Can Cats See In The Dark? – (Cat Vision)


It's one of those questions that seems like it is an urban myth you need to know the answer to but can Cats see in the dark?

Unlike the potential pattern on your cat, it's not so black and white. Cats need at least a bit of light to be able to see in darkness but their eyes are more developed to deal with these conditions so they do not need as much light as the human eye. Let's take a look at Cats eyes and the conditions they thrive in.

Can Cats See In The Dark? - It's Not All About The Eyes

That's right, a Cat has other strings in its bow to help them in darker conditions. Their whiskers help them to navigate and their sense of hearing is heightened. This way they are not completely reliant on the eyes to help them along the way.

Because they are nocturnal by nature they are built to deal with these conditions. Low light is where they can thrive and it instinctively helps them to catch prey.


Because cats are nocturnal by nature they are built to deal with the dark

Can Cats See In The Dark? - Cats Field Of Vision

Consider this, a human has a field of vision that expands to approximately 180 degrees, Cats on the other paw, can see up to 200 degrees. Therefore their range of vision is developed to be much greater.

The rod cells is where the real difference is that they have far more rod cells in their eyes meaning their eyes are far more developed to dealing with low light.

This is how they can sense movement in darker places.


Cats have a field of vision that expands to approximately 200 degrees

They also have a tapetum lucidum. This is situation behind the retina of their eyes and reflects light and helps them to see much more in the dark.

So, a Cat can see in low light, much lower than humans, but not in the pitch black.

Can Kittens See In The Dark?

It doesn't take long for a kitten to get up to speed with it's older counterparts, but when they are particularly young their eyesight is as underdeveloped as one might expect.

Much the same as a human baby, it takes time for their eyes to adjust to the world. Around 10 weeks is estimated to be the time a kitten can really start to see in a focused way.

Before then they will struggle to see anything in the dark, but this is also the case for the daytime as well.

Can Cats See In Complete Darkness?

The general conclusion here is that although their vision is far superior to human eyes, Cats cannot see in complete darkness.

They have specialist tools to help them see better than us, as well as the whiskers and heightened hearing that goes a long way. Part of what makes them excellent hunters is their adaptation to fast movements but they still need some light to be able to see.


As long as cats have some light around your home they will be able to navigate just fine.

The way they see color has been significantly reduced in terms of range as a result of this but their incredible instincts are often put down to their developed eyesight. Still, they are not superpowers!

Therefore, if you are worried that your cat needs a bit of guidance around the house at night, then don't. As long as they have some light around your home they will be able to navigate just fine.

This is especially the case with kittens who need a little bit of extra help at the early stages and this is no different when it comes to vision.

Are Cats Long Or Short Sighted?

Well, humans can see objects at a far greater distance. Anything over 20 feet and a Cat will struggle to see it in focus.


A lot of cats struggle to see anything that is less than a foot in front of them

Anything travelling at speed though is picked up by a Cat and they will find it easier to track it. That's part of what makes them such developed hunters.

Anything closer and they will rely on the senses from their whiskers. A lot of cats struggle to see anything that is less than a foot in front of them and slow moving objects may appear as though they are not moving at all.

Put this in contrast to their ability to pick up an object travelling at speed and it is quite surprising.

Can Cats See In Color?

The consensus used to be that cats saw in black and white but this has long been dismissed. In fact they do see in color, but not to the same level that a human does.


Cat see in color, but not to the same level that a human does

It is their cone cells that influence this. As humans we have a lot more cone cells that help us to see different colors. The space taken up by the rod cells mentioned earlier are to blame for this.

It is believed that this is why they do see color, but only in certain, limited shades and detail.

Read more Cat Articles on NolongerWild

About the Author Cindy Grant

A pet lover from Boston, USA who is extremely passionate about all cute little pets, especially puppies, kittens and birds. I created NolongerWild as a community where all pet lovers around the world can meet and share their passion with each other.

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