How do cats see?

How do cats see? | Lovebug Pet Foods

Ever wondered what your cat sees when they look at you with those big cute eyes? We were curious about how our cats see the world around them (and how they see us too!) so we’ve taken a deep dive into the science of how cats see.

Do cats see like we do?

Cats’ eyes are pretty different to ours, so they don’t see things exactly like us humans. Their eyes have different strengths and weaknesses compared to ours, making them better adapted for all of a cat’s favourite activities. There are a few main differences in how cats’ eyes work: distance, colour, and light.

How cats see distance

Cats are actually near-sighted. The muscles in a cat’s eye are different to ours, so they can’t see things at a distance: anything from about 6 metres away will be too far for them to see clearly. 

We have muscles in our eyes that let us adapt our focus, changing from close up to far away, but cats do not. What they have instead, however, is really good peripheral vision—very useful for spotting prey or any potential dangers in their surroundings!

How cats see colour

Cats are missing a colour receptor, so although they can see some colours, they can’t see red or green. This doesn’t bother cats, though: their vision tends to rely more on brightness rather than colours.

How cats see in the dark

As most cat owners will probably know, cats can see really well in the dark. This is because cats are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk. Their eyes need to be effective in low light conditions because this is when they’d usually be out hunting for their dinner. 

In pitch black conditions, neither cats nor humans can see a thing. But as soon as there’s a tiny amount of light, cats have a huge advantage: their eyes allow them to see 6-8 times better in the dark than humans. This is because their eyes have an increased number of light receptors and their pupils can widen much more to allow more light in.

So how does the world actually look to cats?

Thanks to artist Nickolay Lamm and a team of opthamologists and vets, we can get a pretty good idea, because they put together some images of how cats see the world

And, most importantly, how do our cats see us?

So we’ve covered the science behind how cats’ eyes work, but what do they see when they look at us humans? Experts believe that cats see us as slightly clumsy, very big cats. It’s thought that cats don’t differentiate between cats and humans, so they think we’re just like them, albeit larger and less coordinated. 

Unlike dogs, cats don’t change their greetings or behaviour when meeting another cat or a human, and treat us all the same. We think we’ll take that as kind of a compliment!