Can Cats see in the Dark?
The skills of our feline friends are numerous. However, there is one thing that we are often wrong about. If you asked yourself: “Can cats see in the dark?”, your answer would surely be yes, because you will have seen your pet move more easily than you in the dark. However, you may be wrong…
The correct answer is no, cats cannot see in the dark.
It is very common to think so, but the reality is that it is not true. Felines have the ability to take advantage of the little light in a room better than we do. In fact, compared to humans, cats see 6 to 8 times better than us in dim light.
However, in pitch darkness, cats see nothing.
So how do they orient themselves so well in the dark?
If your cat can’t see anything in the dark, how come he doesn’t bump into things when he moves without light? The main reasons are two:
One corresponds to what happens to us and that is that there comes a time when we know so well where things are in a room that we are able to avoid them when we walk in the dark. The same can happen to them.
The second reason is given by some very characteristic elements present on his face: the cat’s whiskers! In case you didn’t know, a feline’s whiskers are not just hairs. These have nerve receptors and are very sensitive to movement, pressure and air currents (that’s why you don’t have to cut the cat’s whiskers). The mustaches help them a lot in the dark, since they allow them to analyze their surroundings and know if they have objects very close that they must avoid, for example.
Why do they see better than us in the dark?
Although in total darkness they do not see, the fact that in low light they do see better than humans has an explanation.
Their vision develops much better in dim light, unlike the human eye or that of another pet such as the dog.
The cat’s pupil is capable of dilating considerably more than ours. In addition, your retina has a greater number of light-sensitive cells, which makes it easier to make the most of the low light that exists. However, for that reason they are also more easily dazzled by a lot of light.
Perhaps someone has been able to think that cats can see in the dark by observing how their eyes glow when there is no light. But no, that does not mean that internal lights turn on to guide them in the dark.
The reason why cats’ eyes shine when there is no light is because they have a particular cell layer in the back of them. That layer is called the tapetum lucidum, which means shiny carpet in Latin.
This layer is responsible for reflecting light towards the retina, as a mirror. In this way, even if there is darkness in a room, the little existing light will be reflected by two on the retina. That is why they manage to see better in the dark compared to people, who only reflect that light once.
Other peculiarities of feline eyes
Another issue in which many people are often wrong is in the colors that animals can perceive. In the case of cats, they not only see in black and white, but they also perceive some colors, although less than we do.
Felines do not see the color red, but «in exchange» they have a wider field of vision than ours. They see up to 200 degrees and we stay at 180º.
Finally, another curiosity. Have you noticed that your pet’s eyes are quite large compared to his head? Well, it’s not just your appreciation, but it’s true.
Those big eyes make them capable of perceiving any movement very well from a distance (which makes it easier for them to hunt prey), but they are not very good at focusing up close. For this reason, they can manage to abstract from everything that surrounds a prey and focus only on it to hunt it.
Now you know that cats cannot see in the dark as well as you thought, but they have their mechanisms to see better than us and not collide with all the furniture.