Green eyed cat staring into the distance

Cats eyes are designed to see better at night.

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Do cats see colours?

By Ashley Murphy Content Writer

Updated on the

Do cats see colours? If so, are they any different to the colours we see? Does a cat know the difference between blue, green, and red? Or does it all look the same to our furry little friends? And how did we look in our cat's eyes? Do they gaze upon us with the same love that we have for them?


Well, let's answer all those questions by looking at how cats see colours and humans.

Do cats see colour or black and white?

For a long time, vets assumed that our pets could only see the world in black or white. But scientists now agree that cats and dogs have the ability to see colour, although their spectrum is far narrower than ours. In other words, they can't see as many colours or shade as humans.

All mammals have something called photoreceptors that help them see colours. Photoreceptors are cells in the retina, which is a layer of tissue at the back of the eyeball. They are two different kinds of cones: cones and rod cells. Cones are responsible for differentiating between colours and function best in bright light. On the other hand, rod cells work better in dim light. Your cat has between six to eight times more rod cells than you, which explains their excellent night vision.

What colours do cats see?

Cats can see a range of colours, including red, green, and blue. However, like a human who is colour blind, they can get confused by certain shades. In cats eyes, a light shade of red can appear more pinkish, while a deep purple will look blue.

If your interested in lifting the veil off your human eyes and seeing what the world looks like for a kitty, check out artist Nickolay Lamm. Working alongside cat experts and scientists, Lamm created a fascinating series of pictures that contrast the human and the feline perspective.

Can cats see yellow?

Cats can see yellow, but they can't tell the difference between shades. So whether it's sunflower yellow, banana yellow, or a deep mustard yellow, it all looks the same to your cat. Moreover, they probably see anything that's gold or orange as yellow.

What colour are cats most attracted to?

Cats eyes are stimulated by movement rather than colour. So there's no reason why your cat should be attracted to one colour instead of another. So if they always go for the blue toy rather than the green toy, it's probably got something to do with its shape or smell.

Do cats have good eyesight?

To answer to this question we should define what we mean by "good". For example, the cat's vision is quite blurry and all felines are also short-sighted. Anything more than 20 feet away will look pretty fuzzy to a cat, while objects that are 200 feet in the distance will be practically invisible.

Here's what every owner needs to know about a cat's eyes watering.

However, cats have a much wider field of vision. Their peripheral vision covers 200 degrees, whereas we can only see 180 degrees. What's more, cats are fantastic at spotting movement and subtle changes of contrasting or reflecting light, like the shadow of a tiny mouse scurrying across the ground. 

Do cats recognise their owners?

The good news is that your cat definitely recognises you. Kitties are really good at remembering their favourite people, even if they haven't seen them for years.

But despite spending around 10,000 years by our sides, cats are still not great at recognising how we feel. Research shows that cats are either incapable of understanding our emotional state or merely indifferent to it.

What do cats see us as?

Until we learn to speak cat, we'll never really know how our cats see us. So for now, we'll have to defer to the experts.

John Bradshaw is a cat-behaviour expert at the University of Bristol and the author of Cat Sensea scientific study into the nature and history of cats. Bradshaw acknowledges that cats can recognise us and may even be quite fond of us. But he thinks cats see us as an extension of themselves, rather than fully formed individuals with our own unique thoughts and feelings.

"We've yet to discover anything about cat behaviour that suggests they have a separate box they put us in when they're socialising with us," writes Bradshaw.

Does this explain why some cats get called psychos? Maybe!

But plenty of owners would disagree. And even Bradshaw admits that more research is needed. After all, cats have been known to cuddle up to people who are feeling poorly or sad.

So we know that cats see colours. But unfortunately, the way they see us remains a little bit of a mystery. But one thing is for sure: our furry friends are not the cold sociopaths that kitty haters like to call them. In fact, cats are rather fond of us. And, in their unique way, cats might love us, too.

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