Have you ever stopped to think about how your feline companion experiences the world? How their senses differ from ours? Here is a quick summary of how impressive your cat is:
- Our feline friends have similar sight to us, but with slight differences that have adapted to fit their needs. Overall, cats have a visual field of 200 degrees compared to our 180 degrees. While they best us in peripheral vision, we have better long-range vision. We can see objects clearly from 100 feet, but cats can only be 20 feet away for a crisp picture. Where cats really outdo us is with their night vision. It is estimated that cats have night vision that is 6 – 8 times better than ours. The portion of a cat’s eyes that assists with their night vision is also what gives them glowing eyes in pictures. In 2013, the artist Nickolay Lamm collaborated with veterinary specialists to put together images of how we believe our cat’s see the world.
- Cats ears act like satellites with the ability to swivel 180 degrees thanks to the muscles in their outer ears. Humans only have 6 muscles in their outer ears compared to a cat’s 32 muscles! Cats are able to hear very high frequencies. A frequency is the rate of vibration in a sound wave that is measured in hertz. Cats are able to pick up frequencies as high as 100,000 hertz compared to a person’s ability to hear 20,000 hertz.
- The most important sensory receptor for a cat is their nose. A cat is believed to have around 200 million scent receptors in their nose. These millions of receptors act as an indicator that helps sense the world around them, such as food, friends, prey, and even navigating their way around the neighborhood. Your cat’s nose helps make up for its lack of taste receptors. They smell their food rather than taste it. Be cautious with strong odors. Since your cat’s sense of smell is so sensitive, strong scents can be uncomfortable.
- As mentioned above, your furry feline’s sense of taste isn’t the strongest of their senses. In fact, their sense of taste is significantly less than humans. We have around 9,000 taste buds while your cat has only 473; however, their sense of smell makes up for their lack of taste. Cats have the same 4 basic responses to taste: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. However, their sweet senses are almost non-existence. Due to their lack of taste, cat’s prefer their food be around the same temperature as their tongue, a warm 86 degrees.
- Cats have receptors for touch all over their bodies, but the most important places are the whiskers, tongue, and their paw pads. Whiskers grow out of a deeper layer of skin than normal hair, which makes them very sensitive. Your cat depends on their whiskers to navigate their environment and avoid obstacles. Despite your cat’s sensitivity to touch, they do not sense the extremes of hot and cold. The only parts of their body that are sensitive to hot and cold is their nose and lips.
Cats are an incredible species, and it’s very interesting to try and learn how they experience their environment. In each section is a link to more information about your cat’s 5 senses if you would like to learn more.