It is often thought that cats and dogs see in black and white only and that it doesn’t matter what colors their toys or other supplies are because they won’t differentiate the color anyway. While cats don’t have the same visual acuity that humans have, they can still see several colors besides black and white. But what is the color that they see the best?
Cats can see blues and violets the best, but they also can see reds and yellows on a lesser scale. Cats are near-sighted, but their peripheral vision is slightly longer than a human’s vision. They can see in the dark, but not like people think, as they can see only slightly more than humans.
If you’ve ever wondered what colors your cat sees and what color of toys will entice your cat to play, keep reading.
How Do Cats See Versus Humans?
Humans have a narrower peripheral vision than cats, but humans have a clearer vision than cats. Cats don’t see that well, and it’s almost like they are near-sighted. If they were human, they would need corrective eyeglasses.
But because they have photoreceptors in their retinas, they can see better in dim light than humans. While they can’t see in complete darkness, they can feel their way through the dark because their whiskers pick up on the immediate area’s vibrations.
Cats can see the same color cones that humans see, but they see fewer color variations than humans due to how their eyes perceive colors. Human eyes have ten times more color cones in their retinas than cats do, which explains the color variation perception.
What Colors Do Cats Actually See?
It is a common misconception that cats see in black and white and are completely oblivious to colors. But this isn’t accurate, as cats see in blues and violets clearly, but they have difficulty with pinks and reds. Like a color-blind human, cats can’t detect the same range of colors that humans can, but they do see in color.
They can see a limited spectrum in reds, pinks, blues, violets, and greens. But the pinks and reds might appear to be green to your cat, while purple might appear to be another shade of blue. When you think about it, purple is partially blue, so that is why cats might see it that way. When they go outside in the summer, the grass is immediately visible to them, as it’s green.
Cats can also see shades of grey, black, white, and yellows, though not as clearly as blues and violets. While your cat might not see and embrace the rainbow, they can appreciate parts of it.
Do Cats Have a Favorite Color?
Unlike humans, cats don’t seem to have a favorite color, but the colors they see the best are in the blues and violets family. Do cats gravitate towards any one color? When they have a favorite toy, they don’t seem to mind what color it is. As long as you’re playing with your cat, your cat could care less about the color.
One cat loves to play fetch with her humans by using small plastic springs of various colors. Her human throws the spring, then she runs to get it and bring it back. But she doesn’t seem to have a preference for any specific color of spring. When her human throws a blue or green spring, she seems to find it better than if a red or yellow spring is thrown. But she can still find it and bring it back for more fun.
Cats don’t seem to prefer any color when compared with what the item is. With the cat mentioned above, she likes the springs rather than the colors. Cats are not particular about any color, though. They prefer fun toys, soft blankets, and warm laps more than they care about colors.
Blues and Violets Are Good Colors For Cat Toys
As mentioned before, cats see blues and violets more than other colors. Perhaps that is why cats gravitate to those colors of flowers in your home or clothing in those colors. They might prefer something they can identify rather than a blurry and strange color they can’t pick up on.
If you want to stimulate all of your cat’s senses, then try sticking to toys in this color family. You could find a stick with feathers in these colors or toy mice with these colors if you like. But cats don’t care about the colors as humans do.
Stimulating all your cat’s senses might involve getting colored toys that your cat can see and make out the correct color. While you may never know if your cat can correctly identify the color, at least you are providing more stimulus for your cat’s eyes.
Why Are Cats’ Eyes Slit-Like?
Compared to humans’ eyes, a cat’s pupils can widen or narrow in response to the amount of light in the room and respond to any excitement happening. You can also stare at your cat with wide eyes and watch as their eyes start widening in response. You might not want to do that too often, however, as your cat probably won’t trust you anymore and will see you as a threat.
This feature allows your cat to more control over how much light to let in. The retinas open or close, depending on the light level in the room.
While this feature doesn’t explain why cats can see only one particular set of colors, it does tell you how they can see in lower light than humans can.
Can Cats See Clearly in the Dark?
Contrary to popular opinion, cats cannot see at all in total darkness. Their eyes are less developed than humans’ eyes and can see in dim light about as well as you can. Because of their slit-like eyes, they can allow more light in to see in dim conditions and can block out light in brighter conditions.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t find their way in the dark. Because cats usually do their prowling at night, people think they can see in the dark. It’s not their eyes that allow this, but their ears, whiskers, and paw pads. Their whiskers sense vibrations and alert them to prey or predator. Their ears rotate 180 degrees, so if they pick up any strange vibrations, they can rotate their ears in the direction the vibrations came from.
Their paw pads are sensors that help them feel their way in the darkness, much like you do with your hands and feet.
Outdoor cats usually have the light of the stars, moon, and perhaps streetlights to guide their journey. Sometimes, when they are in a dark tunnel or crawlspace, they can feel their way through using their whiskers and paw pads.
Dogs and cats don’t have the depth of color perception that humans do because they evolved to use other hunting methods besides their eyes. Since humans don’t have those same qualities, human eyes evolved into seeing better and more clearly than animals.
While cats can see colors, their perception of color is muted compared to what we see. If we see bright green grass, cats see a dull green lawn. If we see a deep blue sky, cats see a more simple blue. But since cats evolved to hunt things that weren’t so bright, their eyes didn’t develop that same color and depth perception, which is not needed for hunting.
- Wired: This Is How Cats See the World
- VCA Hospitals: Do Cats See Color?
- Business Insider: How Cats See the World Compared to Humans
- Thrive Vet Care: Can Cats See Color?
- Live Science: Feline Vision: How Cats See the World
- Catological: What Do Cats See?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.