Can Cats See Infrared?

Can Cats See Infrared?

Many cat owners feel that their cats can see objects that are invisible to them. Cats have an interesting vision and it is normal to have questions. Even though human beings cannot see infrared light, it is visible to some animals.

Can cats see infrared? No, they cannot. Even though your cat may see things that aren’t visible to you, especially at night, they don’t have an infrared vision. Warm-blooded animals can’t see infrared since their bodies release heat naturally. However, certain cool-blooded animals may have the ability. Vision depends on an animal’s ability to detect electromagnetic radiation.

The light that humans can see is only one of the many types that exist. Infrared light was first discovered in the 19th century. It is a type of light that humans cannot see.

Can cats see infrared?

No, however, it is visible to some other animals. If you are curious about your cat’s ability to see infrared and how they see the world, keep reading to learn more.

The human eye can detect visible light. This refers to the mid-range electromagnetic wavelengths. It ranges from 400 to 700 nanometers. Animals with infrared vision can see wavelengths that are longer. Can your cat see an infrared vision?

If you are a cat owner, you have probably noticed that your furry friend can easily detect such things as warm spots on the bed.

Animals such as snakes and some insects can see infrared radiation. Snakes, for example, have pits on their heads that promote infrared vision.

They can sense the body heat of prey making the hunting process easier. Since cats are warm-blooded, they are unlikely to see infrared.

If your cat has an uncanny ability to find warm spots on eth bed, it is because their skins have sensitive heat receptors.

Cats can detect pools of sunlight long before you do. They can detect ultraviolet radiation. Some insects, reptiles, and fish are known to have the same ability.

As humans, we cannot see ultraviolet light. Our eye lenses filter it out. It may be possible to see in ultraviolet if you get surgery to remove your eye lenses. However, exposure to ultraviolet light may cause damage to the eye.

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The eyes of cats don’t have lenses to filter out ultraviolet light. Their vision is more clear and detailed than ours. Their high visual detail may be the answer to why they see a lot more than you do.

If you are concerned about the general vision of your cat, you can test it at home. For a home test, you need a feather or some cotton and a penlight. Start by moving your hands towards their eyes. They should respond by blinking or looking the other way. If there is no response, your cat’s vision may be degenerating.

Use your penlight to shine some light into their eye and observe. Their pupil should constrict and the cat should either turn away or blink.

You can also test your cat’s visibility using a feather or piece of cotton. Drop it slowly to the ground and watch. If your cat has a good vision, it should watch the piece of cotton or feather as it falls. If you have any concerns about your cat’s vision, visit a vet as soon as possible.

What Animals Can See Infrared?

Many cold-blooded animals can see infrared light. Some of them include the following;

  • Snakes

Snakes have an infrared vision that is often referred to as the sixth sense. Snakes such as pythons and rattlesnakes have receptors that make it possible to see infrared in the dark.

  • Frogs

There are many types of frogs and some of them may have an infrared vision. Bullfrogs, for example, can see infrared light even under the water surface.

They have an enzyme that facilitates infrared vision. The vision depends on eth environment. Note that some frogs may not have an infrared vision.

  • Fish

Salmon, goldfish, and piranha are some types of fish with infrared vision. Salmon can switch systems to activate infrared sight where necessary.

The vision makes it possible to navigate the waters while hunting. Goldfish have a heightened sense of sight. They can see both ultraviolet and infrared light.

  • Blood-Sucking Insects

Mosquitoes, bedbugs, and other insects may have an infrared vision. They depend on it to feed. They use that ability to detect body heat. They use the heat signature of CO2 produced by animals to find their prey.

  • Vampire Bats
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Vampire bats use infrared vision to hunt. They have a nerve channel that is sensitive to heat. They use it to detect infrared radiation produced by warm-blooded prey. Infrared vision allows them to identify parts where the veins of their prey are close to the body surface.

Even though some animals have infrared vision, humans generally see more colour than most animals. You can see a lot more colour than your cat or any other pets such as dogs. Cats can see two colours.

How do Cats See the World

When your cat seems excited about shiny objects, you probably wonder what exactly they are seeing. Cats like to jump around and hunt and it is mostly because of their unique vision. They see the world a lot differently than humans.

The field of view for cats is about 200 degrees. It is wider than that of human beings. Their wide peripheral view makes it easy to hunt.

They have excellent night vision because they are more active at night than during the day. Their eyes are more sensitive to light than human beings’ because they have up to eight times more rode cells.

Their eyes have an elliptical shape and big corneas. The tapetum is a tissue layer that reflects light to the retina making it possible to gather light to the eye.

The rod cells promote motion-sensing abilities in the dark. It is why cats can hunt in the dark.

Even though the vision of cats is interesting, they have a problem with colours. Their retinas have 10 times fewer cones than human eyes. This reduces their ability to see well under bright lights.

Like human beings, cats have three types of cones. However, the distribution and number vary. Cats can’t see the full range of colours like humans.

According to experts, the colour vision of cats is limited to just blue and grey. Their resolution is much lower and they don’t see colours with as much vibrancy as humans.

Cats can’t see objects that are more than 20 feet away. Their eyes cannot change the shape of their eye lenses.

When an object is moving slowly, your cat may see it as stationary. Even though they have great hunting skills, cats don’t have perfect vision.

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Why do Cats Chase Laser Pointers?

Most cat owners have attempted to flash a laser pointer to see how far their cats will chase it.

In most cases, they will chase it from the floor, up the wall, and as far as they can. The common question is ‘Why are cats so interested in laser pointers?’

A laser pointer isn’t the ideal toy for your cat. Cats are natural hunters. When chasing something, they are highly determined to catch it.

The fact that they can’t catch the pointer can be highly frustrating. Pointing the laser directly into their eyes can be harmful.

The only reason why cats may be chasing your laser pointer is that it is moving.

If anything appears to be moving away from your cat, it seems like prey. They naturally have the urge to chase their prey.

If your cat likes chasing, find it a tangible toy. Even though chasing is fun, your cat should be able to catch it.

If your cat spends too much time chasing laser pointers, it can get frustrating. In time, it may direct the pent up frustration elsewhere.

Laser lights are relatively safe. Don’t worry if you accidentally direct them to your cat’s eyes.

However, you shouldn’t let a cat look directly at a laser for a long time.

The way that cats perceive a laser pointer is different from how humans perceive it. Their eyes are a lot different than ours.

They don’t see the colour red as we do because their eyes are not sensitive to it. They may see it as a dull shade of yellow or white. Cat eyes connect to their brains differently than humans.

They are, therefore, more sensitive to movement.

In conclusion, cats do not have an infrared vision. Only cold-blooded animals can see infrared. They include; vampire bats, frogs, and snakes. However, their skins have sensitive heat receptors that they use to detect warm patches.

Different species have different types of vision. Over the years, human beings have evolved to see in as much clarity and detail as possible.

However, cats do not enjoy the same level of visual detail, resolution, and clarity. Even though they can see well in the dark, they are near-sighted and their ability to see colour is limited.

Article by Barbara Read
Barbara read
Barbara Read is the heart and soul behind From her early love for cats to her current trio of feline companions, Barbara's experiences shape her site's tales and tips. While not a vet, her work with shelters offers a unique perspective on cat care and adoption.