Are Cats Color Blind? – Can Cats See Color?

Russell Cargill

It’s become common knowledge that cats and dogs see color differently to humans.  In fact, some humans don’t see colors the same as others. So what about a cat’s vision, are cats color blind and are they able to see color?

The short answer would be, yes, kind of. Cat’s don’t see colors as vibrantly as we do and they are unable to see black or white.

They’re able to perceive different colors to a degree, and a good way to explain it is that they see color similar to a human who is diagnosed as color blind.

What Colors Do Cats See?

Similar to a human who is color blind, cats can see shades of blue and green. However, reds and pinks can confuse them, these colors may appear green and purples can look like blue.

To understand what colors cats can see, we must first understand what rods and cones are. Rods and cones are found inside the eye’s retina, this is for both humans and animals.

The “rods” detect light and motion while the “cones” give the ability to determine different colors.

Cats have more rods than a human which is why we think they have night vision. It’s a fact that cats can see exceptionally well in the dark compared to us. Humans have more cones than cats which gives us the ability to see a larger color spectrum.

Are dogs colorblind? No, dogs have the ability to see more than black, white and grey. However, their color range and vibrancy is not the same as humans. The canine color filed mostly consists of yellows, blues and violet colors.

So What Colors Do Cats See?

Well, we know that they don’t see everything in greyscale and can actually see a large range of colors.

A cat won’t see the same richness or saturation of colors as humans can but they do have color vision.

Want to take a look for yourself what a cat’s ability to see is like? Here is an article that business insider wrote about it.

Are Cats Color Blind? – How Do They Know Cats Are Color Blind?

Science of course!

Believe it or not, scientists use sophisticated tests involving food and color panels. They tested dogs color blindness to see if they can sense different colors.

For example, if a dog could distinguish a light color panel they would get a treat. They repeated this over and over until they had their answer to are dogs color blind. They concluded that both dogs and cats are indeed color blind to a certain extent.

Scientists now believe that dogs and cats have the ability to see blues and greens, which means they have the ability to tell the difference between yellow and blue but not red and green.

What Do Cats See When They Look At Humans?

Are you sitting down? According to research from the University of Texas at Dallas, when shown a picture of their owners face and a strangers face their cats only recognized the owners face about 50% of the time.

In the above study, the same cats were shown images of a familiar cat and a strange cat. They selected the familiar cats face 90.7% of the time. The cats also choose an image of a familiar outdoor setting over an unfamiliar setting 85.8% of the time.

So human facial recognition isn’t their strong point. Instead of recognizing our face cats use their other senses to recognize us. They pick up our individual scent, the sound of our voice and even the way we feel to identify us.

Cats Field of Vision

A cats filed of vision is slightly different from that of humans. Firstly their eyes are set further apart than ours meaning they instead of 180 degrees of vision we get, a cat will have 200 degrees. That means their peripheral vision is greater than ours.

The downs side to this for cats is the distance they are able to see.

How Far Can Cats See?

A cat’s vision is 20/100 to 20/200, which means that a cat would have to be 20 feet from an object to see what a human can see from 100 feet or 200 feet away.

Things we see clearly from those distances would be blurry or dull for a cat. While this may seem like a liability to us humans, for a cat it’s perfect for hunting.

Do Cats Have Night Vision?

As mentioned cats have more rod cells in their eyes than we do, making it easier to see in low light or the dark than we can.  This gives them the ability to detect motion in these situations and increases their ability to hunt at night.

Cats are naturally most active at dusk and dawn and if you haven’t noticed sleep most of the day. Over the thousands of years of their evolution, they have developed and inherited their visual acuity.

Ever seen a picture of a cat with those glowing eyes? Well, that’s actually a reflection of the light caused by something called a tapetum lucidum. In simple terms, it’s basically a mirror that reflects the light when its dark outside. That’s what allows your cat to have great vision in the dark.

Lastly, they have a unique ability to open their Iris widely to let more light in, you might have seen that dramatic change in the shape of your cat’s eyes.  You’ll typically see this when playing or your cats favorite cat toy.

Can Cats See in Total Darkness?

No, cats will still need some light to see. Compared to us they need exactly 1/6th of the amount of light we do to see.  Their vision is really something special and what makes them incredible hunters.

When in total darkness, cats will call on their other incredible senses such as their hearing, smell and feel to navigate their way around.

What Colors Do Cats Like?

It’s hard to say if a cat is attracted to one color more than another. If your cat has a preference in toys, it’s probably due to the fact of the way it feels or smells rather than the color.

They are more attracted to movement and light, which explains why they go crazy when chasing a laser. Just don’t let the laser shine in their eyes or yours.

Conclusion On Are Cats Color Blind

Cat’s don’t see colors as vibrantly as we do and they are unable to see black or white.

They’re able to perceive different colors to a degree, and a good way to explain it is that they see color similar to a human who is diagnosed as color blind.

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