Are Pets Colorblind?
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Are Pets Colorblind?

Are cats colorblind? Are dogs colorblind? What do things look like to other animals? Which animal has the best vision. Which animal can see the most colors? What colors can cats see? What colors can dogs see? Can birds see color? Are horses color blind? Learn how we know which animals are colorblind and which can see color.

Have you ever wondered what the world looks like to your cat, or dog? At one time people thought most animals, including cats and dogs, were colorblind, but we now know they are not.  While some animals cannot see color, others can see more colors than we can!

Eyes are made up of Rods and Cones, it is the Cones that are important for seeing color, and some animals have different types of cones in their eyes than humans do. Humans have 3 Cone types, Short, Medium, and Long, allowing those of us who are not colorblind to see what we consider a full range of colors – the rainbow. Colorblind people see certain colors as grays, or tones of the other colors they contain (example green includes yellow, so green things might look like a shade of yellow) the same thing applies to the animals who cannot see certain colors. So just what do animals see?

photo source

Pigeons

While humans are capable of seeing 10 million different colors (you may note there are many colors of “blue” for example”, pigeons are believed to be able to see 10 billion different colors. They have 2 different cone types that humans do not have. This means pigeons are more sensitive to different hues within a color than other animals.

Other Birds

Other pet birds can see a full range of color, you can teach a pet parrot to recognize colors, and will note that some male birds use a display of colors in their courtship rituals.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Your pet snake, or frog, can probably see better than you. They have 4 cone types. It has been noted that these cones probably are important for improved twilight vision. Some of these animals are nocturnal and the extra cones would allow them to see color in the dim light of the evening or night. You will note humans have limited color vision in the dark, as everything falls into shades of gray.

Cats

Your cat cannot see as many colors as you. Cats are not totally color blind, they can see blues and greens, and some yellows, however cats cannot see reds and oranges. Cats have better night vision than humans and may be able to see some colors in dim light.

Dogs

Dogs have pretty much the same color range as cats, perhaps slightly better. Dogs can see blues and greens, and some yellows, but are colorblind in terms of red and orange. This may be of interest to dog owners who are buying toys for their dog, it is better to buy blue, green, and yellow, toys, rather than red or orange toys.  You will note that while dogs may not be able to see as many colors than us they can smell far better than even the best human.

Horses, Cattle, Sheep, etc.

Farm animals are also limited in the range of colors they can see. They have similar color blindness to red and orange, but can see blue, green, and most yellows. Most of these animals have a blind spot in front of them, so would see a thin black area directly ahead of them, but have good peripheral vision, with the exception of the lack of seeing red and orange.

color blind

photo source - An example of what Red Green colorblindness looks like - this is not quite the same as what a cat or dog might see (they would see more greens) but is fairly close.  You may think some of these items look green - but they are really shades of yellow.  You will note how blue still looks blue.

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Comments (9)

Very interesting information!

Hummm . . . science would disagree about cats and dogs.

James, though science we know that cats and dogs see blue and greens upon examination of the cones in the eye itself. People use to think they were colorblind but we now know this is not true. As far as Yellow goes, there tends to be a mixed opinion, with most agreeing that they can see some ranges of yellow. Dogs do tend to have slightly better color vision than cats, but neither can see reds or oranges as they lack the cones for seeing those types of color.

You have answered my questions very well. Thank you for sharing your wisdom in this well composed article. Promoted until I can return with a vote.

Very neat and interesting -- I have often wondered how my dogs and other animals see the world!

Returning with a well deserved vote up.

Impressive insights on pet's eye sight, I never thought of this one Brenda, thanks, the pics shows good analysis.

I once thought animals are color blind. Great to know the facts you presented.

Bookmarked. I enjoyed reading this. Very informative and fun.

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