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The World From Your Pet's Eyes

There are many differences between how humans and animals see the world, which can be explained by the variation of the photoreceptor cells.

There are two types of photoreceptor cells, which are rods and cones. Rods are responsible for peripheral and night vision. Peripheral vision is what you can see to each side without moving your head, or everything that you can see that isn't right in front of you. Along with peripheral vision, rods detect brightness and shades of gray.

Cones are responsible for our vision in the daytime, and the way we see colors. And even though some animals have weaker cones compared to humans, their rods are usually stronger, making them see much better in low light than us.


Dogs have a very different color perception compared to humans, but contrary to popular opinion, they aren’t fully color-blind. While humans have three types of color receptors (cones) sensitive to the colors red, green, and blue;  dogs have only two, making their vision limited to shades of blue and yellow. Being dichromatic, they see the world in a spectrum of yellows and blues. However, their rods are stronger, making their night vision 5 times better than humans.


A cat's vision is very similar to a human who is color blind, meaning they have weak cones. They aren’t able to make out details, and their vision gets blurry after 25-30 meters, while humans can easily identify objects at those distances. Their rods, however, are very strong and they’re able to see in dim light. Their rods also provide a broader vision to them, which is 200 degrees (Humans have a 180-degree peripheral vision). The rod cells also refresh more quickly, which lets cats follow very rapid movements. That’s one of the reasons why they have such strong reflexes.


Many people think that their birds have poor eyesight but in fact, their eyesight is even better than us. Birds are able to see a broader color range in comparison to humans who are trichromatics. We detect light with three types of photoreceptors. These receptors are for red, green, and blue light (long, medium, and short wavelengths). Birds are tetrachromatic, which means they detect light with four photoreceptors, allowing them to see some UV wavelengths that we can’t see.

Shortly, animals have a different perception of the world than we do and the diverse ways they see the world are fascinating.

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