This is part 1 of the text of the talk given at our 2017 client night. Watch out for future installments.
Cats’ senses are very different to ours because they evolved as hunters and retained these characteristics even after they came to live with us.
Cats are descended from the African wild cat, which are ambush hunters of rodents, frogs, reptiles, and birds, but potential prey for larger animals. Our cats’ senses are unaltered from those of the wild cat. All that has changed in their brains is the ability to form social attachments to people
Cats eyes are suited to hunting at night. The large cornea allows light to enter the eye and the reflective layer under the retina maximises light sensitivity.
This high light sensitivity would be painful in broad daylight so their pupils contract to a slit and their eyelids close to protect the retina in the day.
They have no need for colour vision at night and so see yellow and blue but not red and green. Size, pattern and shape of prey are more important to them.
The most critical aspect of vision in cats is that it is best from 2-6 metres away. This makes it difficult for them to take treats from our hands. However like us they have binocular vision, which enables them to judge the distance to prey, and to climb and jump accurately.
Their eyes are acutely sensitive to minute movements – like the twitch of a mouse’s whisker.