Cat eyes: fascinating and functional
Many people find a cat’s eyes impressive. Sometimes a bit scary, but that is often due to the association of the cat with evil (thanks to the Hollywood films). However, we usually find the viewers who can look at you as if they are looking straight through you very beautiful. How does that cat’s eye actually work, what are the varieties and how well does the cat actually see?
The cat’s eye is very ingenious and the cat sees many times more than humans. Still, a kitten starts life with closed eyes. A kitten’s eyes remain closed for the first seven to ten days after birth. Then it takes a few days before the eyes are properly open. At fourteen days, the eyes must be completely open and, as far as possible, operational.
All kittens are born with blue eyes. It takes four to five weeks for the correct color to appear. But it can take up to nine months before the truly final color is visible.
The retina is not fully developed in the initial period and the vision is actually not that good. A kitten slowly learns to interpret the images and the brain must learn to process all stimuli. It takes up to three months before the young cat can see as the adult cat does.
It has long been thought that cats could only see black and white, but it seems to be a bit more nuanced. Cats don’t distinguish all colors, but several studies show that there is more color to the cat than just black and white.
The best-known deviation is the blue-eyed white cat (not one blue and one orange / brown eye). These are often deaf and should be tested at a young age. It goes without saying that these cats should not be bred.
The eye, the inside and the outside
The cat’s eye can be of different colors. There is a kind of fixed standard that also has a color for a particular coat. The diversity in colors is great. The following colors are possible:
- Orange to copper colored
- Light brown to deep brown
- Yellow to yellow with a hint of green
- Bright green to deep green
- Bright blue to deep blue
The shape of the eyes is either round or almond shaped. The pupil works differently than in humans. The pupil is always rigidly pointed straight ahead and therefore does not move as it is in humans. This also applies to the blinking that humans do, because a cat does not. This is replaced by the third eyelid (also called cutting membrane). With this they distribute the tear fluid over the eye and it is a kind of protection against damage. Extremely short-nosed cats can suffer from a disturbed tear duct and therefore sometimes have dark streaks in the corners of the eyes.
When there is little light, the pupil is large and round. When the light gets brighter, the pupil doesn’t get small and round, but it becomes a slit.
The cat is never far or nearsighted. Occasionally, a cat is cross-eyed, but that cannot be fixed. The older cat can develop green or gray cataracts. Cataracts can be remedied by a veterinarian, provided you arrive in time.
An infected eye often occurs (for example, the cat may have had a twig on the eye) and this can often be remedied with an ointment or droplet (obtained from the vet). However, for many people it is a crime to bring it in. Clean the eye briefly with warm water and a gauze or clean cloth and let the cat look up. Then let the ointment or drop fall in immediately. Close the eye and gently massage the closed eye. This way the liquid is well distributed over the eye.
The cat can see an ant walking up to six meters in front of it. Beyond six meters, the cat can still see two-dimensional when looking straight ahead and up to 44 degrees to both sides. In the dark, the eyes act as a kind of acoustic vibration and the pupils pick up the vibration. Contrary to popular belief, a cat does need a little bit of light to be able to hunt, for example. An unclouded night with some moonlight is therefore more than fine.
If the cat becomes blind, it will initially avoid other cats. Vision is so important to the cat that it will feel very insecure. A blind cat can usually manage well after some time. Hearing and touch, as it were, partially take over the missing eyes.
The glow that appears when you shine a lamp in the dark into cat’s eyes is due to the mirror-like fabric that covers the back of the eye. The light from the lamp is thus reflected, as it were.
The cat’s eye is ingeniously put together and with these ingenious eyes the cat is able to find its favorite animal, the mouse, in the twilight and in the dark. Furthermore, many cat enthusiasts find the cat’s eye the most characteristic part of the cat. It is an essential part of the fascinating animal, the cat.