Do Cats See Color?

Here's what the world looks like through your cat's eyes 🌈

cat with sunglasses

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering if your cat can see color, you aren’t alone!

Turns out cat color blindness is a real thing.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Megan Dundas, a veterinarian and practice owner of Lincolndale Veterinary Center in New York, to find out what the world looks like through your cat’s eyes.

Are cats totally color blind?

The short answer? Not completely.

“Cats have color vision, but humans have about 10 times the number of the color sensitive cells, cone photoreceptors, that cats have,” Dr. Dundas told The Dodo. “The number of cone photoreceptors that humans have allows them to perceive a greater range and variation of color [than cats].”

Basically, this means your cat can, in fact, see colors — just not as many as people do.

“Cats are similar to humans who are red-green colorblind,” Dr. Dundas explained. 

So how exactly do cats see color?

Your cat’s ability to see color — and on the flip side, his color blindness — have to do with the cells in his eyes.

“The smaller number of cone photoreceptors means that a cat may not be able to perceive an object’'s ‘true’ color,” Dr. Dundas explained.

But while your cat’s color receptors might not give your BFF the most vibrant view of the world, other aspects of his vision are pretty impressive.

“Cats have more of the light- sensitive cells, rods, than humans, which gives them the advantage when seeing in low-light settings,” Dr. Dundas said. “A greater number of rods also allows cats to detect motion more readily than humans. Clearly an advantageous and even necessary adaptation for animals that have evolved to hunt at dawn and dusk.”

There’s actually a reason why your cat is really great at seeing in the dark and detecting motion, and not so great at telling his colors apart.

“The priority with a cat’'s vision, and ultimately survival, as they are both prey and predator, is better vision in dim lighting and better detection of motion,” Dr. Dundas explained. “The ability to distinguish variations in color is not as valuable for a cat as it is for people.”

What colors can cats see best?

There are certain shades that your cat will have an easier time seeing than others.

“When choosing toys, yellows and blues are better bets than shades of red,” Dr. Dundas said.

Other factors, like size, can help your cat tell his colors apart, too.

“Cats have a better ability for distinguishing differences in color if the objects are large and differ greatly in color,” Dr. Dundas said.

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