ginger cat in glasses lying with book in his paws - cats are near sighted so might need glasses to see!

Do Cats See in Colour?


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Somebody has probably told you somewhere along the line that cats see in black and white, or that cats are colour blind. Turns out, that’s not exactly accurate though there is some truth to it. So what colours can cats see?

If cats aren’t colour blind, do they get to appreciate the turquoise hues of the ocean like us? If they’re eyeing off birds through the window, do they know that one is green and one is yellow?

So. Many. Questions.

We’ve got all that (and more) covered here.

What colours can cats see?

Us humans have wondered for quite a while if cats can see colour. And obviously, it’s only been in fairly recent years that we’ve been able to find out. It’s not like they can tell us what they can and can’t see! Thank goodness for science.

The results are in: cats can see colour. So no, cats aren’t completely colour blind. However, they can’t see the same spectrum of colours that we people can.

How eyes work

Regardless of the species, eyes function pretty much the same in general. Inside the eye retina you find two types of cells – rods and cones. Cones are what the eye uses to differentiate between different colours. So knowing what colours cats can see (or any animal, for that matter) lies in assessing the cone of the eye.

Both humans and cats have three types of cones. This means they can identify combinations of red, blue and green. On the other hand dogs only have two cones – for blue and yellow. So always pick the blue or yellow toy for your pup!

close up of green eyes on black cat

Does this mean cats can see colour the same as humans?

Alright, so if cats and humans both have three types of cones, can cats see colour the same way we can? Nope! Here’s where it gets a little more complicated.

While cats and humans both have three different types of cones, humans have 10 times more cones than cats. This means although they can see combinations of the same colours as us, they have a far more limited variety. While you can look at a paint swab and decide whether the duck egg or the sea mist is best for your wall, your cat certainly couldn’t.

Scientists aren’t 100% sure exactly what colours cats can see. One theory is cats see only blue and grey, while other scientists think cats can also see yellow.

More facts about cat eyes

Wondering what else is behind those mysterious cat eyes, now you know they can see colour – sort of, anyway?

  1. Cats are near-sighted. If something is under 6m away from them, they can see it clearly. Things that are further away become blurry.
  2. Cats have elliptical pupils which can dilate very wide and allow a lot of light in – this means they can see well in the dark.
  3. We may have more cones, but cats have more rods. Rods help to see movement, meaning cats can see tiny movements much more easily than us.
  4. Finally, cats’ eyes are on the side of their head. This gives them a wider field of vision than us, but poorer depth perception.

So you now know whether cats can see colour and what their overall vision is like… Why not get an answer to some other cat general knowledge questions you may have. Like why do cats knead? And why do cats purr? Why do cats eat grass? And for the intellectuals: what is Schrodinger’s cat

this cat in a basket on the fonrt of a bike wonders 'can cats see colour?'

No near-sightedness for cat parents

Regardless of what colours cats can see, while you might not beat your cat’s night vision, where you do come up trumps (other than colour, obviously) is with your power of foresight.

And cat parents with foresight know cat insurance is the best way to protect their furkid. It doesn’t have to break the bank, and your kitty is protected against unforeseen (or in this case, predicted and planned for) medical expenses. Get a quick quote with PD Insurance today.

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