Can cats see in the dark?

a cat in the dark

Cats might have been domesticated nearly 12,000 years ago, but there’s still a lot we don’t really know about our feline friends and how well they see is still one of those mysteries. Since they’re most active at dawn and dusk (and the darker hours in between), people often wonder if their cats can see in the dark.

We’re here to help bust some myths and answer your questions about your feline friend’s amazing sight.

How do cats see in the dark?

Well, they don’t. Not really. They’re able to see more than we can, though, and it’s all thanks to the differences in their eyes. A cat’s corneas and pupils, which are much larger than ours, allow in much more light, helping them see in the dark. 

So, whilst cats won’t be able to see in complete darkness if all light is blocked out, their sight is still much more advanced than that of their owners.

Are cats nocturnal?  

As the entire house starts to wind down ready for the looming bedtime, your cat is probably waking up from their slumber. While nocturnal animals are active at night, cats have the same almond-shaped pupils, but our feline friends are actually crepuscular which means they are most active at dawn and dusk.

Are cats scared of the dark?

Every cat is different, with some fearing nothing at all while others might hate loud noises, but how do cats get on in the dark? It all depends on whatever they might have experienced out and about in the night as this could impact their confidence while exploring in the evening darkness. Crepuscular animals like cats tend to head out during the twilight hours as the fading light means they can still see, but it is dark enough to reduce the chances of them being seen by potential predators and their prey.

If your cat shows signs of anxiety, including dilated pupils, sweaty paws, crying and an increased heartbeat when it comes to the darker times of day, you might want to keep a light on for them.

Other interesting facts about a cat’s eyesight

Here are some fun facts all about your feline’s eyes to finish:

  • They can’t distinguish between reds and greens
  • They can detect objects moving at four millimetres per second
  • Cats have better peripheral vision than we do
  • Cats have three eyelids

So, while our cat's eyes are not hugely different from our own, how they use them alongside their other sensational senses means they stay safe as they explore the dusky hours of the day.

Looking for more cat advice?

We’ve written some handy cat advice guides, to help you unlock the secrets of your mysterious moggy.


Need cat insurance?

Cat insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your cat gets injured or falls ill.


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