Seeing in the dark
Whether you’re a carnivore skulking through the undergrowth in the dead of night or a prey animal trying to survive until sunrise, in the unforgiving wild, night vision is a matter of life or death
Discover the species with nocturnal powers
Cats can see with one-sixth of the light humans need There are two types of light-sensitive cells in the eyes. Cones are responsible for colour vision and require a lot of illumination to work, while rods can’t pick out colour but function in extremely dim conditions. Human eyes contain around 120 million rods, but cats have up to eight times as many. This creates super-charged night vision abilities that allow cats to sense their surroundings with a fraction of the light required by the human eye.
Rods are also responsible for peripheral vision due to their positioning around the outer edge of the retina. Additionally, low-light rod cells are the eye’s most sensitive motion sensors and notice miniscule movements in the dark. Cats use their expanded field of vision and finely tuned motion detection to snare prey that a human wouldn’t even notice.
The crystals are rectangular in shape and are arranged neatly like bricks in a wall. When light hits these miniature mirrors it bounces around and has another chance to be absorbed by the eye. The tapetum lucidum is 35 layers deep in the very centre of the eye for maximum reflection. Miniscule slivers of light are amplified in order to create a picture of the environment. Shiny crystalline cells coat the rear of a cat’s eye. This is the tapetum lucidum, resembling an iridescent pearl. Fewer crystals are embedded around the edge of the retina than the middle as less light is likely to hit the periphery.