12 Facts That You Didn’t Know About Cat Eyes

Cats also have an incredible reflex that enables them to survive falls from up to 60 feet. 

A cat named Andy was even recorded to have fallen from a height of 200 feet and survived proving that cats indeed have nine lives.

Just a few fun facts before proceeding to our main topic, ie, about cat’s eyes. 

Cat Eyes Facts

When it comes to cats’ eyes, however, the topic alone deserves a whole article of its own.

Here are 12 facts that you probably didn’t know about cat eyes.

Cat's eyes and face

1. Cats cannot see in total darkness

Contrary to popular belief, cats do not see in total darkness but because they are nocturnal creatures with eyes designed to adjust to the amount of light, they can definitely see better in the dark than humans and dogs do. This is mostly thanks to their slit-shaped pupils and the fact that their eyes have a higher rod to cone ratio making them to need only about 15 percent of light needed by humans to see.

For this reason, it is believed that cats can see up to eight times better than humans.

2. From vertical slits to round plates; cats’ pupils change shape to protect their eyes

You may notice that your cat’s pupils may change shape from time to time and as mentioned above, they do this in order to adjust to the amount of light present in an environment. This is similar to how humans’ and dogs’ pupils change shape but much faster.

Their pupils can go from a wide plate-round shape, indicating minimal light, to a thin vertical slit. Aside from controlling the amount of light that is reflected in the eyes, the changing of shape also gives protection against damages caused by too much light.

cute adorable kitten with blue eyes

3. Cats are not exactly color blind

Most people think cats are color blind and while this may be true to some extent, they just don’t process color as well as humans do. This is mostly because they have fewer cones in their eyes. To be exact, cats are dichromats which means that there are only two types of cones that enable color reception. These colors are mostly for blue and green but none for red. There is some evidence that indicates three types of cones in cats making them trichromats, but this information is yet to be proven.

Cats do not see the world in black and white but rather, their color reception is muted compared to that of humans.

4. Cat’s eyes show their emotions

If you are unsure as to what your cat is feeling, the best way to determine their emotions or at least an inkling of it, you can check their eyes. When their pupils are widened, it means your cat is feeling heightened emotions like excitement or even fear. Narrowed pupils may mean your cat may be a tad bit too cranky.

5. All cats start with blue eyes

When cats are born, all of them will have blue eyes. The reason for this is that melanin, which is responsible for color, has not yet begun production in the eyes. It may take a few weeks to a couple of months before a cat’s actual eye color starts to surface.

Since blue is indicative of the absence of melanin, all blue-eyed cats do not have melanin in their eyes.

6. Almost all white cats have blue eyes

Now, this may not be true for all cats with white-colored fur but more often than not, they mostly have blue eyes. It is rare for white cats to have different eye colors aside from blue because the gene responsible for the white color, or rather the lack of color, is so dominant that it represses all other genes that dictate color, including those of the eyes.

7. Cat eyes may indicate deafness

This only applies to white cats with blue eyes. Usually, this combination can result in deafness caused by a rare genetic defect. For white cats with different colored eyes, the one with the blue eyes may indicate deafness for the ear in that direction.

8. Cats can have different colored eyes

You may notice that some cats will have one color on a single eye and a different one on the other. This is known as a condition called heterochromia and this does not affect the overall condition of the eyes or the cat’s own health in any way.

Humans can also have this condition such as the likes of Kate Bosworth, Dominic Sherwood, and Mila Kunis.

9. Cats’ eyes can glow in photographs

When you take a photograph with your cat, you may notice that its eyes have an eerie glow to them. You don’t have to worry about your cat being possessed because the reason for their glow is due to the refractive mirror-like cells behind the retina, called tapetum lucidum.

These are responsible for the cat’s ability to make incredible use of minimal light. This is why your cat sees better than you in the dark.

When your camera flashes, these cells reflect back the light making them look like they’re glowing.

10. Cats see rapid movement better than dogs

One of the big differences between cat and dog vision is that cats have less peripheral vision due to the shape of their pupils. This can prove advantageous for cats in a way that they only have to rely on contrast and the varying degrees of brightness to see rapid movement which can be important for survival.

Take note that there is a big difference between how cats, dogs, and humans see the world. On the downside, cats can only see less detail compared to humans and dogs due to the fewer number of cones in their eyes.  The higher amount of cones enables them to see best at a distance of two to three feet away from them

11. Cats have a third eyelid

Another interesting fact about cats is that they have a third eyelid which is not easily noticeable because it can be found between the other eyelids and the cornea. This eyelid provides added protection and also contains a gland at its base that produces extra tears.

12. Cats can see ultraviolet light

Cats may not see color as well as humans do but they can definitely see way more than the visible lights that people are limited to. A 2014 study has revealed that cats, alongside dogs and other mammals, could actually see ultraviolet light which is invisible to the human eye.

While it is still unknown what this ability does for cats, it may explain some odd behaviors or why they are such efficient hunters.

Miranda LaSala
Miranda LaSala

My destination ever since I was born was to be a cat person. When I had the chance, I took the course on Veterinary Tech from Pima Medical Institute, Seattle. For the last 5 years, I've worked as a kennel assistant, veterinary nurse, and a surgical nurse.

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