Can Cats See Color?

Have you ever wondered if your cat can see color? Cats are not colorblind, considering that they only have trouble seeing certain colors. Cats have more rods than cones, making them more capable of absorbing light and seeing in the dark.

Cats can distinguish shades of blue and green, which means they can also see yellow and purple. They have color blindness when it comes to shades that are in the red family. However, they do not perceive the vibrancy of color the way humans do.    

Can Cats See Color

It is a widespread belief that cats can only see in black or white. They have their own world of colors to look at. Peruse below to find out if cats can see color. (see video)

How Many Colors Can Cats See and What Are They?

Cats are not colorblind. They see color the same way dogs do, but instead of seeing blue and yellow, cats see green and blue shades. For someone to be completely colorblind is a rare occurrence.

The most common type of colorblindness is when someone cannot tell the difference between green from red.

Since a cat only recognizes shades of green and blue, which is up for debate, they may not see colors such as:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Brown

Many people assume that cats can only see in black or white, which is a common misconception. Every cat is different. Some cats prefer bright, shiny objects, while others gravitate toward dull colors.

Cats are somewhat like people who cannot distinguish between certain shades of color. For example, red appears to be a muted green color to your cat, while pink may appear to be more of a gray color.

Comparing a Cat’s Eyes to Human Eyes

A cat’s eyes and a human’s eyes have similar functions but in different amounts. Cats and humans both have retinas that can identify colors. They both have rods and cones within the retina of the eyes, which assist in perceiving images.

Cats have about eight times more rod cells than humans. Rod cells help your cat see in dim lighting, which caters to their natural nocturnal instinct to hunt. Cats have excellent night vision, which helps them to see in the dark to catch mice.

Rods are more effective than cones when it comes to absorbing light. The job of the cones is to absorb color and promote color vision, but cats have a limited range when interpreting color.

Humans have three types of cones. These include:

  • Blue
  • Green
  • Red

Cats also have three types of cones. These include:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Green

However, some theorize that their vision is equal to a human who is colorblind, with one cone not being able to detect red. They only see two colors, and these include:

  • Blue
  • Green

Human beings have ten times more cones than cats, which means humans can see colors in more detail and intensity than cats. Cats may not have the same color spectrum, but they can still perceive different colors. They might not be able to decipher the actual color of an item. They are less sensitive to brightness cues.

The lack of sensitivity in this area makes it impossible for cats to view a rainbow or a sunset with the same intensity as a human. They do not see colors as being vivid and rich.

What Colors Do Cats Like?

Even though cats only see blue and green, they can see more than just two colors. Since yellow is required to create green, cats see some shades of yellow as well.

It takes blue to make purple, so they can see within the blue-violet spectrum.  Red and pink appear gray to your cat due to the third cone perception.

If you look at different cat toys, you will see a broad range of colors to entice your cat. There are different:

  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Patterns

Shades of blue and green stand out to them the most. The contrast of less vibrant colors makes these colors seem brighter. Some of the popular color combinations for cat toys include:

  • Black
  • White
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Pink

While these colors are great for making different patterns on your cat’s favorite toys, it has been surmised that cats prefer pastels over any other colors.

Some of your cat’s favorite colors include pastel shades of:

  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Purple

Cats also like the color white. White mixes with other colors cats like to make pastels. Cats see white as a glowing color. Cats sometimes prefer to play with balled-up white paper rather than a new toy.

Even though it is believed that cats tend to enjoy specific colors the most, all cats are unique, and some may prefer one color over another.

Besides Color Perception, What is Different in Cats?

Cats have a broader field of vision than humans do. They have better peripheral vision and can see around 200 degrees, compared to a human who sees 180 degrees. Cats are more nearsighted than we are.

When seeing an item from the same distance, an item may be apparent to us, and we can see it. However, the object or image may be blurred to cats. For example, humans can see an item about 100 feet away, while a cat needs to be no further than about 20 feet to view the item clearly.

Cats also have elliptical pupils that dilate enormously, which allows them to acquire a significant amount of light. They have reflective cells under the retina, which form the tapetum. The tapetum is a tissue that helps to improve your cat’s night vision. The tapetum is the reason why your cat’s eyes glow in the dark.

Humans perceive a cat’s eyes as glowing, but it is a reflection of visible light. The reflection is referred to as “eyeshine.” Something extraordinary about cats (and there are so many awesome things about cats) is that they can voluntarily adjust their pupil’s size.

If a cat decides that there is too much light in their environment, they will make their pupils thin to decrease the amount of light that they receive. The tapetum can also help cats to observe the light that is invisible to the human eye. Cats can perceive ultraviolet and infrared rays.

Cats Can See More Color Than Dogs, But Not as Much as Us

While cats may not see colors as sharply and clearly as we do, they can still respond to brightness cues and different shades. Cats can see various shades of blue and green, but not reds or pinks, and they love pastels.

The next time you purchase a cat toy, get one that has colors that your cat likes. Your fur baby will appreciate the extra effort!

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