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How Well Can Cats See In The Dark?

  • Post category:General Facts / Health
  • Post last modified:March 3, 2020
  • Reading time:5 mins read
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Have you wondered if cats have a superior ability to see in the dark? After all, cats are nocturnal aren’t they? No, actually, they are not.

Contrary to popular belief, cats are not really nocturnal creatures after all. Instead, they are known as what is called crepuscular. What this essentially means is that cats are most active during dusk and dawn, but not the time in between. 

Creatures who are the most active between dusk and dawn hours are what is referred to as nocturnal. On a basic scientific level, cats are not nocturnal animals as popular opinion would have you believe.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. You may be thinking, “but my cat runs around the house like a madman at three in the morning.” I would be willing to bet, however, that they don’t continue running around the house all night. They sleep off and on throughout the day.

So this brings us back to our original question which is how well can cats actually see in the dark? This answer to this question may surprise you.

Can Cats See In a Pitch Black Room?

Cats have excellent vision compared to their human counterparts. According to LiveScience, a cat’s eyes have six to eight more rod cells than humans do. These cells are also much more sensitive to low levels of light.

This does not mean, however, that cats can see perfectly in a pitch dark room. Can they see a lot better than humans? Yes, this is certainly found to be true.

Have you ever noticed that ghostly glow coming from your cat’s eyes at night? This is caused by the tapetum lucidum, which only works when there is at least a little light present. 

In a situation of a pitch black room with absolutely no light, cats do not have superior vision in this particular scenario.

Can Cats See In the Dark Better Than Dogs?

Because dogs have larger pupils than humans, they can see in the dark much better than we can. However, the same cannot be said in the cat vs dog situation. 

It has been proven that cats can see much better than dogs when it comes to nighttime vision. Cats can see in light that is six times dimmer than what the human eye can capture. Dogs, on the other hand, can only see in light that is five times dimmer than what we can see.

How Far Can Cats See In The Dark?

Cats have a much larger view of the world than we do. Perhaps it is this reason that cats can see much further than we can. For example, we can see as much as 180 degrees with our peripheral vision. 

Cats, however, have 200 degrees of sight with their peripheral vision. So this goes without saying, that cats can, in fact, see much farther in the dark than we can.

The best way to think of this is to compare it to using a wide angle camera lens to take a photograph. When using this type of lens, you’re going to have a much wider view of whatever it is you are trying to take a picture of. 

Can Kittens See In the Dark?

Kittens have the same type of genetic makeup as adult cats do, so kittens can generally see better in the dark than we can. But when a kitten is pretty young, they tend to have poor vision, because they’re still growing and adapting to their new environment.

blind kitten

As the kittens grow up, though, they start taking on the same general traits that the adult cats do with their peripheral vision. This, in a sense, can be compared to that of a human baby’s early stages of vision.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, cats have far superior vision when it comes to seeing during the dark than us humans do. In fact, scientific studies have shown that cats can even see better in the dark than dogs. This is a fact that many people might find rather surprising.

Cats can also see much further in the dark than we can. And this can all be credited to the amount of peripheral vision that is in their genes.