Uniqueness of a Cat’s Eyes
It has been said that eyes are the window to the soul. When gazing into the eyes of a cat, you get the feeling that the statement is very real. But there is more to a cat’s eyes. A cat’s eyes have some unique features that are different than humans. The best known is a cat’s ability to see at night.
The eyes face forward on a cat improving their depth perception but limit their field of view. The cat has a vision of 20/100 enabling it to see far away but not up close. A cat’s central vision is not as sharp as a humans because of the eye’s construction. A cat cannot see directly below its’ nose. A cat can see colors and distinguish between the colors especially the blues and violets. A cat’s ability to see colors is limited as compared to humans.
The color of a cat’s eyes varies but orange, green and golden are the most common. Blue eyes are associated with Siamese cats. There is a misconception that all white cats with blue eyes are deaf. A white cat with one blue eye and one of another color has a higher risk of deafness on the blue eye side.
The pupils of the eyes should be the same size. The pupils of a cat’s eyes are vertical and much larger than a human. If the size of the pupils differ, this can be an indication of possible harmful conditions: inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis), Horner’s syndrome, FeLV, tumors and central nervous system injury. A cat can have other conditions including cataracts and glaucoma. If not treated, high veterinarian expenses and even blindness can occur.
A cat has an inner, third eyelid called a nictating membrane to protect the cat from dryness and/or damage. A cat does not have to blink it’s eyes like humans to lubricate them. If the third eyelid is partially closed and a cat is not sleeping, this may indicate a cat is sick.
A cat has much better night vision than a human. Although the cat cannot see in total darkness, the cat only needs one-sixth of the illumination required by a human. The muscles of the iris narrow the eye to a slit in bright light and fully open in dim light. A reflective layer behind the cat’s retina called the tapeturn reflects the incoming light and bounces it back amplifying the light. In daylight, this amplification is too strong. A cat’s eyes will narrow to a slit-like condition to minimize the light to improve it’s ability to see in the daytime.
A cat will express it’s mood with it’s eyes. An angry cat will have narrowed pupils. An excited or frightened cat’s eyes will be wide open. A happy cat’s eyes may appear a shade darker. A cat will kiss with it’s eyes by gazing at you and then blinking it’s eyes.
The uniqueness of a cat’s eye has long been recognized by many people. Many rare gems have been referred to as a cat’s eye. Even in the game of marbles, it was something special to have a marble that resembled a cat’s eye.