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Can cats see in the dark?

Yes, here’s the scoop on cat eyes.

It’s the middle of the night, and you’re jolted awake from the sound of pouncing in the living room — sound familiar? 

You don’t always have to jump out of bed to check on your cats. They can actually see better in the dark than humans, which means they’re most likely safe during their midnight romp, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, explains. 

“Cats have large corneas and pupils, which can allow more light to pass through them to reach the retina,” she adds.

What happens if cats are left in a dark house?

If you’re leaving your cat at nighttime, don’t feel as though you have to leave a light on for them, as they have great night vision, Dr. McCullough says. 

Unless it bothers you, feel free to let your cat roam around at night, too. "Nighttime can be an active time for cats, so pet parents may notice that they play or vocalize during these hours," she adds. 

However, if your cat is getting into mischief while you’re asleep and can’t monitor them, Dr. McCullough recommends blocking off certain areas of your house using baby-proofing equipment. 

RELATED: How to tell if your cat has conjunctivitis

What should pet parents do if it seems like their cat can’t see in the dark?

Check in with your veterinarian if it seems like your cat can’t navigate around the house in the dark or light hours, Dr. McCullough suggests. But, unfortunately, it's hard to tell when cats are losing their vision, as they can compensate for that sensory loss, she adds. 

“Vision loss is often noticed when a blind animal is placed in an unfamiliar environment and is unable to navigate it easily,” she adds. “Cats may have dilated pupils. Some causes of blindness will cause neurologic symptoms like circling and confusion. Blind animals may also have signs of eye discomfort as evidenced by squinting, eye discharge or rubbing their eyes.”

Veterinarians often diagnose vision loss through physical and eye examinations. Treatment options depend on the cause of a cat’s vision loss, Dr. McCullough says. 

Are cats color-blind?

Another interesting tidbit about cat’s vision is that they likely won’t be able to tell the difference between their black or colorful toys. “Cats are considered color-blind, and they are thought to not be able to see red and green,” Dr. McCullough explains.  

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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