Can cats see in the dark? Do cats have night vision? – USA TODAY


Cats have an air of mystery surrounding them despite ranking second in the list of most- owned household pets in the country. Myths about cats having nine lives and being able to see in the dark have been floating around for ages; yet, people still aren’t entirely sure about these mystical beings. Cat memes with red lasers shooting out of their eyes circulating the internet do not help.
According to the National Geographic, cats may have been first domesticated as early as 4,000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians. Here’s what you need to know about cat vision in the dark, learned in the years of making cats our adorable housemates.
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While cats can see up to six times better than an average human in the dark according to veterinarian Gary Weitzman in an interview with National Geographic, cats don’t exactly have night vision. The natural hunting instinct in cats allows them to see in very low light for all night adventures but in the case of absolute darkness, cats cannot see.
Cats are crepuscular animals, meaning they’re active during the twilight hours like dusk and dawn. To aid their activity during these times, cats have the ability to see in low light but not total darkness along with other predatory traits like acute hearing and strong agility.
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As a cat owner, it’s reasonable to worry about your fuzzy feline, particularly at night when you might not be at the immediate disposal of your cat. As long as your cat’s not in absolute darkness – meaning no sliver of light including moonlight or streetlights – your cat can see better than their owners in low light.
According to Purina, a cat’s eyes turn to slits during the day to allow less light into their vision while the pupils expand into a saucer-like state during the night to allow more light. This lets them see better at varying levels of light at a wider range than humans.
Unless it’s absolute darkness, cats can figure out their owner in low light settings by their silhouette. Although, the minor details might be blurry, cats can recognize their owners in the dark.
However, cats are near-sighted which means they can’t focus on distant objects as clearly as humans. So, the light might not be an issue at all.
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According to John Bradshaw, a cat-behavior expert who spoke to National Geographic, cats behave toward humans in a way that’s “indistinguishable” from how they would act toward other cats. So, while cats might not exactly “see” humans as cats, experts say they treat humans similarly to their own species.

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