What do Cats See ?
First thing in the morning we often gaze out of the bedroom window and see the most gorgeous red and orange sunrise in the sky. The colours reflect off our neighbours walls and windows, and create a spectacular golden effect. At the same time, our little Tabbie Cat looks out of the same window. We wonder … can she really see what we humans see? As Melbourne’s premiere Cat photographers, we often look into the eyes of our subjects, to see if their emotions look ‘right’.
The first major difference is not that well known. Cats cannot focus properly on distant objects – where ‘distant’ is anything more than 10 metres away. It’s a gradual blurring, but an important one. Let’s think of ‘big cats’ on African plains. The stalking of prey isn’t just to close the gap between prey and predator. It is also to enable Lions, Leopard or Cheetah to judge their prey in more detail. They can then decide whether to launch into an attack, or wait for an easier meal to come by.
As humans – we have a ‘spread’ of vision of up to 180 degrees. However Feline vision has more peripheral vision, with a total spread of 200 degrees or more. This can be really important for spotting the presence of any friends or foes in the vicinity. Particularly as of course, cats cannot move their eyes up and down, or left and right – unless of course they move their heads.
But what of that age-old question – can cats see in the dark? Well, Yes and No. If it is pitch-black, then they can see more than humans, but ONLY if there is some ultra-violet light that usually comes from the moon. But in a dark room in your home, they really can’t see any better than humans. I guess this is why all of us risk falling over our beloved felines if we get up from bed in the middle of the night! At dusk or dawn, then again – there is some advantage to feline vision. This of course explains why the big cats of Africa choose to make those dawn and dusk ‘raids’ in search of a meal. This also explains why it is so important not to let our cats out at night, or before daylight in the morning.
The Feline colour spectrum is also quite different to ours. Blues are almost the same as ours – albeit a little faded. Reds however are more of blackish-purple. Brown and Orange tend to be more like how we perceive the colour Grey. They definitely do not see the world in Black and White though – again, another urban-myth.
Here are some wonderful pictures of cat close-ups that we have recently portrayed:
For a visual comparison on what cats are likely to see, compared side-by-side with human vision, you can have a look here
Vision – Cat Photography Melbourne