Cat General Health

Can Cats See in the Dark? Understanding Night Vision in Cats

Cats are nocturnal animals that love to play, hunt, eat, and undertake a variety of other activities while you’re fast asleep. But, these nighttime antics are the source of a common question among owners: can cats see in the dark? 

In this article, we’re going to dig a little deeper into cat vision and what makes these incredible animals such amazing night owls. 

Can Cats See in the Dark?

So, can cats see in the dark? Despite the fact that we’re often led to believe that cat eyes act like a pair of night-vision goggles, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While their vision is far superior to that of a human’s at night, cats can’t actually see in the dark. They actually need a small amount of light to be able to see properly. 

How Are Cat’s Eyes Different to Ours?

A cat’s eyes are designed in such a way that they allow in more light than a human’s eyes do. The combination of their curved cornea and larger lens means that in low light, their pupils dilate, letting in as much light as possible. 

Cats also have more rods in their photoreceptors. These are responsible for sensing motion as well as for night and peripheral vision. Humans, on the other hand, have more cones, meaning we see better than cats in daylight and we’re able to see more colours than they do

Last but not least, have you ever wondered why your cat’s eyes glow in the dark when you take a photo with a flash? Well, cats have a reflective layer in their eyes called the tapetum. This tapetum is responsible for reflecting light to the retina, allowing the retina to receive 50% more light than humans do when in darker settings. 

The Power of Their Pupils

At night or when they’re playing, cat eyes expand, allowing more light in. This expansion means that cats can adjust their eyes to see varying light levels depending on the setting. While it makes their vision blurrier, it also enables them to see better in low-light situations. 

Using Their Touch Receptors to See in the Dark

Can cats see in the dark? Not quite. But, they can definitely see better than humans. However, it’s not just their eyes that allow them to move so swiftly and effortlessly in dark settings. Cats have touch receptors that humans don’t: their whiskers

Cat whiskers help them detect objects, allowing them to better navigate in the dark. This combined with their exceptional hearing, which allows them to hear higher frequencies than humans, is what gives them their ninja-like abilities. 

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