In an attempt to understand what the world looks like from our feline friends’ point of view (literally), artist Nickolay Lamm decided to create a set of simulations to show us exactly how a cat’s visual ability affects the way it sees its surroundings.
After consulting several veterinarian ophthalmologists and conducting his own research, the artist ended up with some stunning photographic comparisons. You can see his photos here.
He found out that photoreceptors were the main cause of this difference in view. These are specialised cells that contain pigments that absorb light, and there are two types of receptors: cones and rods. Cones work in bright light and are more sensitive to colours, while rods are what enable us to see in dim light. Humans have more cones while cats have more rods, and here’s how this has resulted in Puss’s vision being worlds apart from ours.
Our retinas (light-sensitive layers of tissue) have more cones than that of cats, which gives us fantastic daytime vision, where we are able to see vibrant hues in excellent clarity. In comparison, cats see in duller colours as well as in a lower resolution than us in the day. This greater number of rods, however, gives them the ability to see around six to eight times better than us in the dark.
Field Of Vision
The rods also grant Puss a visual field of 200 degrees, as compared to a human’s 180-degree field of vision. Their peripheral vision beats ours again, where they have a peripheral vision of 30 degrees on each side while ours is 20 degrees each. Nickolay illustrates this by the blurred sides of each picture.
A feline’s eyes have a faster “refresh rate” than ours, which means that we see movement ten times slower than cats. That’s why they are able to fixate on things that our eyes have trouble keeping up with, for example, flies. In fact, something that is moving slowly to us may not even be moving in Puss’s eyes.
Their eyes are also more sensitive to movement, which makes it easy for them to spot, say, a tiny mouse scampering away in the corner of the house.
* This article was been updated on 7 July 2020. It first appeared in Pets Magazine, 27 March 2017.