cat’s pupil is one of the reasons why this animal has excellent night vision. The pupil of cats is much larger as compared to humans. Apart from this fact, the pupil can get larger to let in more light or made smaller to lessen the light that would enter the eyes. Unlike human pupil that stays round, a cat’s pupil can contract into vertical slit or open fully to achieve maximum illumination. Light that enters the pupil will be focused by the lens. More light will be gathered in the lens that is also larger than what humans have. Low levels of light will be focused and enhanced by the lens so that the cat is allowed to have good vision even in dim lights. This kind of vision though has one trade off. Cats cannot see objects directly under their noses.

Another reason why felines have good night vision is because these animals have fewer cones and more rods in their eyes. Humans have good color vision because their retina is cone-rich. Cats do not have the ability to see rich colors and fine details because of the fewer cones. However, these animals have excellent night vision because of the presence of more rods that greatly enhance the pooling of light in the retina. Additionally, cats have a reflective structure behind the retina called tapetum lucidum. Tapetum lucidum is composed of fifteen layers of reflective cells composed of guanine substance. This light reflecting membrane is what makes the eyes of these furry friends shine in the dark. In the same manner that a mirror would reflect light, the tapetum lucidum will also reflect the light that passes through the retina. This causes the retina to absorb more light thereby allowing the cat to have retina illumination that is about five times better than what human eyes have. These are the reasons why cats have excellent night vision.

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