Are Cats Color Blind?


Two kittens playing with colorful yarn for are cats color blind story

You're thrilled to see your cat's colorful new toy has arrived in the mail. You quickly unwrap it and instantly they're chasing their new rainbow wand around the room.

But do the bright colors matter? Would you have gotten the same reaction from just a black or white piece of cloth?

Studies by scientists and cat experts on the question are cats color blind say the answer depends on perspective and definitions.

Are Cats Color Blind?

The answer to the question are cats colorblind is no, cats are not colorblind. They can see some colors but they don't see colors in the same way people do.

In this blog, we explain exactly what colors cats can see and why.

Some people think that color blindness means seeing only black and white. But that's not the case. Scientists know that most color blindness actually means an inability to distinguish between one color and another.

In that sense cats are color blind, but it doesn't mean they can't see any colors.

Are Cats Monochromatic Color Blind?

No, cats are not monochromatic color blind. Monochromatism is the type of colorblindness in which one can only see black and white.

An example of how monochromatic colorbliness sees the worldMonochromatic animals and people can see the world only in shades of gray that range from white to black. Individuals with monochromatic vision see light intensity rather than color.

It's a very rare condition believed to affect only one in approximately 30,000 people. Monochromatism is the result of nonfunctioning color sensitive cone cells.

Animals, such as the the Australian sea lion and the owl monkey, are naturally monochromatic. Cats are not.

The other two types of colorblindness that allow one to see some colors are much more common. These include tritanopia and deuteranomaly.

Do Cats Have Tritanopia Color Blindness? 

Example of how tritanopia colorbliness sees the worldTritanopia is more common than monochromatism, but it's still relatively rare. Tritanopia makes it difficult to distinguish between blue and green, purple and red, and yellow and pink. Colors also look less vibrant to those with tritanopia. Tritanopia is caused by having a complete lack of blue retinal receptors and having only green and red cone pigments

To people with Tritanopia, purples appear to be deep red, shades of blue appear to be greenish and oranges and yellows appear to be pink. This type of colorblindness can be acquired but also, in some cases, can be reversed.

Blue-yellow colorblindness also includes tritanomaly, which is hereditary and makes it difficult to discern between blue and green and yellow and red/pink hues.

Do Cats have Deuteranomaly Color Blindness?

The third and most common type of colorblindness is deuteranomaly, which makes it difficult to distinguish reds from greens.

Example of deuteranomaly or deuteranomaly or deutan colorblindness

Scientists believe about 6% of men have deuteranomaly. A deuteranopic person can distinguish colors along the color wheel, however reds pose more of a problem. This type of colorblindness often does not get in the way of normal activity.

So which type do cats have? It’s not that simple.

What Makes a Color Colorful, Anyway?

VCA Hospitals notes that the retina has two types of cells known as rods and cones. Cones help differentiate colors and make our world more colorful. Humans and cats have three types of cones that identify combinations of blue, red, and green.

However, cats only have a very small number of cones that respond to red. Humans also have ten times more cones than cats do. That’s why colors look a lot more vibrant to people than they do to cats.

Orange colored cat inside Furry Masterpieces Cardboard Cat House with Scratcher

It's for this reason that Cat Box Classics Cardboard Cat Houses are designed for cats, but styled in terms of color and design, for people. Our Furry Masterpieces Cat House with Scratcher, for example, lets your cat be part of iconic artworks, such as the Mona Lisa and Starry Night. Its cat scratcher and play holes are for the cat and the beautiful colors are for you.


What Colors Can Cats See?

Cute cat with colorful yarn for story on colorblindess in cats

The question of what colors cats can actually see continues to be the subject of research and debate. Scientists who study cats haven't settled on a definitive answer, according to Some say cats see shades of blue and green. Others believe cats see blue and gray. It's also believed by some that cats also see yellow, like dogs, and that cats might even be able to see ultraviolet light. 

One point most experts agree on is that cats don’t see the world in black and white. Cats do see some colors. According to Spruce Pets, cats' vision is similar to a person who is non-monochromatic color blind. That means that cats see shades of blue and green, but reds and pinks are difficult for them to discern.

In other words, while cats don’t see the same colors that humans do, they do live in a world that’s fairly colorful. Though all those colors are likely to be pastels or washed out because of the much smaller number of cones in cats' eyes. 

But don't feel sorry for cats. Humans might have more cones, but cats have more rods in their eyes. And that means cats see much better at night and in low light than we do.

So, What’s the Verdict? Do Cats See in Color?

In some ways, cats see colors similar to how humans experience the most common type of color blindness. Also, the colors cats do see aren't as vibrant as the ones that we perceive.

However, other differences and advantages in cat vision mean that's it doesn't tell the full story to describe cats' vision as merely similar to common human color blindness. Cats simply don’t see the world the same way we do. That doesn't mean their vision is worse than ours. In some cases it's better. 

Cats simply see the world differently. There are colors in a cat's world, possibly even colors we can't see.

Frequently Asked Questions?


How Do We Know Cats Are Color Blind?

We don't. Color blindness is a scale rather than an all or nothing way for seeing the world. Cats do see some colors and not others. Cats also see some colors in a way that is different than how humans and other animals see those same colors.

What Colors Do Cats See?

The colors cats see best include shades of green and blue. The colors pink and red can be hard for cats to distinguish and sometimes appear green to cats. Purple also tends to look blue to cats. Generally, colors are also less vibrant and clear to your cat than to humans.

What Colors Do Cats See Best?

The colors that cats see best and are most easily able to discern are blue hues. In particular, blue-violet hues are the easiest for cats. The second most easily discernable colors for cats are those in the yellow-green wavelength.

Do Cats Prefer Certain Colors?

It’s not possible to know what colors make a particular cat feel good. But if you want to choose an engaging toy, it’s best to choose a color they can see, including blue-violet and yellow-green wavelengths.

And don't forgt to sheck out our awesome and exclusively designed Cardboard Cat Houses with Replaceable Scratchers!