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Cat Tips

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Insights into Your Cat's Eyesight

By Marcella Durand

Insights into Your Cat\'s Eyesight

The next time you catch your cat staring at you with its big, luminous eyes, try this: Blink at kitty very slowly. There's a good chance your cat will blink right back.

Many feline fanciers suspect that cats communicate with their eyes. And animal shelter workers will swear that if you blink slowly at even a feral cat, the animal often calms down. Cats also use their eyes to intimidate prey and even each other, as a way of establishing dominance.

And for their size, this animal has a lot of eye to work with. If our eyes were as big as those of any cat, in terms of their largeness per head size, our eyes would be eight inches long, each. Even more, a cat's eyes also bulge slightly, giving them excellent peripheral vision.

You may have noticed that, while you stumble around in the dark looking for the light switch, your cat is calmly navigating its way around the furniture. You may have also noticed that sometimes in a dim room, your cat's eyes will glow eerily. As nocturnal predators, cats have developed excellent night vision. Cats have vertical irises, which can narrow to the tiniest sliver in bright light or open to cover 90 percent of their eye area, enabling the pupil to capture even the smallest amount of light. In addition, a cat has a shiny membrane in the back of the eyes called the "tapetum lucidum," which helps to reflect light back through the retina, enabling the animal to see better in low light situations. That said, there is a limit: cats still can't see in total darkness.

As anyone knows who has watched a bug try to get across the floor and not get pounced on by the cat, this animal is acutely attuned to movement. In our own eyes, rods react to intensities of light, while cones react to color. A cat's eyes have more rods and fewer cones than ours do. This means that while we have better color vision, a cat can detect motion better. But all that sensitivity to motion comes at a price: Cats don't actually see close objects very well. After all, what's the advantage of seeing the mouse once it's in your paws?

Cats also have a third eyelid to protect their eyes as they stalk prey through grass and underbrush. Called the "nictitating membrane," this eyelid rests at the inside corner of the eye. If a feline's eyes are inflamed or irritated, you may see this membrane start to protrude. If a cat is seriously ill or debilitated, the membrane will partially cover the eye (and that's a definite signal to take your pet to your veterinarian).

While it's not completely certain what colors your cat is able to see, there's no doubt that the color of a cat's eyes are simply beautiful -- copper, gold, green, orange, yellow, blue, and lavender. Many cat owners say they chose their cat because of its eye color. Given the power of the cat's eyes, perhaps they were happily mesmerized.


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Posted on February 8, 2008

Pat says: I have the same biting problem with my 2 year old cat, Kiki, and she is very gentle when she does it most times. She's usally sweet, and gums, kneeds,and purss and rubs on me, but she can get very moody. She has gave me only a couple scars. She loves my dog, but sometimes she will bite me and take it out on my dog by nipping his nose. He doesnt mind, but still...... Shes really very sweet, but how do I stop her biting? She's declawed and spayed, so I figure that's her protection, but she loves me and my mom and dog, so why does she bite us so often?

Posted on March 3, 2008

Jaenette Satherlund says: I have two lovely cats one male and one female. They are both from the same litter. The kittens are now 9 months old. The boy seams fine, but the girl seams never to land on her feet. She is clumsy for a cat, she always miss judge distances and fall on her side rather then her feet. And if you play with her in dim light she never sesame to have a sense of where the toy lands. Dose my cat have bad eyesight or is she ill? What can I do to help her? Kind regards Jaenette

Posted on May 7, 2008

max says: do cats see images or reflections in mirrors?

Posted on October 31, 2008

Luis says: I have a small female kitty, she is quite friendly most times, but sometimes she gets quite restless, i suspect that her attitude is when there are flies in the air, she meows to them, it seems that she doesnt sees very well, and i was geting a bit upset about it, but from the internet articles i've read it seems normal as they see better movment than still images and better at night than during daytime, she has some failed jumps also, other than that she is a healthy kitten, although she bites a bit if i let her, i can most times distract her and stop her from continuing, or use some stronger clothing to lessen the bitting effect, but i also suspect that is a growing process for their teeth... Her main stimulae seems to be sound, with loud sounds she gets very frighten, so i try to reduce loud noises. Giving her some toys was quite usefull for her to play. She sees herself in the mirror, but doesnt recognise herself in it, thinks it is a different being, i cant tell if she knows it is a cat she sees. She likes to play with te mouse cursor on the computer monitor. Best wishes to all cat owners, and respective cats

Posted on June 8, 2009

mia says: i enjoyed your artical and was reading some of the postings. it seems there are many people with the same questions. it is wonderful that you e-mail responses to each person, but it would be great if the answers weere posted so everyone can read!

Posted on February 28, 2010

shelly allen says: I have had this cat for 14 yrs and I think she is going blind she acts like she can't see her food and she walks into stuff most of the time she does everything by smell I can put a treat right in front of her and she moves her head around in search for the treat I know that's not normal because I have 5 more cats what I want to know is there anything we can do?

Posted on March 11, 2010

Hannah says: I am madly in love with my cat!!!

Posted on March 18, 2010

Hannah says: Hi, it's Hannah again. The cat that I love is named Bobbi. She's a female grey cat with white socks. She sleeps with me at night and-as you all know-I LOVE MY BOBBI!!!!! I'm suprised that loving your pets can be seen as fanatical by some. Peace out,fellow cat lovers!!!!

Posted on March 18, 2010

Hannah says: I really like this site!! It's reliable and detailed. I hope it never changes!!! :-) Max, I do believe cats can see mirror images. (To everyone=have you hugged your cat today?)

