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What Cats and Dogs Can See that Humans Can’t: You Won’t Believe it!

By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell    February 25, 2014 at 03:10PM / (32) comments

Have you ever felt that your cat or dog can see something you don’t? Well, you may be right, according to a new study.


Cats, dogs, and other mammals are thought to see in ultraviolet light, which opens up a whole different world than the one we see, the study explains.


Seeing the World in Ultraviolet (UV) Light


UV light is the wave length beyond the visible light from red to violet that humans can see. Humans have a lens that blocks UV from reaching the retina. It was previously thought that most mammals have lenses similar to humans.


Scientists studied the lenses of dead mammals, including cats, dogs, monkeys, pandas, hedgehogs, and ferrets. By researching how much light passes through the lens to reach the retina, they concluded that some mammals previously thought not to be able to see UV actually can.


"Nobody ever thought these animals could see in ultraviolet, but in fact, they do," Ron Douglas, the study leader and a biologist at City University London, England, told LiveScience.


What purpose does being able to see UV light serve for animals such as reindeer, rodents, and other mammals? It allows reindeer to see polar bears, for example, which would be invisible in regular light because they blend in with the snow.


UV light also allows mammals to see urine trails. This would be helpful for prey animals, such as cats and dogs, to find food in the wild.



Originally appeared on Pet360.com


Image: INTVGene / Flickr



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Comments  32

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  • hmmmm...
    02/25/2014 06:51pm

    I've always wondered if my cats could see things I couldn't :)

  • 11/14/2014 06:50pm

    But it still doesn't explain what my cats "suddenly" see what's behind me!

  • 12/06/2014 05:19pm

    I've been learning about "ghost hunting" because I live in a haunted house, and from what I understand, some of the newer equipment they're now using scans the ultraviolet spectrum because they've found it can capture evidence they were previously unaware of. So this may very well explain what your pet is seeing when it stares behind you! Or maybe your pet is just hearing a bug lol.

  • 03/15/2015 12:34pm

    balaams donkey in the bible seen the angel, and Balaam never. The donkey tried to avoid walking on, because the angel was standing in the middle of the road. The donkey kept pulling away, and Balaam kept beating it. then the angel made himself known to Balaam, and wanted kill him for beating the donkey. but I wonder if that is why the donkey seen him, and the human never.

  • 07/26/2015 10:28am

    I've always loved the story of Balaam's donkey! Your clever theory makes perfect sense in light of this new discovery. I bet you are right!

  • 05/10/2015 01:17pm

    I bet your house is really scary! Have you ever seen a ghost in your house before?

  • 08/05/2015 05:30am

    I live in a house at the dead end of a 3 way crossroad. There is high entity traffic & my parrot can see entities. I can see them out of the corners of my eyes in the daylight. In the dark it is very easy to see an entity.

    There is only one entity that my parrot likes. When she pets her my bird just groans happily.

  • 08/18/2015 08:29pm

    There are ghost kitties in our apartment! I know at times our three cats see them. I on the other hand can only feel them brush by in an instant.

  • 08/17/2015 05:53pm

    what I learned on a show about cats on H2 is that they have the most keen sense of hearing of mammals incl. that of dogs which lead in the sense of smell so, your cats are probably hearing faint noises that you are not aware of, I know my cat used to hunker down in front of the kitchen, haunches twitching & ears straight up likely hearing the mice in the walls & she would only come into the kitchen when I opened the pantry door that her food was behind, there were two doors on the pantry but, she only reacted to that one

  • Photo illustration
    04/26/2014 05:13pm

    How interesting that you used the photo of a blind cat for your illustration.

  • 05/05/2014 10:13am

    I don't think that is blind cat.. .I think the picture colors were edited :)

  • 10/03/2014 01:04pm

    Psssst - go to Photoshop, click on Image, then Adjustments, then Invert - it is a photo of a black cat with green eyes and gray-black whiskers.

  • 02/18/2015 02:00pm

    It's not blind

  • Blindness in Cats
    05/06/2014 01:54pm

    The colors may have been adjusted (the entire photo is sloppy), but the pupils are are totally expanded, which occurs in taurine deficiency and several genetic and medical disorders. This cat is blind.

  • 05/07/2014 01:50pm

    Cats eyes also dilate when a flash goes off when their photo is taken. Dilated eyes do not always mean a cat is blind.

  • 05/09/2014 09:07am

    Wouldn't a flash cause the pupil to constrict instead of dilate?

  • 05/09/2014 10:46am

    That's a picture of a black cat with green eyes. The colors have been inverted.

    Here's what happens if you switch it back.


  • 07/02/2014 12:19pm

    You're quick to jump to conclusions, so will I, you're a moron. I don't recall ever seeing a cat with a white nose and white tear ducts, but who knows what world you're living in.

