Can Cats See in the Dark?

Have you ever heard the myth that cats can see in the dark? If so, you’re not alone—many people hear this supposed fact about cats and they believe it. However, the truth is that cats can’t really see in the dark in any meaningful way.

Of course, there’s more to a cat’s vision than just a straight yes or no answer. In this article, you’ll find out more about the way a cat sees and how this affects the cat’s ability to see in low lighting conditions. Read on to learn more. If you have any questions, call Antioch Veterinary Hospital at (925) 7572800.

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How much light does a cat need to see?

Cats don’t need nearly as much light to see as humans do, but they still need some. It’s generally believed that a cat needs about 1/6th the amount of light that a human needs to see when it’s dark. This means that your cat can see in much lower lighting conditions than you can.

Many people believe cats are nocturnal, which is often the reason why they think cats can see in the dark. In fact, cats are crepuscular, which means they are more awake and willing to be active at dusk and dawn than at night or day.

How does a cat’s eyes work in the dark?

In low lighting conditions, a cat’s eyes fully dilate and become very wide and dark. This allows the eyes to let in as much light as possible, and effectively causes the cat to absorb the most light that is available from their surroundings. Additionally, this light bounces off of reflective tissue in the cat’s eyes to transmit it to the retina—which causes their eyes to shine in the darkness.

Cats also have more rods in their eyes than humans do. This makes it easier for them to see in shade and low light, but it also makes it harder for them to see in bright light than humans.

Can cats see far away in the dark?

In short, no. Cats can’t see far away very well at all, actually. They are nearsighted in comparison to humans, and humans can see far away up to 5 times as well as cats can.

However, cats make up for this by being able to see very slight motion and even sense changes in the way shadows move. This ability allows them to hunt their prey in a variety of conditions.

What does a cat’s vision look like?

First of all, cats have much more peripheral vision than humans do. This is because of the way a cat’s eyes are positioned on his head as opposed to the way a human’s eyes are positioned. This extra peripheral vision allows a cat to see 200 degrees instead of the 180 degrees humans can see. They can also pay attention to subtle movements at the edge of their field of vision, as opposed to humans, whose peripheral vision grows slightly weaker and less attentive the further it gets from the line of sight.

It was long believed that cats cannot see color, but this is not true. In fact, they can see some colors, but they can’t really perceive all colors the same way we do. Cats can see blue and green very vividly, and they are good at detecting hues that are made up of blue and green only. However, they cannot see red or pink very well, and they can’t tell the difference between these colors either. Colors in a cat’s vision are not very bold or bright, but instead remain dull, drab, and slightly gray overall.

Cats can’t discern sharp lines between objects as well as humans can. However, they can see the difference between light and shadows much better than humans. Something very angular, such as a busy street with lots of buildings crammed next to each other, would be likely to appear blurry and confusing to a cat. However, a yard with dappled sunlight and small creatures moving around in the bushes or grass would be much clearer to a cat than it would be to a human. This is just one of the many reasons why cats are so adept at hunting the way they do.


Now that you’ve learned a bit more about how your cat sees at night and in dark conditions, you can better understand them overall. Recognizing your cat’s ability to see in the dark makes it easier for you to play with and interact with him, even when there is no lighting in the general area.

If you have any more questions about your cat, consider asking your veterinarian for more information. Your vet should be able to give you plenty of solutions regarding a variety of topics that have to do with your cat and how their body functions. Call us today at (925) 7572800.