Do cats see color?

For such a long time, the cats’ ability to see color was a gray area for cat experts. For a long time it was believed that cats only see in black and white. Various research conducted by scientists have proven that cats can see color.

During the 1940s it was thought that cats only have black and white vision. For years, scientists had a hard time determining whether cats can see color or not although theoretically, they believed that it is possible for cats to see color. Cat eyes and human eyes have almost the same structure. But with new testing procedures, scientists have finally made a breakthrough. Findings of recent studies have pointed to the fact that cats indeed can see colors. In a study where cats were repeatedly made to distinguish red from orange and orange from cyan, it was noted that cats indeed have the ability to make the discrimination. Recent studies and the use of more modern techniques have proven that cat can see colors but these animals do not see colors as vibrant as we humans do.

Cats’ inability to see colors vividly has something to do with the rods and cones in their eyes. Similar to human eyes, cats’ eyes have photoreceptor cells. Cats can see color because their eyes have cones and rods. Cats’ eyes use the cones for daytime vision and the rods are used for nighttime vision. However, cats’ eyes cannot see all the colors human eyes can see. Why? First off, cats’ eyes have lesser numbers of cones as compared to human eyes. As cones are the cells responsible for color vision, it is expected that cats’ ability to see colors would be comparatively low. Cats can see purple, green, blue and shades of yellow. Red, orange and brown are colors not found in kitty’s color chart because the cat’s eyes do not have the cone that corresponds to these colors. Human eyes have 3 types of cones – short waved light for blue, medium waved light for yellow and long waved light for red. Cats have short waved cones and medium waved cones but they do not have long waved cones thus the color red is not in the cats’ spectrum. Cats have color vision but they are comparable to colorblind humans.

Although cat eyes and human eyes are practically the same in design, cats’ world is colored differently. It is quite fortunate that cats do not really need to see colors to exist. Cats may not have the ability to see color in detail but these animals were gifted with excellent night vision. Being nocturnal hunters, good vision in the dark is more important for these animals. Cats have given up the ability to see the rich colors of their environment just to be able to see in the dark. And cats really do have excellent night vision! Cats can navigate unfamiliar places even with only 1/6 of the illumination humans need to see in the dark. Color is not really important to cats but the ability to see in dim light is certainly crucial to the cat’s existence.