What The World Looks Like To Your Cat

The stories your cat could tell about you could probably fill a book. After all, when she isn't snoozing on the couch, she's intently watching everything you do — especially when you're opening up a can of her favorite cat food or waving a wand toy in front of her nose.

Portrait Of Cat Standing On Grassy Field
credit: Philipp Zimmermanns / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

Let's face it, much of your cat's world revolves around you, who she most likely views as a very big cat who walks on two legs and doesn't seem very furry. But when she looks at you and everything around her, what exactly does she see? It seems that seeing the world through her eyes is a very different experience from seeing it through your own eyes.

A little less colorful

In your cat's eyes, the world is a little less colorful than it is to you. A popular myth is that cats don't see colors at all, but that's not true. Cats see things in muted colors, similar to a person with color blindness. A study published in the December 2016 edition of "Experimental Eye Research" showed that felines are red-green colorblind just the same as humans who are red-green colorblind — the most common form of color blindness in people.

It seems that cats can see and distinguish between shades of green, blue, yellow, and gray but anything that's reddish or pink looks like a shade of blue or green to them. So their vision is a bit similar to being underwater, with everything around them a bit washed out. Now you know why your cat uses his nose to sniff out his favorite catnip toy rather than just relying on his eyes.

A little fuzzier

If you're nearsighted, then you and your feline probably have a lot more in common than you think. Cats don't have very good distance vision, averaging around 20/100 to 20/200 as compared to our own 20/20 vision, according to Wired. What this means is that cats can see at 20 feet away what we can see clearly at 100 feet away.

This might seem strange, but that's why cats sneak right up to their prey or favorite toy because they have much better up-close vision. But further away, things are a little blurry for them, so they have to get up close and personal.

More movement based

Cats are hunters, so their vision is based primarily on movement. That's because, in the wild, cats are attuned to things that move so that they can pounce on said moving things to catch and eat them.

Both cats and humans have cone and rod cells in their retinas that help them see, but cats have more rod cells than we do — six-to-eight times as many, according to Live Science. These rod cells help cats pick up on movements more accurately than we can. We have more cone cells though, which help us see things more clearly and more colorfully.

Cats also have a wider field of vision than we do. A human can see up to 180 degrees up, down, and sideways at once, but cats can see up to 200 degrees. This means your feline truly has a more panoramic view of the world.

Better at night

Although they can't see quite as well as humans during the day, cats have a major advantage at night. That's because they have excellent vision in the dark that allows them to see things much more accurately than we do. This gives them a definite advantage when it comes to hunting at night, dawn, and dusk.

Although they can't see in pitch-black darkness, they can see in very low-light conditions due to the reflective surface at the back of their eyes called the tapetum lucidum. The tapetum lucidum sits just behind your cat's retinas and acts like a mirror, reflecting up to 130 times more light than our own human eyes do, according to VetStreet. That's why your little one's eyes seem to glow in the dark because they are so good at reflecting light.

The extra rod cells in a cat's eyes also help them see more clearly in low-light conditions. Those cells work in conjunction with the reflective tapetum lucidum to give them excellent night vision. It's almost like your cat has built-in night vision goggles, which is pretty cool.