Posted on March 26, 2010

Hannah (the loner) says: Don't leave me hanging here! PLEEEEEEEEEEASE respond! I want to tell you bloggers about my other cat, Coco!!!!! Iwant to ask advice! To give advice! Talk! Respond! Discuss!

Posted on June 18, 2010

ariel says: I'm so excited!!!! i got a cat that is white with 2 brown spots and a brown tail. His name is carets since my mom's friend found a liter of kittens in her backyard without a mom and gave him that temporarily name. She selled them all for free and had 2 left a girl and carets. The girl died :( but was beautiful.

Posted on August 5, 2010

Kelby Weston says: I have a 3 year old cat named Major, he's all black with a little white line on his stomach and chest and he has a confusing personality, when we first got him he was the ugliest little black cat with a tail longer than his body and he would bite and scratch at any movement. As he got older he became more calm, and less playful. At first I enjoyed not rubbing myself with neosporin every day but now he just trots around like the king of the world. He doesn't like to play, he has left his toys alone, even when I try to start a play fight he casually looks at me like I am crazy and lays down. I want my energetic little man back. What do I do?

Posted on October 10, 2007

Sharon Kopplin says: After reading the other 5 reading comments, I am not the only one with a cat that bites. My cat will bite me in the middle of the night and run off to hide. I usually come after him with a spray bottle. Why does he do this? He has cause some serious bruising and open wounds on my arms and legs. HELP!! Thank you!

Posted on October 10, 2007

Lee says: Read misbehaving bully and then please tell me what your answer was. I have the same problem, but the male is trying to be nice to our female. He has been neutered, about age two, and she was spayed as a kitten. They have not hurt each other, but get downright down and nasty. Is there something I can do so I don't have to put him to sleep? She was here first. He is still a bit feral. Sometimes I come home and they are both sleeping on different chairs in the living room. What's going on? Lee

Posted on October 8, 2007

Deanna says: I adopted my kitten 9 Mo. ago. She is very wishy washy,She will attack me one minute then she will be very loving the next. She runs around the house very fast until she is panting.But what concerns me the most is her temper,she is getting bigger&stronger therefor her bites hurt more. I want to know how to stop this behavior now before she hurts me, I am the only one she attacks but I'm the only one she loves&lays on.

Posted on October 9, 2007

Maryann Santana says: I have two 5 month old kitties samson and delilah. Delilah is a sweetheart, behaves well and doesnt bite. Samson is the complete opposite. He jumps on top of the counters, rips the garbage bag, eats whatever food he finds on the counters, bites, and just gets into everything. I have tried everything spraying him with water, locking him up in the bathroom while I cook and when it's time to feed them(he jumps on me or the counter to get to the food)I don't want to give him up, but he's becoming to much trouble. He's been nuetered and declawed to keep him from scratching the kids, the rugs, and the furniture. Please help delilah from becoming a lonely kitty.

Posted on September 20, 2007

judy says: I adopted an 11 month old neutered male about 4 months ago. He terrorizes and attacks my 7 yr old female continually. He has awakens me every morning between 5:00 & 5:30 am. He often meows and meows and constantly needs attention. He stops eating his own food to eat the other cat's food. I have had to keep my female in the bedroom to eat and have time where she is not being attacked. I have used a spray bottle of water to deter Luke, the bully, but he only reacts temporarily. He will continue time after time with his bad behavior and bites the other cat and sometimes myself as well. I do not want to give him away but I am suffering from sleep deprivation and my other cat is very unhappy. I need some advice please. Thank you.

Posted on September 22, 2007

lynn says: I have taken in a stray over 9 months old. I have had him for about 6 months. He is a very good cat however recently he has shown signs of aggression. He is very attached to my boyfriend he always wants to lay by his head when we go to bed he kneels at his hair and licks his hair but lately he goes to attack me if I attempt to roll over by him he meows a deep belly meow and goes to bite me. I have no intention of getting rid of him I just want to know how to change this odd behavior. Could you please give me some advice?

Posted on October 4, 2007

Angelic Livingston says: I am 20 years old. I have a 15 year old Tabby cat Tigger. She is the love of my life,she stays right by my side. She knows when I am happy, sick, hurt,sad or angry and adjust to the situation. She comforts me in sad or angry moods and joins my in happy moods. She never fails to use the litter box. I have moved three times and if I try to leave her home with my mom she gets sick form depression. She must see me everyday or she is sad and waits for me at the door. Friends and boyfriends have come and gone but she never leaves even if I try to push her away she only tries harder to be with me. I make her day by just calling her name. Her eyes light up and she lets out a happy moew when I say Tigger. I snap my fingers and she comes to me. She will obey like a dog if I say sit,lay,come and jump she does with only a snaping of the fingers. Really I couldn't ask for a better cat. my heart brakes everyday because she is sick right now. I have already spent $600 and over a month trying to make he better. Eventhough she shows improvement she is still sick. I don't care if I have to spend everything I have to make her better I will. My fear is that money and time wil not cure her. She is a very old cat and I am afraid that maybe her time is comming to leave me. I will never stop trying and hopefully she is just sick. Please pray for Tiggers health. Thank you

Posted on June 27, 2011

Linda Straufe says: My cats eyes are dilated all the time. I don't think she can see very well if at all.

Posted on May 22, 2012

gina says: i have two cats. sometimes the tom will love all my queen, and she will not like it. at other times she loves the tomcat. but my tomcat was neutered a month ago and my queen was spayed, and the tom still acts like he is not neutered. he fight with other cats, he sprays, and he shows so much interest in my queen that it gets a little worrisome.

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