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(Last Updated On: November 19, 2021)

The age-old debate: Can cats see color?

There has been an ongoing debate about whether cats AND dogs can see color. Like humans, colors are picked up by nerve cells in the retina of the eyes.

According to studies done by many veterinarians, dogs generally only can see yellow or white, while cats can see some purplish hues and other muted shades but not brighter colors.

Many studies have been done and some vets proclaim cats see only white and yellow like dogs while others claim cats only see blue or gray.

So who is correct or is there even a correct answer?

Honestly, this still needs research we believe

There are cat owners who know darn well their cats only play with bright red toys, white toys, or bright purple and fuchsia toys. We have had many conversations about this.

Cats, however, are more near-sighted than humans, this is proven and cannot discern figures that are over twenty feet away while humans have a range of one hundred feet.

This might explain why some veterinarians feel they do not see a broader range of colors as the colored object must be up closer to them than that of a human.

This near-sightedness also explains other behaviors

Unfortunately, cats do get struck more often than dogs or other animals on highways.

The reasoning will tell us that if their range of sight is only twenty feet, then a car traveling even only 40 mph would be upon them before they notice it. Now cats have eyes also set on the side of their heads and do see better in darkness than light.

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Since they are the descendants of lions, tigers, and other wild cats, this protects them from becoming prey themselves and allows them to hunt at night.  If your cat is a night prowler this is genetic.

You can experiment to “see” what your cat sees

You can draw your own conclusions about what you believe your cat sees.

  • Buy different colored toys and see which ones your cat picks out and at what distance. Buy a brown mouse toy and a white one and we have heard repeated stories about white mice being chosen over the brown.
  • Turn on the television to a show that features other cats, or even better, wild animals. You will generally notice that your cat does not notice the show immediately, but when they hear the yowling and howling the noise will draw them to the television.
  • Once they are immediately in front of it, they will be stock-still usually and entranced. If you watch them closely you will notice that some animals will appeal to them more, and you can gauge which colors they notice by the colors of the animals on the television.

We have yet to have a cat owner mention that baboons attracted cats, but that white tiger, lions, and even colorful birds did.

Male pheasants with all their plumage can fascinate some cats according to cat parents we have spoken with. Baboons and other monkeys are generally brown or black and no one we know has ever said their cat was fascinated by these animals.

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If cats, according to all the studies, do not see colors, why do they for the most part eat red poinsettias at the holidays and purple African violets?

Of course, these are poisonous, but every cat owner can probably tell you that they must keep these out of the cat’s reach.

Since veterinary studies have proven that a cat’s vision is blurry, then the color they see can be muted. Buying a color bed that you love for your cat will make a difference to you but not your cat as they only will care if it is the right size and comfort level. Paying extra for a color that is not on sale is only wasting your money.

Intertwine white yarn with red yarn, and other colors, and to “see” what your cat sees will be obvious by their choice of which yarn combinations they prefer to play with.

Cats do live in a world of color just like us

While not exactly as colorful maybe as our world, it is still colorful, and studies are still ongoing on the types and spectrum of colors cats see.

Many studies will stick to the theory that cats only see yellow and white, yet as pet parents, you have probably, like us, experienced more of a variety of color sight in your puss.

Many humans are colorblind to certain colors themselves and relatively no studies have been done on this phenomenon in cats.

So, if you notice your cat reacting to bright reds, bright purples, or white especially, throw the studies out the window. You live with your cat, and you know what you are experiencing. Enrich their lives and yours by purchasing toys and accessories in what YOU, the pet parent know works for your clever feline.