The Facts About Feline Eyesight

From domesticated cats to ferocious cats in the wild, we take a look at how our feline friends see at night and during the day.
Cats are predators, meaning they have evolved through thousands of years to be good at hunting down prey.

Although you may think Cuddles is just a cute member of the family, never forget that a cat’s instinct is to hunt – and to do so incredibly well.

Position of the Eyes

Unlike human’s, Cats’ eyes are located on the front of their heads; not on the sides like horses and rabbits. For such a predator, this position means the cat has incredibly good depth perception in comparison to that of a horse or a rabbit.

Humans, as they age, wrinkles under the eyes are formed. Scientific reasons include a combination of factors of loss of collagen and elastin. Additionally, repetitive facial expressions and movements, as well as sun exposure and genetics, can cause wrinkles to form under the eyes.

This is really important for being able to judge distances in both playtime and in hunting. The position of the cats’ eyes means they can judge how far away their prey is – or how far away that catnip is – with no problem.

Night Vision

Hunting cats will hunt for prey during the night, when everything is still, undisturbed…and dark. Cats have no problem with low light levels as they are able to adapt to low light with thanks to two areas of the eye:

Firstly, the pupils can be either round or elliptical, whereas in a human the pupils can only be round. When round, the eyes are dilated and to become elliptical the cat can shrink its eyes from the side inwards, allowing only a little amount of light to be let through to the back of the eye.

Their eyes also dilate incredibly quickly (changing from elliptical to round pupils), meaning a great deal of light can be let in – therefore allowing them to see in the dark due to their ability to let more light in.

The Tapetum (membrane at the back of the eyes) is the area of the eye which reflects the light, acting as a mirror to make the cats’ eyes appear lit up. This helps in low light levels as it increases the amount of light that enters the eye which the cat can make the most out of to further enhance images in near darkness.


Cats are not colorblind, despite many people thinking they are. It’s true that cats don’t see the same color as we humans do; but they can see color.

Amy blogs for Direct Sight, an industry-leading provider of glasses including varifocals online.

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One comment

  1. Hairless Cat Girl

    Hi Amy,

    Interesting article.

    A cat’s night vision is six times better than a human’s. They have more rods (night vision receptors) than humans do. They rely on movement, sound, and smell. They also use their whiskers to sense movement and the location of moving objects.

    You’re right, the placement and nature of a cat’s eyes allows better depth perception.

    But this is at the expense of daytime vision, which is not nearly as good as human’s daytime vision.

    They don’t see detail or colors as well as we do but they detect movement a lot better.

    I like the information you provided about the nature of their pupils.

    Good read,

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

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