1 Sight 2 Hearing 3 Smell 4 Touch 5 Taste 6 References
The tapetum lucidum reflecting green in the pupils of a cat
Cats, like dogs and many other animals, have a tapetum lucidum, which is a reflective layer behind the retina that sends light that passes through the retina back into the eye. While this improves the ability to see in darkness, it appears to reduce net visual acuity, thus detracting when light is abundant. In very bright light, the slit-like pupil closes very narrowly over the eye, reducing the amount of light on the sensitive retina, and improving depth of field. Big cats have pupils that contract to a round point. The tapetum and other mechanisms give the cat a minimum light detection threshold up to seven times lower than that of humans. Variation in color of cats' eyes in flash photographs is largely due to the reflection of the flash by the tapetum.
A closeup of a cat's eye
Cats have a visual field of view of 200° compared with 180° in
humans, but a binocular field (overlap in the images from each eye)
narrower than that of humans. As with most predators, their eyes face
forward, affording depth perception at the expense of field of view.
Field of view
A white kitten with heterochromatic eyes.
Humans and cats have a similar range of hearing on the low end of the
scale, but cats can hear much higher-pitched sounds, up to 64 kHz,
which is 1.6 octaves above the range of a human, and even 1 octave
above the range of a dog. When listening for something, a cat's
ears will swivel in that direction; a cat's ear flaps (pinnae) can
independently point backwards as well as forwards and sideways to
pinpoint the source of the sound. Cats can judge within three inches
(76 mm) the location of a sound being made one yard (91 cm)
away—this can be useful for locating their prey.
Although it was long generally thought that cats were unresponsive to
music, recent studies have shown that they do in fact respond to music
which has been created with species-specific frequencies. Results
suggested that cats do benefit from music therapy when the sounds have
been composed to target their auditory senses. Other findings include
age-related sensitivity (older and younger cats were more responsive
than middle aged cats).
It is a common misconception that all white cats with blue eyes are
deaf. This is not true, as there are many blue-eyed cats with
perfect hearing. However, white cats with blue eyes do have slightly
higher incidences of genetic deafness than white cats of other eye
colors. White cats having one blue and one other-colored eye are
called "odd-eyed" and may be deaf on the same side as the blue
eye. This is the result of the yellow iris pigmentation rising to
the surface of only one eye, as blue eyes are normal at birth before
the adult pigmentation has had a chance to express itself in the
A domestic cat's sense of smell is about fourteen times as strong as
humans'.[dubious – discuss] Cats have twice as many
receptors in the olfactory epithelium (i.e. smell-sensitive cells
in their noses) as people do, meaning that cats have a more acute
sense of smell than humans. Cats also have a scent organ in the roof
of their mouths called the vomeronasal (or Jacobson's) organ. When a
cat wrinkles its muzzle, lowers its chin, and lets its tongue hang a
bit, it is opening the passage to the vomeronasal. This is called
gaping, "sneering", "snake mouth", or "flehming". Gaping is the
equivalent of the
Whiskers on the face of a tuxedo kitten.
A cat has about twenty-four movable vibrissae ("whiskers"), in four
sets on each upper lip on either side of its nose (some cats may have
more). There are also a few on each cheek, tufts over the eyes,
bristles on the chin, the cat's inner "wrists", and at the back of the
legs. The Sphynx (a nearly hairless breed) may have full length,
short, or no whiskers at all.
The structure of the brain region (barrel cortex) which receives
information from the vibrissae is similar to that found in the visual
cortex which permits the cat to create a three-dimensional map of its
surroundings. This doesn't mean that sensing with vibrissae is a type
of vision. It is still a touch sensation and environmental information
is built up incrementally (in small steps).
Whiskers also aid in hunting
The cat family was shown in 2005 to lack the
^ Braekevelt CR (1990). "Fine structure of the feline tapetum
lucidum". Anat Histol Embryol. 19 (2): 97–105.
doi:10.1111/j.1439-0264.1990.tb00892.x. PMID 2240589.
^ Hughes A (1975). "A quantitative analysis of the cat retinal
ganglion cell topography". J. Comp. Neurol. 163 (1): 107–28.
doi:10.1002/cne.901630107. PMID 1159109.
^ Guenther, Elke; Zrenner, Eberhart (April 1993). "The Spectral
Sensitivity of Dark- and Light-adapted
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