Do cats see in black and white?

Cats have lived with humans for thousands of years but cat owners generally believe that the world as seen by the cats’ eyes is in black and white. Recent studies have shown that cats can see color. A cat’s color vision though is not as enhanced as what humans have. Cats appear to be color blind but these animals do not see the world in black and white.

Cats have mysterious beautiful eyes. Did you know that relative to the body size, cats have the largest eyes among mammals? Cats are often associated with otherworldly occurrences because the beautiful unblinking eyes give cats a mysterious aura. Cats are endowed with ultrasensitive senses. Cats’ scenting and hearing abilities are much more sensitive than what we humans have. Cats also have excellent night vision. Cats have about 120 degrees binocular vision. Being nocturnal hunters, this ability is very important for the cat’s survival. However, for such a long time, cat owners have wondered if the pet can see color. It was commonly believed that like other animals cats see in black and white.

The eye structure of cats is similar to the structure of human eyes. This is why scientists have entertained the possibility that cats do not only see in black and white but can see colors as well. Studies conducted years ago have failed to prove if cats can see color. Recent studies using advanced technological procedures have shown that cats really have color vision. Cats’ eyes, similar to human eyes have retinas. This layer of light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye is the reason why cats can see colors. Retina has two types of receptors – the rods and the cones. The difference between human retina and cat retina is that humans’ retina are cone-rich while cats’ retinas have more rods. Cats rods to cones ratio is about 25:1 while the ratio in humans is 4:1. Color vision is provided by the cones while rods are the photo receptor cells that react to light and dark. This explains why cats have better night vision but poor color vision. Cats can see color but not all the colors that human eyes can see. This is due to the fact that the cone sensitive to the red colors is not found in the cat’s retina. Cats are similar to people with a colorblindness condition called deuteranopia. This means that cats can see color blue, purple, green and yellow. Studies conducted showed that cats respond to these colors but not to red, orange and brown. These colors are most likely seen by cats as gray. Cats though can distinguish different shades of gray, a feat that humans cannot do.

A cat may see all the colors of the rainbow… may not see the vibrant red color of the owner’s favorite rose but these animals have the kind of vision that is most suitable for seeing in the dark. Cats are nocturnal hunters. Having excellent night vision is therefore more important than having the ability see colors the way humans so.