what colors can cats see

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Have you ever wondered how your cat sees the world? Cats can see colors, but in a very different way than humans. Their color vision is not as wide as ours, making their view unique and worth exploring.

Cats see the blues and yellows best. Colors like red and green look gray to them. This is because they have fewer color cells in their eyes than we do. Yet, their extra rod cells help them see well in the dark.

Key Takeaways

  • Cats can see colors, but not as many as humans.
  • They see blue and yellow best, while red and green look gray.
  • Cats have two types of cone cells, humans have three.
  • Cats can see well at night because of extra rod cells.
  • Cat eyes are great for hunting because they detect motion well and have good peripheral vision.

Understanding Cat Color Vision

To know how cats see colors, we must look at their special eyes. These eyes have rods for seeing in dim light and cones for detecting color vision. The structure of the cat eye plays a big role in their color perception.

How Feline Eyes Perceive Color

Cats and humans see colors very differently. Feline vision is limited because they lack a third cone type. This third cone is what lets humans see a broad range of colors.

Comparing Human and Cat Color Receptors

When it comes to seeing colors, humans are more advanced. We have three cones that detect different colors. Plus, we have many more cone cells than cats do. This means we see a lot more colors than our cat friends.

Vision Attribute Humans Cats
Types of Cones 3 2
Cone Cell Density High Low
Color Perception Broad spectrum Limited hues

Studying cat and human eye structures sheds light on color vision. Even though cats see fewer colors than we do, they make the most of it. Their eyes have evolved for hunting, and this has shaped their color vision too.

The Spectrum of Colors Visible to Cats

Colors visible to cats offer an interesting study. Understanding a feline color spectrum helps create the best environment for them. Cats see less color than us. This is because their eyes work differently.

Shades of Blue, Green, and Yellow

Research shows that cats have cones for seeing blue, green, and greenish-blue. These cones are most sensitive to light at 450, 500, and 550 nanometers. This means they can see and tell apart shades of blue, green, and yellow.

Inability to Perceive Red and Orange

Despite their unique vision, cats can’t see red-orange colors. Imagine seeing everything as if it’s grayscale when looking at reds or oranges. It’s like how some humans can’t fully see the reds and greens around them.

Interestingly, cats have fewer cones in their eyes than us. They have about one-tenth. Due to this, they experience a form of cat color blindness. For us, the world appears in a wider array of colors, more vibrant and lively.

Visual Characteristic Cats Humans
Number of Cone Types 2 3
Perception of Blue-Violet Hues Excellent Good
Perception of Yellow-Green Hues Good Excellent
Perception of Red-Orange Hues None Excellent

Cats’ unique sight, while different, suits their lifestyle. Their vision helps them hunt, especially in dim light. So, while they might not enjoy a full rainbow, their eyesight is perfect for what they need.

What Colors Do Cats See?

Have you ever wondered what colors cats can see? Well, the world looks different through a cat’s eyes. They see blue, green, and yellow shades mainly. This is because cats have a different way of seeing. Their eyes are all about hunting, not admiring rainbows.

The Feline Color Palette

Cats notice shades of blue, green, and yellow differently than humans. They don’t see the world as colorful. This happens because their eyes work in a unique way. Cats have cones in their eyes that highlight only some colors. Compared to us, they are missing cones for seeing a full range of colors.

feline color perception

Muted Hues and Limited Saturation

Even if cats can spot a color, it looks faded to them. Reds, for example, might appear as if they were greens. And bright purples? They might not stand out much, maybe just another shade of blue. Their eyes are just made differently.

This doesn’t mean your cat can’t enjoy certain colors. Their eyesight, although not like ours, is perfect for sneaking up on prey. In the dim light, they see what they need to catch their next meal.

Why Can’t Cats See Red?

Feline color perception is quite interesting. Cats can’t see red like we can. Humans have eyes that can pick up red light. But cats lack special cones for this.

Lack of Red Light-Sensitive Cones

Cats see fewer colors than we do. They have two types of cones, while we have three. Their cones help them see shades of blue-violet and yellow-green, but not red. This is why they miss out on red in their world.

This means cats see red differently. They might see it as gray or green. But this doesn’t stop them from hunting well. Seeing movement and in dim light is more vital for cats.

Human Vision Feline Vision
Three types of cones Two types of cones
Can perceive red, green, and blue wavelengths Can perceive blue-violet and yellow-green wavelengths
Wider color spectrum Limited cat sight colors

Not seeing red might seem bad. But, for cats, it is part of being great hunters. Their eyes are perfect for spotting prey, even in the dark. They can tell the slightest shades of blue, green, and yellow apart. This helps them survive out in the wild.

Distinguishing Shades of Blue and Green

Cats can see fewer colors than us, but they can tell some blues apart well. Cat color sensitivity is not as good with various greens. They may find it hard to see differences in shades of green clearly.

Blurred Boundaries Between Hues

It’s still a mystery how many types of green cat sight colors pick up. Most think cats see greens that are faded and dull. The lines between these green shades might look fuzzy to them. Their eyes act like those of a color-blind person, focusing on blue, yellow, and washed-out green.

feline color spectrum

Cats have trouble with some green shades. It’s because their eyes spot more blue and greenish-yellow. This happens because of the specific cones in their eyes that find colors.

Color Visible to Cats Likely Perception
Blue Yes Can distinguish shades well
Green Muted shades Blurred boundaries between hues
Yellow Yes Perceive greenish-yellow tones
Red No Unable to see red colors

This means your cat can see some colors in the feline color spectrum. But, they might not see different greens as clearly as you do.

