How do cats see people?

how do cats see?
How do cats see people? ©️Pixabay

You’ve heard of a birds-eye view. You’re familiar with the fish-eye lens. But how do our pet cats see the world? Let’s find out!

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How do cats see the world?

Cats have a much wider view of the world. Their field of vision is about 200 degrees, a humans field is only 180 degrees. This gives them a superior peripheral vision, which is a common trait in many land predators.

The major difference between a human and a cat eye is in the retina. The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of the eye which contains photoreceptors. These convert light into electric signals. The signals are then sent to the brain and translated into images. There are two types of photoreceptors: rods and cones. Rods deal with things like brightness and shade, while the cones are responsible for processing colours. Cats have up to 8 times more rods than humans, which explains their excellent night vision. Their rod cells process information extremely quickly and are constantly sending new messages to the brain. This is why cats can spot quick rapid movements in the dark, a vital skill for any nocturnal hunter.

Cats eyes also have something called a tapetum. It sits just behind the cornea and works as a retroflector. This means it reflects light back through the retina, allowing more light to hit the photoreceptors which means more signals being sent up to the brain.

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You’ve probably noticed that your cat pupils dilate when it gets dark. This is another one of natures tricks to let in more light.

How do cats see people?

It depends how close you are to the cat. Humans have muscles inside the eyes that can change the shape of the lenses, allowing us to see things that are close by and far away. Cats don’t have these. In fact, cats are very farsighted, and so anything more than a few metres away looks pretty blurry. A cat’s vision is sharply focused on its immediate surroundings. This means they can find and hunt prey, as well as evade any threats from larger predators.

Compared to dogs, cats aren’t very good at recognising individual faces. In a 2005 study, cats were shown a picture of a familiar face and a picture of a stranger. The cats recognised the familiar face around 50% of the time. The same test was repeated, but this time the subjects were shown pictures of a familiar and unfamiliar cat. They recognised the familiar cat over 90% of the time.

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Does my cat even know who I am?

Don’t worry. Your cat still knows who you are; they just have different ways of identifying you. Cats know what you smell like. They also know what you sound like. In fact, researchers from Tokyo University proved that kitties can recognise their owner’s voice rather well. They played recordings of two voices calling out the cats name. The first voice belonged to its owner; the second voice belonged to a stranger. The cats responded much stronger to the familiar voice.


Cats are independent by nature. They tend to much more solitary than dogs and can even come across as a little aloof. But it’s just the way they are. They might not be good with faces, but cats have their own special ways of identifying their favourite humans.

Read also: 5 benefits of having a cat at home

Ashley is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. When he's not writing, he enjoys reading, martial arts and meditation. Unfortunately he doesn't have the space or the time to own a dog, so he volunteers as as dog buddy, which basically means he'a a dog babysitter. He walks them, feeds them, and generally just chill out with them. It's awesome.