Are Cats and Dogs Colour-Blind?

tabby kittenDo cats and dogs see in colour? The short answer is yes. They have both rods and cones in their eyes. Rods enhance night vision while cones enable colour vision. So, contrary to popular belief, cats and dogs are not completely colour-blind.

Researchers have found that cats’ brains respond to colour and that both cats and dogs can recognize various colours. In experiments, cats have been able to tell many different colours apart and distinguish most colours from gray, while dogs have shown a more limited ability to recognize colours.

Dogs are not completely colour-blind because they can see more than just shades of gray, but they perceive colors only in the blue-to-yellow range (the middle of the color spectrum). Cats see a slightly wider range of colours, covering most of the spectrum from violet to blue to green to yellow, but they do not distinguish colour well in the red-to-orange range.

Can Cats See in the Dark?

Cats can’t see in pitch blackness, but they have much better vision than people in semidarkness because:

    • Their eyes are extremely large in relation to the size of their heads.
    • They have proportionally far more light-sensitive rods in their eyes than humans do.
    • Their pupils dilate to let in more light.
    • They have a reflective surface behind their retinas called the tapetum lucidum that enables them to better use any available light.

All of these features give the cat superior night vision.

For more cat articles, see the main Cats page. For more dog articles, see the main Dogs page.

References:

    • Adams, C. The Straight Dope. (May 1, 1987). “Are cats and dogs really color-blind? How do they know?”
    • Cornell University – Ask A Scientist. (22 October 1998). “Cats, dogs can see some color.”
    • Drake, N. (2013). “This is how cats see the world.” Wired.com.
    • Fernandez, C. (2020). “Are dogs color blind?” PetMD.com.
    • Schneck, M., & Caravan, J. (1990). Cat Facts. New York: Barnes & Noble Inc.

One thought on “Are Cats and Dogs Colour-Blind?”

  1. Hihi! How cute. One of my cats used to do this. But then he discovered the tap… whit beettr water than in his waterbowl… Which eventually lead to the part that he was allready in the sink waiting (screaming!) for me to open the tap…

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