    The picture colors have been inverted.

    The cat is black: http://snag.gy/nIPyx.jpg

  • 08/11/2015 04:20am

    You know nothing of photos. Did you read the article? The cat in the photo is in negative form. Pass your mouse over it, see how it says UV cat? Now, if you have Photoshop upload it, click invert image and you will see a very clear image of a black cat with yellow eyes and very small slits for pupils. Quit making assumptions.

  • UV cat
    07/14/2014 07:42pm

    The picture is of a cat as seen in ultraviolet light. :)

  • Interesting!!!
    09/17/2014 12:04pm

    Yes,it does seem that the picture was altered,but the article was very useful.Does anyone agree or are you just gonna argue over a cat picture?

  • You mean my dog can actua
    09/28/2014 01:35pm

    You mean my dog can actually see urine on the ground? How about ghosts? Can my dog see ghosts?

  • 12/06/2014 06:47pm

    Do, but he can see dog urine :)

  • Silly people!
    11/16/2014 06:35am

    You people are silly. The image wasn't edited, the entire picture was simply inverted.

    It's a black cat, with yellow eyes.


  • 08/05/2015 12:53am

    Really? I see a gold cat with blue eyes.

  • they do indeed
    04/01/2015 09:14pm

    Almost all of my dogs have demonstrated an awareness of something I cannot see, to the point of distraction. They watch open doors, reacting often to ???. They go down hallways with trepidation, looking, anticipating to see something they'd rather not see. However, one of my dogs was particularly "insightful". My "hyper-obedient, do whatever was commanded, needed to be by my side" dog was my constant companion. One day, when walking on trails in remote woods, we walked everyday, she stopped cold. Could not be dragged, coerced, ordered, enticed to go one more step. I took heed. We went the other way. She resumed her typical frenetic adventure. One evening, going to our cozy room where we'd spent hours of days, she refused to even enter the room. Paws planted could not be dragged. Wouldn't look up, nearly cowered, had to be carried dead weight into the room. This remained a near disturbing mystery until I learned that the construction we were doing on that room, in our 100 yr old home, could well be a trigger for paranormal activity. I'd say, the trigger was pulled.

  • 07/31/2015 05:26pm

    My German Shepherd puppy, who was about 6 months old at the time, was walking around the reservoir and we came to an area where she started going off the path that we walk on and started growling and walked all the way to the other side of the road, the entire time growling and keeping an eye on one central location and once we passed it, she was still continuing to look back and growl but I still did not see anything. Whatever it was, was not friendly and she kept distance between us and it. The next time we went around the reservoir, she approached that same area with caution but with a different reaction because whatever had been there before was not there any more and she went to investigate where it had been. It really makes me wonder what it was....whether it was an animal that had passed or human....but there was definitely something there.

  • Always thought infrared..
    05/08/2015 02:49pm

    It seems that our cats would always go directly to the warmest spots...so we just assumed they could see in infrared!!!

  • 05/17/2015 08:49am

    I always believed that cats, dogs as well as other creatures can see a broader range of the electromagnetic spectrum than we humans can. How far in either direction we may never really know.

  • In the wild
    06/01/2015 02:21pm

    I know dogs and cats see more than we humans do. I also know some animals in the wild also see a differant spectrum range. I am a hunter and know deer and elk are color blind as discovered by scientists. But in their vision I think they can depict colors better in black and white and greys to a better degree than we can. All in a spicies are not equal as in humans so don't expect your pet to be able to what others do, they all have their limits. I have seen wild animals detect camo clothing out of folage, but movement is animals primary visual indicator as in seeing whats behind you. I studied optics in the service and there is a prisim of beauty that we are limited from. Go ahead and debate the photo, its entertaining how easily people loose their "focus." Those with eyes see and those with ears hear, looking is not seeing.

  • The pic of the Cat
    08/25/2015 10:26am

    For all those who think that the cat in this article header is blind....that is not the case...the pic has been taken with an ultraviolet filter.
    Common sense is not that common.

  • This expains it
    09/02/2015 02:24am

    My dog Maya, a Labrador mixed with something else I think some kind of terrier, acts very strange whenever I try to take her picture with my phone. She slinks off and hides. When we first brought her home from Anti Cruelty a little over a year ago she would let me take pictures but she always acted like I was pointing something at her that she didn't like. She would always look away or turn around completely. I often wondered if she could see the beams that the camera uses to auto focus. Now if I just pick up the phone for whatever reason Maya will get up and leave the room lol. I was never mean to her or tried to force her to stay and get her pic taken so I am sure it isn't because she is afraid of it for anything that I have done.