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Cats can see almost as well as humans can, and at times better. Cat vision is designed for detecting motion, useful for hunting. Like humans, cats have binocular vision, although not as well tuned as in humans.
This means a cat most likely sees in 3-D, which is very useful for judging the distance between objects.
Cats have an elliptical pupil, (right side of image), which opens & closes much faster than round types as in humans, (left side of image). An elliptical pupil also
provides for a larger pupil size which allows more light to enter the eye.
Cats appear to be slightly nearsighted, which would suggest their vision is
tailored more for closer objects, such as prey, that they can capture within
A cat relies on its extremely sensitive hearing and directional ear movement
to locate the general location of prey, then targets and captures the prey
using its keen eyesight. Cat vision is adapted to precieve the slightest of
movement. This makes a cat one of the most successful hunters on land.
The combination of elliptical pupils and the Tapetum permit cats to see extremely
well in near darkness. The picture on the left is how a human would see in near
darkness and on the right, how a cat would see. In low light, like night, color
and hue are not perceived, only black, white and shades of gray.
Cats have both rods and cones in the retina. Rods are the receptors that the
eye uses for night time viewing and sudden movement. Cones are used
during the daytime and process color information. Cats have more rods than
cones, as compared with humans, making cat night and motion vision
superior to humans.
Cats responded to the colors purple, blue, green and yellow range.
Red, orange and brown colors appear to fall outside cats color range,
and are most likely seen as dark to mid shades of gray.
Cats appear to see less saturation in colors than do humans,
meaning cats do not see colors as intensely or vibrantly. Purple,
blue & green appear to be the strongest colors perceived by cats
The research done by Kitty Show was important not only in verifying cats can
and do see color, but to what degree. This is especially important when
viewing TV screens. TV creates the image seen by lighting up 3 colors- red,
blue and green. In a cats case, red is seen as gray.
So now we have gray, blue and green, instead of red, blue and green..
This shifts the color balance, similar to humans viewing a TV with the tint
adjusted to the green side. It would "camouflage" or "mask" colors involving
shades of green, brown and yellow, making those objects hard for us to see.
For Cats, the "masking" would be red, brown and gray. So.. to compensate for
this, Kitty Show created the "Serpia Filter". This filter shifts the colors/hues of
red and brown to purple and violet. These are some of the strongest colors
cats can see. Now.. cats can see all the commotion with little or no masking.
Understanding how cats see also suggested the subjects selected for Kitty
Show movies. Cats hunt by motion. Certain types of motion causes certain
reactions from cats. Backgrounds, scene changes and such are not what
cats are most interested in. It's the motion of the prey.
The easier cats can see the prey, along with the right kinds of motion,
the more likely a cat will respond.