Skip to content

What Colors Can Cats Really See?

    Title: Decoding Feline Vision: What Colors Can Cats See?


    As devoted cat parents, we often find ourselves marveling at the mysterious ways of our feline friends. One intriguing aspect of a cat’s life is their unique vision. Have you ever wondered what colors cats can see? In this article, we will delve into the captivating world of feline eyesight, exploring their visual abilities and shedding light on the fascinating spectrum of colors that our furry companions perceive.

    The Myth About Colors Cats See

    So, let’s start by talking about the many myths that exist.

    Do Cats See in color or in black and white?

    Some people think that cats see only in black and white. They think that because many think they based on the their brains development that they can only see in basically a grey scale.

    Another myth is that cats see exactly what humans see.

    Their brains are actually more similar to humans than they are dogs, so it would make sense for people to not believe the grey scale and go to the complete opposite direction, they see what we see.

    Understanding Feline Eyes:

    Before we embark on our exploration of colors, let’s first understand the basics of how a cat’s vision works. Like humans, cats possess eyes that are essential for navigating their surroundings. However, there are significant differences in the structure and functionality of their eyes that allow them to adapt to their nocturnal and predatory nature.

    Night Vision Prowess:

    Cats are crepuscular animals, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk. Their eyes have evolved to excel in low-light conditions, thanks to a specialized structure called the tapetum lucidum. This reflective layer located at the back of the cat’s eye enhances their night vision by maximizing the utilization of available light.

    Color Vision in Cats:

    Contrary to popular belief, cats are not completely colorblind. While their color vision is different from that of humans, they can perceive certain colors to varying degrees. It’s important to note that the feline color spectrum is narrower and less vibrant compared to ours.

    Cats and the World of Color:

    Dichromatic Vision:

    Unlike humans, who possess trichromatic vision, cats have dichromatic vision. This means they have two types of color receptors or cones in their eyes, while humans have three. The two types of cones in a cat’s eyes are sensitive to blue and green wavelengths. They lack the third cone, which is responsible for perceiving red hues.

    Blues and Greens:

    With their blue and green cones, cats can perceive a range of colors within the blue and green spectrum. Shades of blue, green, and their combinations are distinguishable to cats, albeit with a limited color depth. So, while they may not appreciate the finer details of a rainbow, they can certainly appreciate the world in shades of blue and green.

    Lack of Reds and Oranges:

    Due to their missing red cones, cats are unable to discern the vibrant range of reds and oranges that we see. These colors appear as various shades of gray or brown to them. Consequently, red toys or objects may not catch their attention as much as those in blue or green.

    Superior Night Vision:

    Although not directly related to colors, it’s worth mentioning that cats’ superior night vision compensates for their restricted color vision. Their eyes’ ability to gather and amplify available light allows them to navigate their surroundings effectively in low-light conditions, making them excellent nocturnal hunters.

    >> Treat Yourself To The Cutest Cat Attire

    How Does A Cat’s Vision Compare To Human Vision?

    Just because cats don’t see all the colors we do, doesn’t mean they don’t perceive or find value in different colors. I like to compare it to men and women comparing paint colors. Women will see 10 different shades of brown, men will see two. (that’s an exaggeration to make my point). Just as men tend to be less sensitive to difference rich tones, cats don’t have the ability to notice the change in brightness of a color.

    Cats have a wider field of view — about 200 degrees, compared with humans’ 180 degrees view.

    However, humans have a greater visual acuity compared to their feline friends.

    Most cats only see up to about 20 feet, whereas humans can usually see objects clearly ten times farther, up to 200 feet away. This is, of course, unless they are nearsighted. Fun fact, cats are actually more near-sighted in general than the average 20/20 vision human.

    What do cats see when they look at humans?

    So how do the cats see the world? Myth debunked, cats visions are not completely grey scale.

    But if you were someone who believe that they see exactly the same as we do, you are half right.

    Compared to human eyes, cats actually have much better eye sight in dim light as well as overall night vision.

    However, human vision wins when it comes the color spectrum. Pretty cool huh!

    And while the topic of rods and cones tends to lose some people (me at first), it’s actually quite interesting.

    They see exactly the same as some humans. Humans who are color blind. So not like every human. But hey! That makes cats more like us than we originally thought!

    What Does This Mean For Your Cat?

    While cats are born with this ability, or inability, to see all colors. There really isn’t much you can do to “help” them. (Mainly because they actually don’t know any better!) However, it is important to know that buying toys that are bright colors won’t stimulate your cat as much as movement.

    Toys that are both red and green can confuse your kitty and cause them to become less interested in the toy than if it were blue or yellow. And if you are feeling crazy when it comes to cat toys that move, throw some green in there too!


    While cats’ color vision may differ from ours, it is still a fascinating aspect of their sensory perception. Understanding what colors cats can see helps us appreciate the world from their unique perspective. Remember, although they may not see the vibrant hues we do, they can still experience a world filled with shades of blue and green. So, the next time you choose a toy or decorate your home, consider incorporating these colors to create a visually stimulating environment for your beloved feline companion.

    As cat parents, let’s continue to explore and embrace the wonders of our feline friends, respecting their individuality and celebrating the mysteries that make them truly special.

    4 thoughts on “What Colors Can Cats Really See?”

    1. How about when cats seem to see things we cannot. I have always thought my cats can see a dimension humans can’t. Example is when my cat is looking up and following something, very intently, with his eye, moving his head to follow even pawing at the air. Do cats have the ablility to see things we can not?

      1. Suzanne Levinson

        Absolutely! They can see tiny organisms that are invisible to us.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *