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Compared to our feline and canine buddies, our human eyes aren’t particularly adept at seeing in dim light or looking at things in our peripheral vision — but we’re better at telling colours apart. How many times have we wondered to ourselves, “What is my dog barking at in the dark? Are they seeing something that we can’t see?”, or noticed our pet ‘watching’ TV and thought, “Can they really see what’s on the screen?”

Read on to find out the answers to these burning questions:

Owners versus pets

A human’s eyes are one of the most complex structures in nature. It can tell the difference between eight million different colours, and on a clear, moonless night, most people can detect a match being struck 80 kilometres away. 

On the contrary, cats and dogs are surprisingly short-sighted when compared to us. While we have a visual acuity of 20/20, cats have a 20/100 to 20/200 vision, and dogs have a 20/75 vision. This means that an object that they see at 20 feet (about 6 metres) is as clear as what we see when we stand 75 – 200 feet (about 22 – 60 metres) away! So if we can’t see anything clearly beyond 6 metres, our pets have it way worse. 

Don’t take it to heart if your dog doesn’t seem to recognise you from afar. It probably just can’t see you that well! 

Source: Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Humans can also see things with a much greater range of vibrant colours, though it is a myth that dogs and cats can only see the world in black and white — they do see colours, just less than us. However, when it comes to peripheral vision and night vision, humans are at the bottom of the list. We can’t see as wide and we can’t see as well when it gets dark. 

As for the mystery of the television screen, cats and dogs need a higher frame rate than us in order to process shows as a smooth film. A phenomenon known as flicker fusion, we require 15-20 frames per second (fps) while dogs require 70 fps and cats require about 100 fps. So whether or not your cat or dog can enjoy television programmes as we do depends entirely on the colours and frames per second, which has increased in recent years thanks to technology! 

Why is this so?

Ever wondered why your cat’s eyes seem to glow in the dark? 

Source: Andreea Popa on Unsplash

The reason why our vision is so different from our furry friends boils down to what lies within the eye. In the eye are light receptors called cones and rods — cones help us with visual acuity and colour perception, while rods are responsible for motion detection and our peripheral and night vision. 

At a glance, cats and dogs have a high concentration of rod receptors and a low concentration of cone receptors, and vice versa for humans. This is why we can detect colours better and see clearer from a further distance, but can’t see as well in the dark or have a visual field as wide. 

Furthermore, while the human eye contains three types of cone cells that allow us to see red, green, and blue, cats and dogs only have two types and have a vision that’s similar to a human who is colour blind. As of yet, there is no definite evidence on what the two colours that cats and dogs can detect are, but some experts believe that while they can clearly see blue, they might have difficulty distinguishing between red, green, and yellow. 

Left: What humans see vs. Right: What cats and dogs see
Source: Cook1 and American Veterinarian

If we dive a little deeper into the exact visual capabilities of our canine and feline friends, they also have a layer of highly-reflective cells behind the retina that reflects back any light the eye captures. This enhances the light-gathering efficiency of your pet’s eyes by nearly 40%, allowing them to see even in low-light places, and accounts for their “glowing” eyes at night.

Meanwhile, cats versus dogs, who wins?

Cats and dogs are very similar in that they only have two cones, likely to detect green and blue, and have superior night vision, as most people would know. However, dogs are the champions when it comes to peripheral vision. They have the widest field of view, at 240 degrees, whereas cats can see up to 200 degrees when they look straight ahead and humans can only see up to 180 degrees. 

On the flip side, increased peripheral vision compromises the amount of binocular vision (where the field of view of each eye overlaps), which is necessary for depth perception. Cats have about 140 degrees of binocular vision, while most dogs only have about 30 – 60 degrees. 

Because of this, dogs are better than cats at catching subtle movements in their peripheral vision, but they are also significantly clumsier when running and jumping about than their notably graceful counterparts. 

Cats also see slightly more colour (in the blue-green and yellow end of the spectrum) than dogs, which is why they might be more captivated by television shows than dogs. It all seems so clear now, doesn’t it?

The ultimate soft mat tailored just for pets

Incorporating the way animals perceive colour into its ingenious design, Sapsal’s soft pet mat comes in hues of blue and yellow so that pets can easily distinguish and locate their favourite mat. 

Sapsal is embedded with extra cushioning to reduce the impact on your pet’s paws and joints while they frolic around, and is great as a rest or play mat to care for or prevent patella dislocation. This premium mat is also waterproof, anti-microbial, and easy to clean — simply wipe or gently rinse with water to remove stains or dirt instantly! Unlike rugs or fabrics, Sapsal naturally repels worms and ticks, so you do not have to worry about triggering your pet’s itchy skin either.

Made with eco-friendly materials and no formaldehyde or phthalates, Sapsal is the perfect addition to your pet-friendly home.

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