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Can cats see in the dark?

Do you turn out all of the lights before you leave the house? You may be saving energy, but you’re literally plunging your cat into a lonely darkness! Let us “shed some light” on how well and what exactly cats are able to see.

Can cats see in the dark?

Yes and no. While it’s true that cats have better night vision than humans, they cannot see in total darkness. The reason being is that the tapetum lucidum, which is responsible for that otherworldly green glow in your kitty’s pupils, only works by magnifying what visible light is available. That means that cats can see much better than humans in low light, but they cannot see at all in complete darkness. So the next time you think about leaving your kitty in the dark, consider plugging in a little night light.

Is that why cats have slit pupils?

Again, yes and no. Having a slit, vertical pupil means that ambush predators like cats, snakes, and foxes are able to pull their pupils open much larger than creatures with circular or rectangular ones. This does let in more light. However, the slit pupil also maximizes the efficiency of seeing both vertical lines and increasing the blurriness in front of and behind an object. That means their brains are able to more accurately able to gauge the depth of an object without having to move.

How well can cats see?

Cats have many advantages over humans when it comes to vision, such as having more rod cells to help them dectect light. However, cats have fewer cone cells, which mean they see less vivid color. Cats also tend to be more nearsighted than humans, and can’t see under their muzzles at all! That explains why they can never seem to see the treat that you’re pointing at directly under their noses.

Do you leave a light on for your cat when you leave? Don’t forget to show your pet sitter how to turn on the lights in your home to make it a more “illuminating” visit for your sitter and your kitty. Give us a call today to be paired with one of our personable pet sitters.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Thomas Euler on flickr

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