How a Cat’s Vision Differs from Humans

Cats see colors differently than humans. They might not see all the colors we do, but they see really well in the dark. Even though they’re not good at seeing far, what they lack in distance they make up for in other ways.

Superior Night Vision

One special thing about cat vision is their ability to see well at night. Thanks to more rod cells in their eyes, cats see six times better than us when it’s dark. And that glowing in their eyes? It’s because of a shiny layer on their eyes, the tapetum lucidum.

Wider Field of View

Cats see a lot around them without turning their heads much. Their eyes are on the sides of their heads. This gives them a bigger view than we have. It’s great for spotting danger or prey from afar.

Enhanced Motion Detection

Movements don’t escape a cat’s notice. They’re very good at sensing even the smallest motion. This ability, along with their vision for certain colors visible to cats, helps them be expert hunters. They can see well and track down what they need to survive.


Visual Ability Cats
Night Vision Superior, aided by high rod cell density and tapetum lucidum Limited by lower rod cell count
Peripheral Vision Wider field of view due to eye positioning Narrower field of view
Motion Detection Exceptional, facilitated by high rod cell concentration Less sensitive to subtle movements

While cats see the world differently, their vision is perfectly suited for their needs. It helps them hunt and stay safe in the wild.

The Impact of Color Vision on Feline Behavior

A cat’s cat color vision capabilities are key in how they act. They see a variety of colors but use their ability to see movement and in the dark more. This special skill helps them find food and stay safe.

Reliance on Movement and Dim Light

Cats see well in the dark because they have lots of rod cells in their eyes. This makes them great hunters under low-light conditions. They are very good at noticing even the tiniest movements, which is important for their survival. So, their color vision is not as important as their ability to spot movement.

cat color sensitivity

Toy and Enrichment Preferences

When picking toys for your cat, think about their cat color sensitivity. Choose toys in yellow and blue shades because they can see these colors best. Toys that are interactive and mimic hunting are better than colorful but dull toys. These toys help with their natural hunting skills more.

Cats tend to rely more on their enhanced ability to detect movement, as well as see in dim lighting, rather than their color vision.

If you understand your cat’s vision, you can make their environment better for them. This can improve their joy and health.

Evolutionary Adaptations for Hunting

Cats are expert hunters thanks to their unique vision. They see best at night. This is because they have more rod cells in their eyes than cone cells.

Their vision is also improved by a layer behind the retina called the tapetum lucidum. It reflects light, helping cats see better in the dark. These adaptations make them ideal for hunting in low light.

Night Vision for Nocturnal Hunting

Cat vision stands out especially at night. They are very good at detecting light changes. Cats have excellent night eyesight, allowing them to catch their prey in darkness.

The tapetum lucidum helps with this by bouncing light back onto the retina. This way, cats can make the most of any little light that’s out there.

Motion Detection for Prey Tracking

Cats are amazing at spotting movement. This is critical for hunting. They can see things clearly that are far away and moving. Their focus on motion makes them top hunters.

Cats also see a lot more around them than we do. They can see up to 130 degrees without moving their head. This helps them notice prey trying to sneak by.

Visual Adaptation Hunting Benefit
Higher density of rod cells Enhanced night vision for nocturnal hunting
Tapetum lucidum Reflects light onto the retina, improving low-light visibility
Prioritized motion detection Tracking and capturing prey effectively
Wider field of view Increased awareness of movement in the periphery

These vision adaptations let cats hunt very well. They make cats great hunters in the dark, where their prey often hides.


Yes, cats can see some colors, but they don’t see the world like we do. Their color vision is mostly blue, yellow, and green. This is because they lack certain cones in their eyes. These cones help us see a wide range of colors. But, don’t worry. Cats have cool abilities to make up for it.

Cats can’t see as many colors as we can. They only see about 10,000 colors, while we see millions. This is because they have fewer color receptors in their eyes. As a result, they find it hard to see red, orange, and brown colors.

But, cats are great at seeing at night and noticing movements. They have more rod cells in their eyes, which makes them good hunters. Also, cats have a wider view than us. This means they can see more to the sides without moving their heads. By knowing this, we can make their environment better suited for them.


What colors can cats see?

Cats see colors differently than we do. They see blues and yellows well. Other colors, like red and green, look more gray to them.

How do cat and human color vision compare?

Humans see more colors because of the extra type of cone cells in our eyes. This helps us see a wider range of colors.

What shades of color can cats distinguish?

Cats can see some shades of blue, green, and yellow. But, they can’t see reds, oranges, or browns very well.

Do cats see colors as vividly as humans?

Cats don’t see colors as clearly as we do. The colors they see are not as vibrant. This makes their world look less colorful to them.

Why can’t cats see the color red?

Cats lack the cones needed to see red light. So, they can’t see the color red like we can.

Can cats distinguish between different shades of green?

It’s not clear if cats truly see green. They might not see different shades of green like humans can due to their vision type.

How else does a cat’s vision differ from humans?

Cats see better up close, and they have excellent side vision. They also detect motion well in low light, helping them hunt at night.

How does a cat’s color vision impact behavior?

Color isn’t critical for cats, thanks to their great night vision and motion detection. They’re more into toys that move than brightly colored ones.

Why have cats evolved enhanced vision capabilities?

Cats’ eyes have evolved for hunting at night. Their vision helps them spot prey and stay safe in the dark.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *