Cats have been revered and worshiped throughout history. They have been considered gods, associated with goddesses like Bast and Isis, and attributed to be the masters of all animals.
Their stealthy hunting technique has been admired for thousands of years, and stories like Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats have long referenced their abilities.
One thing that has not been talked about is if cats can see colors. While most people would assume that cats can see colors just as we can, research suggests this is not the case.
Most cats are dichromatic, or two color vision impaired. This means they can only see two colors: green and yellow. They are unable to distinguish shades of orange or purple, for example.
This article will discuss if cats are color blind like dogs, how this affects them, and if there is a way to test for color vision impairment in a feline friend.
Are cats color blind?
No, cats are not color blind. While it is true that cats only see in black and white, they can also see in shades of gray.
Most cats can distinguish between light and dark colors, such as white and black. Their problem comes in with the reds, oranges, and browns.
This is because their retinas have only two types of photoreceptors: rod cells which detect light and blueish-green cones which detect color.
Cats have fewer cones than dogs so they cannot distinguish between colors as well. This does not affect their ability to hunt or find prey however.
They can still determine if something is a mouse or rat or bird based on size and shape rather than the color of its fur.
What causes color blindness?
Color blindness is a term used to describe a spectrum of vision limitations. These limitations can affect one or more color channels, making it more difficult to distinguish between some colors.
There are three color channels in the eye: red, green, and blue. Depending on the type of color blindness, someone can be deficient in one or more of these channels, making it difficult to distinguish certain colors.
Some types of color blindness are inherited, while others are due to disease or injury to the eye and optic nerve. Unfortunately, there is no cure for color blindness; however, many types of glasses and apps can help those with this condition distinguish certain colors.
Color blindness is more common in men than women. This is due to genetic variations that affect the X chromosome. If a man has an X chromosome that carries less genetic variation, then he is less likely to be colorblind.
Are only cats color blind?
No, only cats are thought to be color blind. Most cats are able to see green and red the best, with some being able to see orange and pink as well.
Because of this, many cat colors are named after the colors that felines can see. For example, a chocolate colored cat is called that because of the dark brown color that cats can easily see.
The term tuxedo refers to a black and white cat, as that is what they look like in dim light when only the shadows can be seen. Black looks like any other color in the dark, so he’s not special!
However, it has recently been discovered that some Turkish Van Cats are actually trichromatic- meaning they can see three primary colors: red, green and blue. This has not yet been proven in any other species of feline though.
What are the symptoms of color blindness?
Color blindness, also known as color deficiency, is the term used to describe a population of people that have difficulty distinguishing certain colors from others.
People with this condition typically struggle to distinguish red from green or yellow. Some people with color blindness may not be able to distinguish any colors.
This is due to the fact that there are genes that encode for the photopigment receptors in the eye.
There are two types of these receptors: rod and cone cells. Rod cells function in low light conditions while cone cells function in well-lit environments.
Photopigments are molecules in the retina that respond to certain wavelengths of light. They determine the color we see something as.
If someone has a defect in one or more of their photopigment genes, or they do not have any at all, this can cause color blindness.
How is it treated?
Although taurodontism is not a common condition, there are treatments available if you or someone you know is affected by it. Because the treatment depends on the individual, it is advised to speak to a medical professional for advice.
Medical professionals can test the amount of amniotic fluid in the womb using ultrasound. If there is no amniotic fluid, or the fetus has other issues due to taurodontism, then an abortion may be recommended.
Abortion is also advised if the fetus has other serious health issues due to the lack of amniotic fluid. This is because it may be harder to treat these issues due to lack of internal womb structure.
If the pregnancy continues and there are no other health issues with the fetus, then childbirth may be recommended. Medical professionals will ensure that the baby is in a position that allows for adequate breathing at birth.
Are there any ways to prevent it?
While there is no known way to prevent color blindness, you can help reduce the risk. People with color blindness are encouraged to pursue their career and life goals just like anyone else.
Many find success in careers that do not require much use of color such as interior design, art, and architecture. Some even become teachers for young children as they use colors heavily in their curriculum.
Children with color blindness are also encouraged to play with toys that do not have distinguishing colors. Toys such as stuffed animals, puzzles, or games like Candyland or Monopoly do not rely on colors to identify what they are.
They can also play with different shades of one color to help them identify what it is. For instance, giving them all white eggs in place of brown or blue ones helps them recognize what it is.
What about dogs?
While many people believe that dogs are color blind, this is not entirely true. While they may not be able to distinguish red from green, they can tell differences in shades.
Dogs use color in much the same way we do. They use color to recognize objects, detect changes in color patterns as warnings, and identify colors of items as rewards.
For example, a dog will fetch a ball only if it is the correct color- red or yellow. They also use colors to identify what type of object they are sniffing or hunting.
They may also be able to distinguish subtle shades of blue and green, which may help them detect something that is hiding. Some dogs have even been reported to recognize black and white pictures!
Like with humans, not all dogs are born with the ability to distinguish colors, however. This may make life a little harder for them, but it does not seem to affect their overall quality of life.
Are there any other animals that are known to be color blind?
Other animals that are typically thought to be color blind are reptiles and amphibians, including frogs. While many people believe that cats are color blind, unlike dogs, reptiles and amphibians use different wavelengths of light to detect objects and patterns.
Reptiles use ultraviolet (UV) light to detect patterns on their surroundings and objects. Many insects and markings appear differently under UV light, which is why many reptiles use it.
Amphibians use a combination of wavelengths, including ultraviolet, to detect patterns and objects. Like with reptiles, this helps them detect the same things in different environments or at different times of the day.
Unfortunately for the truth, both of these species have been proven to see colors as well! Amphibians actually have very vibrant colors that they can see due to the thickness of their retinas. Reptiles have fewer types of cones which make them sensitive to certain colors, but not all of them.