Can Cats See In The Dark- Know More About Your Feline Partner!
If you own a cute kitten, you might have wondered can cats see in the dark or how the world appears from those huge glittery eyes? It is pretty common and most feline owners do have these thoughts most of the time.
There are plenty of urban beliefs or you may call them urban legends surrounding your cute kitty, you must be familiar with some. Some of them are pure myths, like seeing a black cat crossing your path is a sign of bad luck, we humans tend to make everything about ourselves, that kitty is just headed to meet its family, just that!
One common belief about cats is about their vision, in particular, it is about can cats see in the dark or not. Many owners believe that their cats have a strong vision and that they can see well at 2 S.M as well they see at 2 P.M, but is it true? can cats see in the dark? Let’s find out!
Can Cats See In The Dark?
Most probably, it is a YES! Let’s cut right to the chase, it turns out that your cat can see in the dark, well, at least better than you see. Cats have the ability to see with more details in the dark than we all can. We can barely form a proper picture r a structure when we see it in the dark but it is not so for the cat, they can see quite well in the dark, at least that well to form the structure of figures. They can comfortably see the texture, finer details, and shapes in the dar while we may break some of our body parts striking with objects.
But the evening hours are not as clear for your cat as daylight, but they can pick up the details way more clear than we can.
Now that you know can cats see in the dark or not, you might be wondering how do they see objects so clearly.
How Can Cats see In The Dark?
Vision is an interesting and mysterious thing to discuss when you really think about it. For instance, the mantis shrimp has 12 color receptors whereas we humans only have 3. This allows them to see a rainbow of several colors we cannot even begin to imagine. Eagles ate able to see 4 to 5 times farther when compared to us. And, cats, can see in the dark and identify objects instead of stumbling and falling somewhere.
But what is the reason exactly behind this? How can cats see in the dark so nicely?
There are several possible reasons behind this better version of dark for cats. Most of these reasons are associated with their eye structure. To discuss in detail, here are some of those reasons due to which cats can see so much better than us in the dark.
1. The shape of the pupil
Most animals possess a circular pupil but cats are different. Cats have a slit-like shape and elliptical pupil which plays a huge role in how cats can see clearly in dark. The elliptical shape of pupils as compared to the circular ones pushes more light into the cat’s eye when it is dark outside. Their pupils also dilate significantly so that more light can enter when it is night. Cats can expand their pupils by 135 fold (it is just 15 times for humans).
It is all due to these vertical pupils that cats can see so much at 2 am without being blinded totally when it is daytime.
2. rod to cone ratio and photoreceptors
All retinas for humans, cats, dogs, or other animals have 2 different types of photoreceptors these are rods and cones. Each of these receptors has a separate function within their eyes. Rods are for night vision in nighttime where as cones are responsible for color processing and seeing objects in the daytime.
Human retinas have 120 million of these rods cells for nigh time. You might hin it is enough but cats’ retina has 4 to 5 times more rod cells compared to us, now you see why they see so clearly. Cats have a higher number of rod cells and a lesser number of cone cells which is the exact opposite as humans have more cone cells than rod cells.
3. Size of the cornea
The cornea forms the outermost layer of our eyes. When light strikes the eye and enters inside the cornea, the curved edges of the cornea bend this light. This plays a huge role in how your eyes see the objects.
The size of the cornea is relatively larger in cats which makes it a key contributor in why they can clarify objects way better than humans at night. Their cornea is large which means they have a larger surface area for the light to enter. Know that the more light enters the eyes, the easier it becomes to focus and see.
4. Tapetum lucidum
Tapetum is an additional layer of tissue located just behind the retina in cats. This layer is not present in humans but useful in cats. This layer is the shiny green reflection we often catch on the cameras while clicking their pictures. You can also see it easily when they are outside at night.
This is a special tissue and it acts as a retroreflector. It reflects light backward inside their eyes and gives them a higher ability to perceive things when it’s dark outside.
There are other animals too like horses, deers, dogs, and cows that have this layer called tapetum lucidum. Cats are true hunters, which makes it important for them to use this layer, unlike most animals that do not have tapetum lucidum like pigs, kangaroos, and few other primates.
5. UV light Vision
Not only do cats see things better than humans do, but it turns out that they can see more than you’ll. Cats also have the ability to see UV light, unlike humans which allows them to see a lot of things more like urine trails for hunting or patterns on flowers. These things are invisible to us.
The transparent portion of a cat’s eye transmits UV wavelengths thus allowing more light to enter inside the retina. As already mentioned, more light entering the retina simply means more clarity and night vision.
6. Whiskers and ears
Clearly, cats can see much better than we do in the dark. But, it is not just the eyes that help cats see better when the sun goes down, their whiskers also play a huge role in complementing the eyes.
The whiskers of a cat act as a touch receptor which often helps them receive better senses of the surroundings and detect ant obstacles in the way. Their sharp sense of hearing also helps them by making a sound of higher frequently easily detectable to their ears.
All these features combined help a cat see and feel things better at night without getting harmed.
Cat’s evolution to see in the dark
Between their higher number of rods, vertical pupils, presence of tapetum lucidum, and larger cornea size, it has become extremely clear how can cats see in the dark so well. But how did they evolve to become the way they are?
According to many experts, evolution occurred to make cats better hunters. Vertical pupils which you saw in your cat were earlier only present in those animals that used ambush as a means to hunt their prey. This was commonly seen in nocturnal animals. Ambush predators are required to be better at assessing distance so that it slows them to jump out and catch their prey directly.
This states that vertical pupils in cats do not just allow them to see in the dark it also helps them have a better sense of their location and their prey. This is one reason how can cats see in the dark so well and easily catch their prey.
Know that all the cats created are not equal in terms of the information given above. While domesticated cats like you have as a pet have vertical pupils, the larger breeds like lions and tigers do not have the same.
Cat’s are also near-sighted, so they can see the closer things really well. Far away things are not as clear for cats as they are for humans. Here is a vision of what cats see, the results are pretty fascinating.
These were 6 fascinating features about a cat’s eye view and what enables them to see in the dark.
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